Russian River Valley AVA
Maximum quality production and world-class wines
While the ownership of the Russian River Valley’s DuMOL Winery has changed, certain aspects of the highly celebrated winery remain. Founder Kerry Murphy sold his interest in DuMOL five years ago and sadly, passed away just two weeks ago. Today, the winery is in the hands of long time DuMOL winemaker Andy Smith, who has stayed the course and become one of the co-owners of the winery.
Smith, a youngish 52, is a native of Scotland who first started with DuMOL Winery at the end of 1998 when the entity was only a few years old. He brought with him a graduate diploma in viticulture and enology from Lincoln University in New Zealand, along with years of experience with wineries like Dry River (New Zealand) and Yalumba (Barossa Valley, Australia), and in California with Littorai Wines and Paul Hobbs Winery.
Historically, DuMOL Winery started on the smallish side, releasing only 300 cases back in 1996. This figure has grown steadily over the past two decades-plus to around 15,000 cases, but Andy Smith feels there is still a little room for expansion in the future. “We have been planting vineyards since I joined the DuMOL family with the last plantings as recent as 2015. When that fruit becomes usable in the near future, I can see us producing around 18,000 cases. We still consider ourselves a boutique winery, but that level would most certainly be our optimum comfort level.”
During his time as winemaker, DuMOL Winery had continued to earn an incredible number of high scores and awards in competitions and wine industry periodicals. The Sonoma County operation has reached the highest plateaus obtainable for its numerous portfolio of wines.
No less than 28 different parcels of vineyards located across Sonoma County and Napa Valley make up the relatively small operation. A third of the vineyards DuMOL owns and farms, another third they managed but don’t own, and the final third they buy from growers that adhere to DuMOL Winery’s strict set of standards in developing fruit intensity. The combination has proven to be a winning one and DuMOL Winery has continued to produce extraordinary wines that include a high number of vineyard-designated wines.
“It is not our intention to be the biggest, but possibly the best,” commented Andy Smith. “The truth is, we do it for the love of the business. We believe in the craft aspect of winemaking and correct vineyard management. The combination makes everything seem real and meaningful and that’s what it’s all about in the end.” Smith also recalled an early visit to California that cemented his desire to become a working part of the California wine scene. “It was in the early 1990’s,” he declared. “Everything I saw was incredibly beautiful and the wines that were being produced were marvelous. I knew then I would one day be a part of all this and I’m sure I made the right decision almost thirty years ago.”
The most significant happenings during his tenure as winemaker and now co-owner?
“Well,” he began, “the most seminal moments would have to include planting our first estate grapes back in 2004 and then opening our state-of-the-art winery back in 2007. Both of those factors have shaped what we are today and the quality of wines we are able to produce.”
“Then, I would have to say that settings where our wines have been served would come next. DuMOL wines for Queen Elizabeth’s visit were first served at the White House in 2007 and also at a dinner for China’s President, Xi Jinping in 2015 under President Barack Obama. For the record, our DuMOL Winery selections were served numerous times during the Obama Presidency.”
As far as awards and scores are concerned, Smith proudly singled out a recent score he achieved. “It was our first award of 100 Points for one of our Pinot Noirs, and our entire family had a hand in celebrating the fact. Not many wineries achieve a 100 score and we took the honor quite seriously. We consider it something to build on and perhaps achieve again in the future.”
The future seems quite rosy for Andy Smith and the folks at DuMOL Winery. They are content with their production level and remain intent on producing the best possible wines from the vineyards they control. Not many California wineries are in that relaxed posture for either the present or for the future.
We are delighted to reintroduce DuMOL Winery to our Platinum Wine of the Month Club members. Please enjoy this wine to its fullest. Cheers!
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
We are pleased to introduce you to our 2016 DuMOL Wild Mountainside Syrah. As the name suggests, Wild Mountainside Syrah is grown exclusively in high-elevation mountain vineyards, where the vines struggle to produce small crops of truly unique character and incredible quality. I consider these among a small handful of the finest Syrah vineyards, not only in Sonoma County, but in all of California. Timbervine and Greywacke sit adjacent to one another on the steep slope of Black Mountain, high above the Russian River itself. While neighbors, their wine character is very different. Timbervine, grown on shallow ironrich volcanic soil, is peppery, savory and gamey. Greywacke, grown on mineral rich, rocky soil, is dark fruited, plush, and sensual. Hoppe-Kelly completes the picture and makes a triumphant return following a painstaking replant high up in the Mayacamas range.
The wine itself is inky and concentrated. Blackberry, boysenberry and blueberry fruit characters dominate both aromas and palate. The fruit is plush and deep, but there’s always a sense of mountain precision and detail. Aged 15 months in 33% in new French oak barrels from Tonnellerie Ermitage. I would pair this wine with a grilled rib-eye, rack of lamb, or a hearty stew.
I hope you enjoy this wine with friends and family!
Tom Pillsbury, Partner
Andy Smith - Winemaker
Scottish-native Andy Smith discovered his love for wine while working at a quirky Edinburgh wine store during college. After honeymooning in Sonoma and developing a passion for the region’s Pinot Noir, he and his wife decided their future lay in vineyards and winemaking. They quit their jobs and comfortable city lifestyle and spent the next five years “following the harvest” between New Zealand, Australia, and Northern California.
While working for an eclectic range of star producers, Andy also earned a degree in viticulture and enology from Lincoln University in Christchurch, NZ. He next gained experience as Paul Hobbs’ assistant winemaker in Sonoma, before joining DuMOL in 1999. Any has since helped grow this tiny winemaking venture into a world-renowned Russian River Valley winery.
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
Since our first harvest in 1996, we have thoughtfully assembled an unparalleled collection of vineyard sites that we individually farm to capture their full beauty. Our viticulture emphasizes soil and vine health through minimal external inputs. Our handwork in the vines is extensive, our crop levels moderate, and our fruit selection strict. Each year we ‘follow the vintage,’ intensively focused on the perfect day to harvest – neither too early nor too late. Our winemaking is intuitive and concentrates on the needs of each wine, employing the least ‘technique’ necessary. Our strong stylistic vision is precise and consistent – we strike our own path and do not follow trends. Our quality is evident in every glass, especially the last sip!
Our 2012 ‘Isobel’ Chardonnay was harvested from DuMOL rows in the Charles Heintz Vineyard located on the Sonoma Coast. Charles has been a friend of DuMOL and his vineyard has been an integral part of our wines since our inception twenty years ago. The perfect phrase to describe this vintage is ‘bountiful, beautiful, and spectacular.’ It was a mellow vintage without any real defining climatic events – not too wet or too dry, not too hot or too cold. The ‘Isobel’ reflects these traits, as it is very generous and charming with the usual display of stunning elegance, aromatic complexity, and balance – a DuMOL trademark.
At the end of the day, the wines must speak for themselves and you will be the final judge of our efforts. As I have said before to our DuMOL pre-release members, ‘I have neither doubt nor fear that you will find them as described.’
Kerry J. Murphy
DuMOL Winery Founder