Anderson Valley AVA
A perfect example of a successful winery accepting the challenge of finding new vistas and achievements
The names Dan and Margaret Duckhorn and their Duckhorn Vineyards are usually associated with great Merlots that made the Duckhorns iconic figures in the California wine industry. What many people don’t know is the fact that Dan and Margaret Duckhorn were similarly interested in the venerable (and most difficult to grow and vinify) Pinot Noir.
To recount the rest of the story, we must go back in time more than two and a half decades, to the year 1990 to be exact. The Duckhorns have become interested in Pinot Noir (prior to the incredible rise in popularity of the Burgundian varietal that took place years later). Dan Duckhorn sets out to locate a potential growing area for the notorious vines that flourish under the most inhospitable conditions imaginable. After some searching, he decides that the nearby (to Napa Valley) Anderson Valley seems to fit his criteria.
“Anderson Valley stood from west to east and had ideal clay soils and a marine-influenced climate that offered long, mild days and cooling fog with great winds off the Pacific Ocean,” Duckhorn explained. “Some days experienced diurnal swings of more than 45 to 50 degrees. To me it seemed ideal for growing Pinot Noir.”
Duckhorn was among the first to discover Anderson Valley as a great growing area for what many growers consider nature’s most difficult grape. He located some property that suited his needs and the Goldeneye Winery became his challenging endeavor for the next twenty-five years.
Along the way, Napa native Michael Accurso became the new winery’s winemaker.
Is the name 'Goldeneye’ related to the 1995 James Bond movie?
“The name Goldeneye is derived from the migrating Canadian duck on its way to Mexico,” explained Michael Accurso. “It’s a diving duck that derives its food from the ocean. The goldeneyes used the Anderson Valley for shelter during bad weather and Dan saw a flock of them in a pond on the land he has just acquired. The name fit in well with his other fowl involvement.”
To say that Goldeneye Winery did for California Pinot Noir what Duckhorn Vineyards did for Merlot would be a stretch. What Goldeneye Winery did accomplish was to establish the rustic Anderson Valley as a top-notch producer of Pinot Noir fruit.
Goldeneye’s first release came in 2000, a minute 375 cases that was instantly hailed by industry periodicals and wine competitions. Plaudits reined in as the Duckhorns continued to develop and refine their fledgling vineyards and winery.
Today, more than 200 acres (comprising four different vineyards with varying micro-climatization) form the Goldeneye Winery’s Estate program. The vineyards were among the first to achieve sustainable certification through the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance and earn the coveted LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold environmental certification (only three wineries have thus far earned this honor).
To explain Goldeneye Winery’s preeminent success is to note the detail that Winemaker Michael Accurso utilizes in producing his winery’s award-winning wines.
“We have a total of twenty-four different Pinot Noir clones to work with in our estate program,” Accurso went on. “We ferment more than 200 individual lots of Pinot Noir each vintage, roughly one fermentation for every acre we farm. We pick at lower brix and use less French oak during the aging aspect of our wines. The resulting wines are deep, lush and complex, with an almost wild, rustic grace that frames the fruit in an incredibly compelling way. This process allows for the terroir facet of Anderson Valley to fully express itself through the wines.”
Accurso further explained his fascination with Pinot Noir. “Pinot Noir is so demanding, so delicate and so defined by how it is grown, that by the time the grapes come off the vine, the wines are largely already made.”
Whatever the process, the wines of Goldeneye Winery stand at the very pinnacle of Burgundian varietal correctness at the international level. Such efforts have propelled Anderson Valley’s reputation as one of the preeminent locations for growing Pinot Noir.
These dynamics are an essential part of the Dan and Margaret Duckhorn saga and a remarkable tribute to Goldeneye Winery. It is another perfect example of a successful winery operation accepting the challenge of finding new vistas and challenges to overcome and achieve.
The Duckhorns have left their imprimatur on numerous projects within the California wine industry and must be considered iconic figures in today’s modern wine world.
It is a great pleasure to introduce their marvelous Goldeneye Winery Pinot Noir to our Platinum Wine Club members. Enjoy!
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
Our Goldeneye Winery began making acclaimed Pinot Noirs from its estate winery in the Anderson Valley in 1996. Blending grapes from four Estate vineyards planted to 24 clones of Pinot Noir on 13 different rootstocks, Goldeneye is dedicated to crafting wines of refinement and elegance from a rich palate of terroir-inspired fruit. Reflecting the Mendocino Coast's unique marine influences, sites and soils, these grapes create complex, elegant Pinots. To further enhance natural depth and distinctiveness, only a small percentage of the finest fruit is selected for each vintage, before applying small-lot, artisan winemaking techniques.
For this particular wine featured, and proud to note receive a 92 Point score from both Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast, our Confluence Vineyard is located in the heart of the Anderson Valley in Mendocino County. The vineyard offers a unique range of soils, from benchland gravel strata, as well as varying exposures. This natural diversity allows us to choose clones ideally suited to each specific vineyard block, ultimately yielding grapes possessing a variety of expressive flavors and characteristics. The opulent Pinot Noir produced from this valley floor vineyard displays voluptuous red fruit components and plush, supple tannins. Delivering to you, we are excited to featured and share the 2012 vintage of our Confluence Vineyard Pinot Noir – one of Dan Duckhorn's personal favorite wines.