Nature and nurture
When MacPhail was founded, just a few years ago, the notion was simple. Respect the land, and each other. Have fun. Create wines to share with friends, or even better, wines that will help make new friends. Be serious about our craft, but not overly serious about ourselves. Make Pinot Noir. Drink Pinot Noir. Celebrate Pinot Noir. Maybe a little Chardonnay too.
In all this, we’ve done pretty well. By seeking out grower partners we feel comfortable with, and who share our sense of who we are, we’ve landed on the Sonoma Coast and the Deep End of Mendocino’s Anderson Valley, where some of the finest Pinot Noir vineyards call home. Explore with us. Our spirit of adventure continues, and all are welcome as we discover great Pinot Noir, together.
Sonoma County is a wondrous place, stretching East from the Pacific Ocean inward to a natural break with the warmer climes found on the leeward side of the Mayacamas Range. There are 16 distinct AVA’s (growing regions) within Sonoma County, but we spend our time where Pinot Noir and Chardonnay thrive.
The beating heart of Pinot Noir is found here, close to the marine influences of the Pacific Ocean, which brings fog gently but persistently into the valley down the Russian River and through the Petaluma Wine Gap in the coastal hills prominent in western Sonoma. Day versus night is a wonder, with temperatures that drop as much as 40 degrees, extending the growing season so that fruit retains crisp acidity but also develops layers of flavor and after all, it’s flavor we’re after.
Coastal Sonoma is rugged, even extreme. Vineyards here can often see the ocean on a clear day, and the wonder is always, will the fruit really ripen? While fog fills the air, some of our favorite vineyard sit right at or above the fog line, allowing for an interesting dance that sambas right through the challenges to offer distinctive fruit like you’ll find in our Mardikian Estate Vineyard.
Cool Coastal air builds through a 15-mile gap, tunneling the wind and fog in a narrow pathway that builds from Tomales Bay and Bodega Bay and ultimately runs to San Francisco Bay. Early mornings are foggy, and late morning brings the Sun. Breezes return each afternoon, along with more fog. What’s a grape to do? Vineyards here, like the famed Gap’s Crown and Sangiacomo Roberts Road, ripen later, work harder to deliver fruit, but are long on intense, balanced, showcase wines.
Tucked into the southwestern corner of the Russian River Valley, it’s a world unto its own. Fog is the signature here, along with Goldridge soil, the most sought after dirt for growers farming Pinot Noir. Consistent and cool, both for its weather and for, well, just a coolness factor that maybe, just maybe, shows in the wines.
Drive two hours north of San Francisco and head to the coast. You’ll enter a world apart, with rolling hills and a language all its own. The Valley stretches 15 miles to the Northwest, with dense woods framing one side of the valley, and more open grassy knolls to the northeast. As it narrows toward the Pacific, it is affectionately known as the Deep End. Cold and severe, vineyards along ridges sit above the fog line and the maritime influences moderate the climate, allowing summer heat to rise dramatically. MacPhail has a long history here, with distinctive vineyards like Toulouse, Wightman House and Ferrington.