Sonoma Coast Vineyards
Sonoma County region
“One of the reasons I feel our wine was so warmly received is the extended ageing we employ”
When John Drady first met his future wife-to-be Barbara Gold back in 1990, he admits that part of his fascination involved her long time wine industry career.
Back then, Drady was a successful real estate executive in Chicago who began utilizing wine to commemorate a particularly successful sale. Quite naturally, he used Barbara’s extensive knowledge of wines to select the perfect wine.
The couple married in 1991 and Drady’s first inclination that the wine industry could offer a plausible career change came after he founded a wine import company. Even though the company was California-based, Drady chose to remain in Chicago to handle marketing for the concern for all areas east of the Mississippi.
By 1997, the Drady’s had begun actively searching for a home in California. They found a remarkable piece of property in Western Sonoma County near Freestone and moved in. By then, the Drurys had made a minor investment in another Sonoma winery project that further tied them to the area.
“During that time I started hearing about something called the Sonoma Coast Appellation,” John Drady recalled. “It was distinct from the Russian River AVA, and was still in its infancy.”
Sensing the upside potential for the area, John and Barbara made a name search and found Sonoma Coast was still available.
“When it came back to us as untaken, we were both amazed,” Drady remarked. “Everyone we had talked with was sure that one of the big wine giants had registered it and simply put it aside for future use. We were delighted and immediately registered the name since I believe that one of the best and easiest ways to communicate to your customers is through the use of a specific AVA. To have Sonoma Coast for our actual winery name, well, it was almost too wonderful to believe.”
The decision was made in 2001 to start a new winery and a search was begun to find a consulting winemaker. A chance meeting at a wine tasting event by Barbara Drady put the final piece of the Sonoma Coast Vineyards puzzle together.
At the event, Barbara was introduced to Anthony Austin, late of Santa Barbara, who expressed great interest in the potential of the Sonoma Coast AVA. Barbara also learned that Austin was the same person who almost single handedly put Santa Barbara wines on the California wine map.
A pupil and protégée at UC Davis of wine icon Andre Tchelistcheff, Austin also became a traveling companion to the famed winemaker. In 1975, Tchelistcheff recommended that Austin be made winemaker at the new Firestone Vineyard. The rest is wine history.
Firestone became a nationally recognized entity as well as the star of Santa Barbara’s emerging wine industry.
That the remarkable Austin was even available amazed John Drady. The fact that he was also really interested in Sonoma Coast was even more important. The two inked a deal that gave Austin ownership in the fledgling winery.
“Our philosophies, particularly regarding Pinot Noir, were almost exact,” Drady explained. “It was uncanny that we agreed on almost everything.”
Sonoma Coast Vineyards’ first release occurred in 2004, a minute 480 cases of Chardonnay. An instant favorable review in England’s Decanter Magazine and succeeding complimentary reviews caused the wine to sell out in a short time.
“One of the reasons I feel our wine was so warmly received is the extended aging we employ,” Drady added. “We feel it is necessary for our Pinot Noir’s to stay in the barrel from 20-22 months and then in the bottle another 8 to 10 months prior to release. That way, the consumer is given a rare opportunity to try a wine that is completely developed and is just beginning to make its mark.”
While admitting that such a process is extremely costly to fulfill, the Dradys feel their end product is worth the expense. Critics and wine event judges have agreed, making Sonoma Coast Vineyards production extremely hard to find.
The Drady’s also admit to having sunk everything into the project.
“We will have to see how everything develops from her on,” added Drady. “All I can say right now is that we are really working hard and are all having a ball.”
Chances are that ball will bounce favorably for Sonoma Coast Vineyards. It already has a great deal of momentum behind it.
Map of the area
Dear Platinum Wine Club Members,
It is a true privilege to have this opportunity to present to you our 2003 Sonoma Coast Vineyards Pinot Noir as the Gold Medal program is considered one of the finest within our industry.
Since beginning production 6 years ago, we have had one very special goal in mind; to produce the finest Pinot Noirs in all of the United States. Our 2003 was in many respects a break through in our efforts out here on the Sonoma Coast as Mother Nature and another year of maturity in the vineyard allowed us to create a Pinot Noir of unique and special character. Our 2003 Pinot Noir earned us recognition as one of 61 Pinot Noir producers in the world (14 from California!) who were invited to the 20th International Pinot Noir Celebration held last July in Oregon.
On the far western edge of the Sonoma Coast AVA, we have identified an area adjacent to Freestone that produces fruit that is perfectly suited for producing wines of unique character and balance. This area is situated west of the Russian River Valley and lies a mere 4-5 miles from the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean. We call this region "The Extreme Sonoma Coast.” The challenge of growing fruit in this dramatically cold region is demanding but well worth the risk as it holds the potential for producing wines of exceptional complexity and elegance.
Our 2003 Pinot Noir marks Anthony Austin's 28th vintage as a winemaker. Anthony joined me in founding Sonoma Coast Vineyards with a passion and commitment for great Pinot Noir seldom seen. Anthony's winemaking career includes his pioneering days as a winemaker in Santa Barbara where he was the founding winemaker at Firestone Winery. Anthony pioneered that regions very first Pinot Noirs. Anthony's "cold climate" winemaking skills are perfectly suited for our efforts on the "Extreme Sonoma Coast" as I am confident you will discover tasting this wonderful wine.