Angel Camp Vineyard
Sonoma County region
Award-winning Pinot Noirs honor the memory of loved ones
A small, family-owned winery nestled in the famed Anderson Valley of Northern California, Angel Camp Vineyard represents the indomitable spirit of its founders, Brian Zalaznick and his wife Cindy Storman. The inspiration behind this up-and-coming label is a touching story of how a heartbreaking loss can be channeled into a lasting homage.
On January 3, 2004, a plane carrying 148 passengers and 6 crew members crashed into the Red Sea. There were no survivors. Among these passengers were David’s older brother Edward, his wife Isabelle, and their three sons, David, Paul, and Thomas. After a sudden loss of this magnitude, David admits that his life started to lose meaning. He desperately needed to find something that offered a sense of hope, renewal and connection to his departed loved ones, and that ‘something’ became a special property in Philo.
At the time, Brian was living in Sonoma with his wife Cindy. Brian was working in Finance and Cindy was an accomplished yoga instructor. Brian had always been interested in wine, and just prior to the crash, had taken on a harvest internship job at a nearby winery. A friend of Brian’s noticed his struggles after the incident and suggested that Brian go see a piece of land that was on the market. It was in complete disarray - along with rusted out cars and trash, the property was consumed by a forest of overgrown pine trees which were remnants of an old Christmas tree operation. Although seemingly hopeless, Brian decided that resurrecting this property and planting a vineyard could help channel his sadness and loss into something truly special and meaningful.
The Angel Camp property was purchased in 2005 and planted to 12 acres of Pinot Noir in 2006. Brian hired Paul Ardzrooni, the Anderson Valley’s ‘go to’ vineyard manager, to care for his vines. Under Paul’s guidance, Angel Camp Vineyard has become one of the most prized properties in Anderson Valley, with demand five or six times greater than what they are able to sell. For the record, Angel Camp only uses twenty-five percent of their grape production, with the remaining fruit split between Donut Estate and Dutton-Goldfield (two of California’s most distinguished Pinot Noir producers).
While only a handful of vintages have been released to date, the winery has already been named ‘one to watch.’ Looking back on this path of transformation and renewal, Brian Zalaznick’s experience has been deeply healing and filled with many highs and lows, as one would expect. He and Cindy take great pride in their Angel Camp Vineyard and dedicate their award-winning wines to the memory of their loved ones.
Winemaker Phillip Baxter
Now in his fifteenth harvest, winemaker Phillip Baxter has devoted his career to Pinot Noir. After graduating with a degree in Viticulture and Enology from UC Davis, he travelled to Burgundy to work under Pascal Marchand at Domaine de la Vougeraie. It was during this time that Phillip fell in love with the pure nature of terroir-driven wines and the traditional techniques used to achieve this clarity. He started his own Baxter Winery ten years ago in the Anderson Valley and has since taken on consulting winemaker jobs for several wine brands.
Phillip’s wines consistently gain excellent reviews from the press, including being listed in Wine Enthusiast magazine’s article, “America’s Best Pinot Noirs.”