Van der Kamp Vineyard
The Van der Kamp Vineyard lies at the very top of Sonoma Mountain, at a 1,400 foot elevation looking down on the town of Glen Ellen to the east and Bennett Valley to the northwest. It is possibly the oldest planting of Pinot Noir still producing, planted in the early 1950s.
The Van der Kamp family handpicks the grapes at night, and we deliver it to the winery just before sunrise. Depending on the vintage, we ferment a percentage of the grapes whole cluster. We allow the fermentation to begin with native yeast, and gently foot tread the fermentation two to three times per day. The wine is aged on the lees for 12 months in 10% new French oak, 90% neutral French oak before being bottled unfined and unfiltered.
“The Van der Kamp Vineyard was planted in 1953, making these seriously old pinot noir vines by California standards. Sam Sheehan uses a bit more whole clusters here than she does with the Manchester Ridge bottling (roughly twenty versus thirty percent) and the 2018 comes in at the same, very civilized thirteen percent. The wine offers up excellent aromatic complexity in its youthful blend of black cherries, pomegranate, a hint of blood orange, some sweet stem tones, lovely soil elements, hints of the cola to come and a discreet base of new wood. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and more closed and structured than the Manchester Ridge, with a fine core, ripe, buried tannins and a long, focused and still quite primary finish. This will need more time in the cellar to blossom, but it may be a hair longer on the backend and might just be the superior bottling of the two in due course.” 2028-2050+. 92+. John Gilman
“This is the first bottling of pure pinot meunier that I can recall tasting from California. Like the pinot noir from Van der Kamp Vineyard, the pinot meunier vines were also planted here at the top of Sonoma Mountain in 1953. The wine is a tad lighter in color than the pinot noir here and offers up a complex bouquet of bitter cherry, cassis, wood smoke, espresso, complex soil tones, a hint of cedar, lovely spice tones and a top note of cherry skin. On the palate the wine is medium-full, transparent and light on its feet, with superb focus and grip, moderate tannins and excellent intensity of flavor on the complex and beautifully balanced finish. This is more delicately styled than the pinot noir from here, but every bit as good! First class juice.” 2025-2050. 92+. John Gilman