Philo Ridge Vineyards
Anderson Valley AVA
Award-winning winery and premium, small-lot Pinot Noir
Located five miles up a dirt road from the floor of the Anderson Valley, Philo Ridge Vineyards is a beautifully secluded 50-acre estate surrounded by redwood forest and views of nothing but trees, valleys, and open blue skies. Owners Fred Buonanno and Heather McKelvey purchased the property in 1999 after searching for over four years for the perfect place to plant their roots and begin a venture into the wine business. For these two newcomers, Philo Ridge Vineyards and its stunning estate were just what they were looking for.
Before moving to Anderson Valley, husband and wife team Fred and Heather lived in San Francisco, each holding successful careers in the tech industry. Fred worked as a global distribution manager for Nortel Networks (telecommunications), often traveling upwards of 200,000 miles a year setting up mobile distribution channels. Heather was the senior director of engineering for software giant, AOL. While both were extremely successful in their own right, Fred and Heather decided to leave the tech world behind to follow their main passion in life - wine.
In 1999, the couple found paradise in a 50-acre estate in Anderson Valley. Located two miles off the electrical grid and completely wind and solar powered, the property had acres of rundown vineyards and was once home to the now defunct Christine Woods Winery. Fred and Heather purchased the land in 1999 and with the help of viticulturist Norman Koble, went to work replanting the existing vineyard while adding acreage of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. By 2001, Philo Ridge became a bonded winery and they released the first vintage in 2004 - a tiny 167 cases.
Today, Philo Ridge Vineyards produces eleven wines and just under 2,500 cases a year. The winery is best known for its award-winning Pinot Noir, which has been the primary focus at the estate since day one. In fact, the New York International Wine Competition named Philo Ridge the ‘North Coast Pinot Noir Winery for 2015.’ Most of the grapes are grown at the Philo Ridge property, with just a touch of fruit coming from select nearby vineyards. Heather and Fred work together crafting the Philo Ridge wines, but Heather stands as the head winemaker of the operation.
Philo Ridge Vineyards wines are available for tasting at the recently opened tasting room in the heart of downtown Boonville, just a few miles south of Philo in Anderson Valley.
Heather McKelvey - Winemaker
Heather works closely with vineyard manager Norman Kobler, who is the son of the founders of Lazy Creek Winery (Philo) and brings many years of hands on experience in viticulture and enology. Norman’s dedication to Philo Ridge and continuing Heather and Fred’s education has been invaluable.
Heather’s winemaking style is both sustainable and vegan, meaning no animal products are used in the fining process. She makes a point to reuse everything at the winery, including the leftover compost which is put back in the vineyard to help add minerals to the soil. When crafting her award-winning Pinot Noirs, Heather enjoys blending up to five or six different clones together to gain the desired complexity and balance of flavors. While she is relatively new to the winemaking business, Heather has proven she can stand among the best.