Eden Rift Vineyards
One of the newest wineries of Northern California's Cienega Valley, Eden Rift Vineyards produces site-driven wines that celebrate this remote, isolated property's unique viticultural history.
A brand new venture in Cienega Valley of San Benito County, Eden Rift Vineyards was established by Christian Pillsbury in 2017. The 500-acre property has had vines planted on it since 1849, making it one of the state's oldest continually producing vineyards - and interestingly enough, it was originally planted to Pinot Noir, which was an extremely rare sighting in an era when most California vineyards were planted to the Mission grape, Zinfandel, Carignan, or Alicante Bouschet. Today, Christian Pillsbury, along with winemaker Cory Waller, is celebrating the history of this isolated, wind-swept mountain canyon property by crafting a small collection of estate grown Burgundian style wines.
Christian Pillsbury is a San Francisco native who grew enamored with California's history as a young man. More specifically, he became captivated by the early wines of California because they struck him as living archives - liquid time-capsules that harkened back to a more rugged, adventurous time in the Golden State's history. After getting his start working at a wine store where he stocked shelves and represented such iconic brands as Rayas and Leroy, Christian played an integral role in Coravin, the maker of a sophisticated wine preservation tool, and he helped establish the brand across Asia. Christian then decided to look for vineyard land, ideally for Pinot Noir, and initially had his sights set on Sonoma County.
However, one trip to Hollister in San Benito County changed everything for Christian - and he's not the first to identify this under-the-radar region as prime Pinot Noir country. Just a mile south of Eden Rift is Calera Wine Co., whose founder also zeroed in on this region for the production of Pinot Noir. One of the most unique aspects of Hollister is that it holds some of California's few bands of limestone soils - the type of soil any Pinot Noir winegrower would kill for.
Christian purchased the San Benito County property in 2017 from Pietra Santa, a winery that focused mostly on Italian grape varieties, and he immediately went to work replanting the vineyards and turning the focus back to Pinot Noir. He did keep a block of century-old, head trained Zinfandel and Pinot Gris that was uniquely planted on terraces.
Christian remains intrigued by the land's vibrant history and makes every effort to guard and celebrate the property with his stellar, award-winning Eden Rift wines. This little valley and new winery seem poised for greatness, and we look forward to the creations that are yet to come. We know our Pinot Noir Wine Club members will enjoy this award-winning Pinot Noir. Cheers!
Map of the area
Cory Waller - Winemaker
Born and raised in Hollister, just a few miles from Eden Rift Vineyards, Cory Waller spent his childhood exploring the forests, canyons and riverbeds of the Cienega Valley. He knows the back roads of this remote appellation like few others, and he counts local farmers, ranchers and fishermen in nearby Monterey Bay among his close knit group of friends and colleagues.
Soon after college, Cory became passionate about wine, particularly Pinot Noir, and decided to make winemaking his career. he learned from some of the most renowned winemakers in the United States, working at Etude Winery in Napa Valley before moving to Oregon to work for Soter Vineyards, Bergstrom, and J.K. Carriere. He also spent time winemaking in New Zealand at Neudorf and Martinborough Vineyards, and was the assistant winemaker at neighboring iconic estate, Calera Winery, before settling as head winemaker at Pietra Santa. When the property was purchased and changed names to Eden Rift in 2017, Cory stayed on. He enjoys finding the 'voice' of the site and crafting wines that celebrate it.