Graton Ridge Cellars
Russian River Valley AVA
One of the best-kept secrets in West Sonoma County
Two really close friends, Chad Richard and Bob Zeches, found a mutual admiration of the challenging Pinot Noir grape reason enough to enter the wine business. The pair started Furthermore Pinot Noir and released their first wines (a tiny 50 cases in number) in 2006. Five years later, they purchased their first vineyard on Willow Creek Road near the town of Occidental. Richard, who credited his father for his early interest in wine, named it after his father, the Navina’s Vineyard. By then the fledgling winery had grown to around 2,000 cases and had become a really top-notch producer of Pinot Noir.
Both Richard and Zeches were products of the lucrative high-tech business and considered themselves serial entrepreneurs. Their mission as owners of the now successful winery were to study, on a long-term basis, how Pinot Noir expresses itself regionally throughout California, and in particular those growing areas influenced by coastal climates.
Little has changed for the entity in the ensuing decade plus.
When the opportunity arose in 2015 to purchase Graton Ridge Cellars located just outside the City of Sebastopol, the pair jumped at the chance. Graton Ridge Cellars began life as an apple orchard in 1945 and eventually evolved as a boutique family winery for the founding Paul Family. When offered for sale, the exceptional winery package included a working winery, tasting room and also a prime Sonoma Coast AVA Pinot Noir vineyard. Such a combination would be particularly hard to find at this time.
“This addition allowed us to grow our business and establish a real footprint for our brands,” co-owner Chad Richard offered. “We have always sourced all our fruit and Graton Ridge Vineyard provided us with additional high quality grapes that we can utilize in our estate blends.
Both Furthermore Pinot Noir and Graton Ridge Cellars will continue making wines under different labels with a total combined production of around 3,000 cases annually. “We have grown our winery slowly,” Richard continued. “We would love to see it grow over the next five years, hopefully to somewhere in the 5 – 7,000-case level. It’s all about sourcing our grapes, and we are believers in the hand shaking approach to fruit procurement as opposed to long term contracts. A lot can happen to a vineyard involved in a long term contract and we wanted to remain as flexible as possible.”
Graton Ridge Cellars sits right in the heart of the Russian River Valley, a growing area already famous for producing some of the finest Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays to be found in California.
Accolades and awards have become an integral aspect of the Graton Ridge Cellars/Furthermore Pinot Noir union, with both entities earning major honors. The prestigious San Francisco International Wine competition even named the entity Winemaker of the Year for 2015, an incredible distinction for the diminutive winery.
Winemaker for Graton Ridge Cellars is a wine industry veteran, Erica Stancliff. Stan cliff is a Cal State Fresno enology graduate with an international flavoring in her resume. She interned at Vina Cobos in Mendoza, one of Argentina’s top wineries. Stancliff also worked for Napa Valley’s Rudd Winery and Vineyards as well as Sonoma’s well-respected Trombetta Family Wines. She considers the Pinot Noir a most versatile grape that can be made into a light, refreshing wine or, additionally, a more robust version that can stand up to the heartiest dishes. She feels that the Pinot Noir bridges the gap and is a winemaker’s artistic dream that can be made into a specific style that the winemaker chooses.
Enjoy this marvelous Platinum Wine Club selection Pinot Noir from Graton Ridge Cellars.