La Pitchoune Winery
Sonoma County region
Making a huge splash in winery circles with its impressive vineyard-designated Pinot Noirs
When an unknown winery can claim a major accomplishment from its very beginning, the story behind such a feat is worth repeating.
The winery in question is La Pitchoune Winery co-owned by Tracy and Peter Joachim Nielson and Frenchman Andrew Berge. For the record, La Pitchoune means ‘the little one’ in French and speaks to small production, small lots and the idea that its small size is the company’s greatest asset.
La Pitchoune Winery released its first wines in 2012, a smallish 200 cases that sold out quickly. A series of high scores and plaudits from wine industry periodicals virtually assured the fledgling operation of continued success.
It wasn’t all that easy to get started. For five years, Tracy Nielsen attempted to enter the wine business but was turned away by several possibles due to her lack of experience. A chance meeting with winemaker and entrepreneur, Andrew Berge afforded her the opportunity she had been seeking. Along with her husband, Peter, Tracy Nielsen cemented a partnership with Berge and has never looked back.
“He wanted out of his job at the time and I wanted in,” recounted Nielsen. “We saw eye-to-eye on several things and Andrew’s connections made it all happen.”
Berge spends a lot of time in the vineyards developing terroir-driven vines and has connections to some of the finest vineyards in California. He is also a noted winemaker with a slew of medals and accolades that attest to his proficiency in the lab.
“Our vineyards are works of art unto themselves,” Berge commented. “They are painstakingly grown, patiently cared for and are allowed to reach fruition at their own pace. They attest to the true magic of the grape.” His Master’s degree in Agriculture from UC Davis is something that separates Berge from other accomplished winemakers. His quest is to change the public’s perception of California wines and of Burgundian varietals in particular. His wines not only resemble classic Burgundian reds, they actually are the classic California version of French Pinot Noir.
La Pitchoune Winery and its owners have developed a reputation for not being afraid of taking the risks necessary to produce world-class wines. By combining passion, art and science, La Pitchoune Winery ensures that each blend it releases is expressed to its fullest potential.
It is a great pleasure that we introduce La Pitchoune Winery to our Pinot Noir Wine Club members. Enjoy!
Andrew Berge - Winemaker
Andrew Berge is a true renaissance man that wears many hats that include artist, scientist, farmer, gourmet chef, mountain climber and, of course, as his partners swear, master winemaker. The 37-year-old German born Berge holds an Agricultural Engineering degree from the University of Minnesota and a Master’s in Agricultural Engineering from UC Davis, foster home to California’s greatest winemakers.
His love is classic red Burgundies (Volnay-Santenots Premier Cru wine in particular) and he is determined to produce the exemplary California Pinot Noir. He apprenticed in New Zealand (Rapaura Springs) and in Sonoma County, California (Chasseur Wines under Bill Hunter). He also makes wines under the Spell Estate Winery label that has also earned him distinction.