Anderson Valley, California (6) a big tasting with lots of producers



A boutique winery started by Wells Guthrie, I first came across them as part of the In Pursuit of Balance movement. Wells began making wines himself after stints working at top Burgundian, Rhône and California domains in 1999, but he had a big style change some years later. His journey towards picking earlier began in 2003. ‘I really wasn’t liking the way the wines were ageing,’ he recalls. ‘I think by California standards the alcohols were moderate at around 14-14.5%, but the wines lacked the energy and vibrancy I wanted a few years later.’ He recalls that there were certain vintages where he wanted to pick, but for logistical reasons he might have to wait a few days. Then he might end up picking a bit too ripe and be forced to add some water and acid to bring them back. ‘I can taste the wines that have been adulterated,’ he says. ‘You can’t hide it. You can keep them fresh and bright with a little water and acid, but there’s an over-ripe compote-like flavour that comes back. It’s really strange to watch that happen. I would taste these wines at five years and they would taste compote-y. I want that on my pancakes, not in my glass.’

2005 proved to be the turning point, where Guthrie decided to act on his instincts. There was a bad frost that hit his Pinot Noir vineyards, and production went from 48 barrels to two, all of which he sold to Raj Parr for Michael Mina. It gave him a chance to start again. ‘In 2006 I went all in,’ he recalls. ‘Nothing was over 13% alcohol. When the berries came in they were more turgid. Before they were slightly softening. I had been waiting for the seeds to brown; I was waiting for this theoretical ripeness.’ Guthrie says that he got lucky with the Anderson Valley. ‘We have Pinot Noir at the winery which we sell to Kosta Browne and others,’ he explains. ‘If I pick that at the potential alcohols I’m working with in the Anderson Valley, you just get really thin, insipid wine. It is light for light’s sake. There is low alcohol but there is no flavour, no depth and no concentration.’ Guthrie says that the change from 14/14.5% alcohol to 13% is huge. ‘I don’t have to mess around with the wines any more.’

His customers weren’t happy with the change. ‘They hated it,’ recalls Guthrie. ‘For the Syrah, we had been getting 95/96 point scores from Parker. I wasn’t showing Parker the wines any more and I lost that segment of the population that wants more opulence. There was a huge difference in the palate weight, the structure and mouthfeel. They want more unctuousness in the wines.’ But he wasn’t overly concerned about having to find a new customer base. ‘The clients that are buying the wines now are the clients I wanted from the beginning anyway.’ But the 2008 financial crisis caused the business a lot of stress, and it led to Wells selling to the Jackson Family in 2016, staying on for a while but later leaving for fresh challenges. Most of the Copain wines come from Anderson Valley fruit, with a few from Yorkville Highlands and also Sonoma Coast.

Copain Dupratt Chardonnay 2020 Anderson Valley
Dense and textural with nuts and spice as well as pear and aniseed. Structured and savoury. 92/100

Copain Edmeades Pinot Noir 2020 Anderson Valley
This has lovely fruit: strawberries, cherries, some dusty tannins. Has lovely fruit but also nice structure and a hint of wood, but more old wood than new. Lovely balance and restraint here. 94/100

Copain Maggy Hawk Pinot Noir 2020 Anderson Valley
Juicy and bright with red cherry and some cranberry notes. Fresh and focused with lots of fruit, showing a supple character and some nice structure. Showy but also really elegant with a directness to the fruit. 95/100

Copain Maggy Hawk Pinot Noir 2019 Anderson Valley
Elegant, supple and finely spiced with sweet red cherry fruit and a fine structural quality. Nice sweet core to the fruit with a touch of liqourice and fine spices. This has real ease and elegance. 94/100

Copain Abel Pinot Noir 2019 Anderson Valley
Lovely floral aromatics here: sappy cherry fruit with nice green hints that add to the elegant red cherry and plum fruit. This is delicate and fine with real finesse. Hints of ginger and cinnamon on the finish: so fine and detailed. 95/100

Copain Baker Ranch Syrah 2017 Anderson Valley
This is beautiful: there’s a fine pepper and mint edge to the concentrated red cherry and berry fruit with nice structure. Subtly meaty with some wild strawberry and olive character. Nicely structured, too. 94/100



Twomey are owned by the Duncan family of Silver Oak. They make wine in four areas, with wineries in the Napa, Anderson, Russian River and Willamette Valleys. They purchased their winery in the Anderson Valley in 2019, buying the Bearman Bend vineyard, which had been planted in 1969 by the Koblers, with 38 acres of Pinot Noir. They also have a vineyard in the Deep End called Monument, which they purchased earlier, in 2010.

Twomey Anderson Valley Pinot Noir 2020 California
A blend of Monument and Bearman Bend. Lovely weight here. Fresh red cherry and plum fruit with nice precision. Lovely sweet red cherries and raspberries with a nice grainy structure and just a hint of spicy oak, integrating well with the ripe, elegant fruit. Nice finesse here, with freshness and good weight. 94/100

Twomey Hirsch Pinot Noir 2020 Sonoma Coast, California
Such a distinctive wine. Very supple and fine with delicate cherry fruit and some redcurrant hints. Lovely elegance and brightness here: pure and expressive. Some peppery hints here, too. Lovely juiciness and elegance. Lighter in style but with a lovely vibrancy and with some energy. 94/100

Twomey Monument Tree Pinot Noir 2019 Anderson Valley, California
17 acres, clay soils, surrounded by redwoods. Deep end of the valley. This has a fine spicy quality with minerals, a twist of wet rock, and a hint of cedar. There’s some earthy savouriness here with a core of sweet fruit surrounded by fine spices and some woody hints. Distinctive. 93/100

Twomey Bearman Bend Pinot Noir 2020 Anderson Valley, California
The home block around the vineyard. Lovely fruit here: fresh, supple, vivid with some peppery hints and lovely fresh, vivid, slightly silky fruit. Nice flesh and structure here, with good acidity and a touch of fleshiness. Nice stuff. 95/100

Read Holland

Ashley Holland moved back from New Zealand to work for Bob Cabral, where she’s associate winemaker. The Reads called in 2016 and they said they’d found a vineyard in the Deep End and she said yes to the project. So it started with two vineyard sites in 2016. ‘The project is just to keep me feeling fresh as a winemaker,’ says Ashley. ‘If I can find a vineyard I love, I’ll make the wine.’

Read Holland Wiley Vineyard Riesling 2021 Anderson Valley
Planted in 1976, and there’s a bit of Muscat in the block (3-4%) which is co-fermented. Concrete egg, puncheon and stainless steel. Limey and intense with lovely texture, and just a hint of apricot and . It’s fine grained with a slight salinity, showing lovely weight and balance. It’s dry but there’s some volume here with nice weight and presence. So fine and expressive, with high dry extract. 94/100

Read Holland Pinot Noir Deep End 2018 Anderson Valley
This has lovely juicy cherry and berry fruits with a rich core and some fruit sweetness, but also some appealing stony, mineral notes, and a touch of minty freshness on the finish. Very stylish and shows elegance and poise. 93/100

Read Holland Pinot Noir Deep End 2017 Anderson Valley
Fresh and expressive with bright cherry and raspberry fruit. Sweetly fruited but has nice bright acidity. Fine spices and a touch of mint. Lovely balance with some dusty, spicy tannins on the finish. 94/100



One of the pioneering wineries of the Anderson Valley, Navarro is the project begun by Ted Bennett and Deborah Cahn, who moved to the valley in 1973 and bought a large sheep ranch after selling a bay area retail business. They planted vines – initially Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir – and the first wines with the Navarro name were made in 1977. Most of their wines are sold direct from cellar door and mailing list, and they make a good quantity of wine (40 000 cases on average).

Navarro Vineyards Pinot Blanc 2022 Anderson Valley
Fresh and expressive with appealing pear and peach fruit as well as some citrus freshness. Lovely energy here with a delicate spiciness as well as some floral fruit. Primary and delicious. 91/100

Navarro Vineyards Deep End Gewurztraminer 2021 Anderson Valley
Nice weight here. Fine, spicy and grapey with a hint of sweetness. Lovely spicy hints here. Some table grape. Quite weighty and substantial – a very nice expression of this variety. 91/100

Navarro Vineyards Middle Ridge Pinot Noir 2019 Anderson Valley
13.3% alcohol. Classic style with some spicy structure underneath the grainy cherry and plum fruit. Quite elegant in style with fresh red cherry fruit and hints of iodine and meat in the background. Very stylish. 93/100

Navarro Vineyards Methode L’Ancienne Pinot Noir 2019 Anderson Valley
Juicy and fresh with a sense of brightness and elegance to the sweet cherry and plum fruit. Finely spiced and grainy with sweet fruit but also balance. Assured. 93/100



Brashley is an amalgamation of the names Bram and Ashley, who hail from upstate New York, but decided to start a winery in the Anderson Valley. By coincidence, the winemaker is also an Ashley – Ashley Holland.

Brashley Vineyards White Pinot Noir 2021 Anderson Valley
Mandarin, pear and apple notes here as well as crystalline citrus fruit. Lovely weight and balance with some fine spicy notes on the finish. Very expressive. 92/100

Brashley Vineyards Bevel Vineyard Pinot Noir 2021 Anderson Valley
Good intensity here: nicely concentrated cherry and berry fruit with hints of liqourice and iodine. There’s a slight mintiness to the vibrant fruit, with good acidity and a bit of crunchy structure. 92/100

Brashley Vineyards Hacienda Sequioa Pinot Noir 2021 Anderson Valley
Grippy, grainy and delicious with sweet strawberry and red cherry fruit with some nice structure. Nice weight and grip with good tannin. This is really good. 93/100


Macphail Ferrington Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007 Anderson Valley
Sweetly fruited with a hint of malt and nice evolution to the sweet cherry and plum fruit. Bold, smooth, mellow and has aged really nicely. 93/100

Macphail Frattey Shams Vineyard Pinot Noir 2007 Anderson Valley
Fruity and expressive with lively strawberry and red cherry fruit, as well as some dried herbs and spice. Lovely fruit here with some liqourice and sake-like character. Mellow and easy. 93/100


Douglas Stewart bought the property 23 years ago, and planted it in 2008, with a close 1 x 1 m spacing. Previously (from 2005-2009) it was Breggo, but then it was sold and became FEL. First two harvests were sparkling, and then began doing half still wines. Michel Salgues was his mentor. His property has roughly double the tannins of others in the valley. No till organic farming from the beginning.

Lichen White Pinot 2021 Anderson Valley
11.4% alcohol. Fresh, layered and nicely textured with pear and citrus and some melony richness. Lovely energy here and some sweetness to the fruit. Very stylish with nice tapering finish. 92/100

Lichen Cuvée Rosé 2015 Anderson Valley
100% Pinot Noir. 2.5% red wine. Juicy and bright with sweet mandarin and cherry fruit as well as some nice acidity. Very expressive with nice juiciness and a tapering finish. 90/100

Lichen Pinot Noir Solera Volume 9 Anderson Valley
Three quarters new vintage, one quarter old, this is 2011-2020. Lovely concentration here with an innate richness and sweetness, showing some spicy depth and sweet strawberry, cherry and plum, with layers of flavour. There’s some richness here, but also good balance. Has a twist of lively acidity on the finish. 94/100

Lichen Moonglow Pinot Noir 2020 Anderson Valley
Nice sweet raspberry and cherry fruit with some spicy detail. Grainy and detailed with some nice acidity and ripe fruits. Generous, broad with nice depth and a spicy flourish on the finish, showing good structure. 92/100

Waits Mast

Shalini Sekhar is the winemaker here, and I tasted with her. Brian Mast and Jennifer Waits, own the label. They live in San Francisco, they fell in love with wine when they were dating, and they found the Anderson Valley and spent lots of time here. When Crushpad opened Jennifer wanted to give this as a gift to Brian and they decided to make a bit of wine. They did this and John Bonne found the wine and put it in a top 100 in 2007. They came to the technical conferences here as consumers to absorb it all. So they committed to opening a winery here. Since 2013 Shalini has been making the wines for them. She started in 2013, studied in classic flute and piccolo before. Then worked for Rosenblum.

Waits Mast Pinot Noir Blanc Filigreen Farm 2021 Anderson Valley
Fresh and direct with good acidity. Juicy and bright with a stony mineral edge. Lots of lemony fruit here. Expressive. 91/100

Waits Mast Pinot Noir Wentzel Vineyard 2017 Anderson Valley
Fresh, supple, sweetly fruited with nice green hints and red cherry fruit. Very pure fruit here with some nice ripe cherries and raspberries, but also a sense of elegance and restraint. Low extraction with nice fruit purity and then a fine spicy flourish on the finish. Very fine. 94/100

Waits Mast Wentzel Vineyard 2019 Anderson Valley
This has lovely direct sweet cherry and plum fruit with good structure. There are some angles here with a bit of grip, and some leanness to the fruit. It’s really expressive with nice precision. 93/100

Waits Mast Pinot Noir Roma’s Vineyard 2019 Anderson Valley
An old Pommard clone on an exposed site. Very fine, lighter style, some dusty red cherry fruit. Has a core of sweet strawberry and raspberry fruit with some silkiness. There’s a sweet core, but there’s a lovely lightness and elegance. I love this. 95/100

Witching Stick

Witching Stick Pinot Noir Fashauer Vineyard 2019 Anderson Valley
Sweetly fruited with good concentration. Some lively acidity here with a core of sweet, spicy fruit. Ripe and bold with some jammy characters and a bit of liqourice and salty detail. Very expressive and slightly old school in a lovely way. 92/100

Witching Stick Pinot Noir Fashauer Vineyard 2018 Anderson Valley
Very lively and exotic with some grip and spice. Feral and natural tasting, but it works with a lovely juicy cherry fruit character and some complexity. Liquorice, meat, pepper and herbs. 90/100

Witching Stick Pinot Noir Wiley Vineyard 2012 Anderson Valley
This is lovely. Fresh red cherries and plums with some cherry and raspberry, showing good development and complexity. Has lovely fruit. A lovely wine with real focus and intensity. Forest floor and cedar box, liqourice and a touch of Fernet Branca mintiness. 94/100


A sparkling wine house owned Roederer, and the pioneer of sparkling in the Anderson Valley. I tasted with Jeffrey Gindra, who has been winemaker here since 2018.

Sharffenberger Brut Zero NV Mendocino County
2016 base, disgorged 2022. This is lovely with some toast and spice, as well as some nuts and honey. It’s fresh and vibrant with some dried herbs and a nice tensile finish. Lovely weight and balance, and the time on lees has softened the acid perception nicely. 91/100

Sharffenberger 2018 Mendocino County
All from the Anderson Valley. Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, 8 g/l dosage. Lively and bright with lovely fruit intensity. Has some richness and grapiness, with juicy cherry and citrus fruit. Nice acidity here with some subtle toasty hints. Lovely richness and flavour intensity here. 91/100


Domaine Anderson Pinot Noir 2017 Anderson Valley
Fruity, lively and spicy with cherries, liqourice and lively orange peel and citrus notes. Juicy and has a sense of deliciousness. 92/100

Handley Chardonnay 2019 Anderson Valley
Nice intensity here with pear, peach and fine spices. Has a good weight on the palate with subtle spicy oak hints in the mix along with some aniseed and a touch of citrus. 93/100

Husch Dry Gewurztraminer 2021 Anderson Valley
Lively with nice weight to the gently spiced table grape, lychee and citrus fruit. Lovely delicate fruit here. Not too heavy. 90/100

Foursight Charles Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014 Anderson Valley
50% whole cluster. 30% new oak. Restrained and well balanced with a fine, grainy quality to the sweet cherry and plum fruit. Has some development with iodine and spice, and a subtle earthy quality. Some dried herbs here too. 93/100

Cobb Riesling Vonaburg Vineyard Riesling 2020 Anderson Valley
This is from Norm Kobler’s vineyard. His mother and father founded and ran the Lazy Creek winery. This is a 3 acre block, organically farmed. This is very fine and mineral in a dry style with tapering lime fruit and a hint of pear. Expressive and mineral with nice tension. 92/100


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