Napa Valley AVA
Arguably among the finest vineyards in the entire nation
Founded by wine industry icon William (Bill) Hill, Expression Wines sends us this rare example of a premier Pinot Noir as this month’s Platinum Wine Club selection. Hill’s record speaks for itself. The former Oklahoman is founder of numerous wineries and properties (William Hill Winery (sold to Gallo in 2007), Stagecoach Vineyards, Bighorn Cellars, Diamond Mountain Ranch and Mt. Veeder Estates) that are among the most-respected entities in the wine industry.
For the record, Expression Wines is Hill’s Pinot Noir-specific platform for showcasing his favorite varietal. The grapes for these wines come from a number of different plots, each located at different latitudes and each intended to provide an insight to the most difficult (to grow) varietal from Burgundy.
Expression Wines’ initial release of just 200 cases occurred in 2006 and met with almost instant critical acclaim. The scores recorded were among the highest ever recorded for an introductory winery, especially for the first release, and have continued unabated since that time.
“We were incredibly pleased with the industry’s initial response,” recalled Bill Hill recently. “When the great meltdown that accompanied the recession a short while later took its toll on many wineries, Expression Wines and its limited production of Pinot Noirs was able to survive and grow. With the continuing interest the general consuming public has displayed regarding Pinot Noir, it seems that we are in a wonderful position to continue making our award-winning wines at the highest levels.”
Hill uses his forty-plus years of winery and winemaking experience to secure fruit that he feels will be exceptional as a wine when vinified. He owns vineyards in numerous locations including the Sta. Rita Hills, the Sonoma Coast (home of this month’s selection from Gap’s Crown Vineyard), the Anderson Valley and also the Eola-Amity Hills of Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
Such diversity of fruit allows Bill Hill to explore different approaches in developing what he terms “the perfect Pinot Noir”. “Each sub-appellation mirrors its own terroir,” Hill informed. “The different degrees of latitude affect the fruit in certain ways. Our vineyards are specifically located to produce that uniqueness.”
By the way, each degree of latitude is featured on the impressive Expressions Wines label. The Gap’s Crown Vineyard is located at 38° as opposed to its sister wines at higher latitudes (Sta. Rita Hills is 34 degrees and Eola-Amity Hills is 44 degrees, a wide variance of latitudes).
Hill entrusts the winemaking duties to Patrick Mahaney, a well-respected veteran of the Robert Mondavi Wine Group. Mahaney is a classical winemaker and earned a UC-Davis Biochemistry degree in addition to one for Winemaking. During his tenure at Mondavi, Mahoney served as Director of Napa Valley Winemaking Operations as well as Vice President of Global Wine Quality, a most prestigious position when considering Mondavi’s multi-continent commitment to the wine industry.
“Our Expression wines are really cutting edge, but are done in a really safe manner,” commented Kevin O’Brien, general manager for Expression Wines. “Bill Hill is interested in new choices, but these must be safe choices. We have created a great deal of excitement so far, and we intend to do the same for many years forward.”
Hill is also a co-owner of Premier Pacific Vineyards, the largest developer of high-end vineyards in the United States. His co-owner is Dick Wollack, a Stanford Graduate School of Business degree holder who has helped develop vineyards in California, Oregon and Washington.
The fruit for the Expression 2013 Gap’s Crown Pinot Noir comes from vineyards located south of the city of Santa Rosa, just outside the town of Penngrove near the Cotati line. Here the southwestern hills of Sonoma Mountain face the Petaluma Wind Gap and its lingering morning fog. The fruit here ripens slowly and allows for balanced acidity and really ripe fruit flavors and aromas.
Most industry insiders will agree that Pinot Noir is one difficult varietal to overcome, but the tenacity and dedication that Bill Hill’s Expression Wines have displayed has placed it among the top Pinot producers in California. Enjoy!
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
My name is Bill Hill and I am a long time winegrower in California and Oregon. My career has been built upon the well-known principal that the quality of wine is determined primarily by the vineyard. This idea has led me on a forty years’ odyssey to understand climates and soils and how they shape and determine wine quality. Along the way I have had the opportunity to design, develop, farm and make wine from the mountains of Napa Valley, the hills of Western Sonoma, the beautiful Anderson Valley in Mendocino, the bucolic Eola-Amity Hills in Oregon and the Ocean cooled Sta. Rita Hills in Santa Barbara. It has been a great ride…
To make the best possible wine, it is essential to source from sites with near ideal climates and soils; however, you can’t stop there. The vineyard must be developed in a state-of-the-art fashion in every way, and then it must be farmed meticulously, following practices that are known to result in high wine quality. All good winemakers know that the potential quality of the wine they make is determined by the time the grapes are picked.
As if that is not enough, to make the best wine, one must then do everything in the cellar with the same tenacious dedication to perfection that was evoked by the farming. To make the best possible wine one must start with great vineyards and then do everything else right.
Gap’s Crown Vineyard
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to design over 50 vineyards. One of my favorite Pinot Noir vineyards is Gap’s Crown Vineyard. Nestled on the shoulder of Sonoma mountain, this vineyard has it all: perched above the fog on Sun drenched west facing slopes; bathed in ocean cooled air; and rooted in rocky, well drained soils.
Over the last fifty years an army of winegrower pioneers have scoured the West Coast to find the places where the best Pinot Noir could be make. I have had the honor and pleasure of serving in this army. In my case this led to a career of developing vineyards in these best places. Early in this process, I decided that I wanted produce Pinot Noir from these areas and show-case the differences as well as their greatness.
In 2006 we initiated a new brand that would carry the word “EXPRESSION", implying the expression of terroir, together with a number designating the latitude of the vineyard. For example, EXPRESSION 44° designates Oregon and EXPRESSION 38° designates Sonoma.
Beginning with the 2006 vintage I have been making wines with my long-time friend and winemaking associate, Patrick Mahaney. Patrick has been making wine for almost as long as I have been growing grapes…he is one of the most talented winemakers I know.
The 2013 vintage was spectacular and we are pleased to present to you the 2013 EXPRESSION 38° PINOT NOIR, from GAP’s CROWN VINEYARD.
Patrick Mahaney - Winemaker
An industry veteran with extensive vineyard experience, Patrick Mahaney is the Expression winemaker and brings over 30 years of vineyard and winemaking history to the Expression Wines brand. Prior to joining Expression Wines, Mahaney had a 24-year career at Robert Mondavi Winery where he specialized in perfecting wine quality and honed his craft to an incredibly talented level. While at Mondavi, Mahaney served as the Director of Napa Valley Winemaking Operations before being promoted as the winery’s Vice President of Global Wine Quality.
Mahaney is also currently the winemaker for Bill Hill’s second wine label, Tetra, for which he crafts a number of Bordeaux-style wines. For Hill’s development company, Premier Pacific Vineyards, Mahaney serves as the Managing Director of Grape Sales and Leasing. In this position, Mahaney leads the marketing efforts for the sale of grapes produced by PPV’s vineyard properties.
Patrick Mahaney is a UC Davis graduate with a degree in Biochemistry. He brings well-rounded experience and incredible dedication to Expression Wines, and his numerous accolades are proof of his veteran talents.
About the Vineyard
Expression Wines’ 2009 Roserock Vineyard 44° Pinot Noir comes from the Eola-Amity Hills appellation of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. This valley is comprised of 37,900 acres and is home to many of Oregon’s finest Pinot Noir vineyards. The climate in this region is greatly influenced by its position due east of the Van Duzer Corridor, which provides a break in the coast range that allows cool Pacific Ocean air to flow through. This breeze drops temperatures in the Eola-Amity Hills, especially during late summer afternoons, contributing to the ideal conditions for cool-climate loving Pinot Noir.
The Roserock Vineyard is planted exclusively to Pinot Noir and is comprised of 131 planted acres. Perched on a ridge top towards the southern end of the Eola-Amity Hills AVA, Roserock Vineyard and its stellar wines is one of the primary reasons the Eola-Amity Hills AVA is emerging as one of the world’s most exciting winegrowing regions for Pinot Noir.