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by Fred McMillin
for September 15, 1997

Anderson Valley Pinots

Prologue: "In the Anderson Valley, the Pinot Noir has failed to produce table wines of distinction."

from "The Wine Atlas of California," J. Halliday

The Rest of the Story: Since James Halliday wrote those words five years ago, the Pinots are picking up. For example, L.A. Times Winemaker of the Year, Gary Farrell, has turned out a 1995 Pinot Noir from the valley that dazzled my panel. It's loaded with rich cherry flavors against a clove-vanilla oak background.

Gary developed his Pinot skills in the cool Russian River Valley. Prof. John Baxevanis has pointed out that the Anderson Valley has a similar Pinot potential. In fact, he feels Anderson Valley Pinot Noir "may become more celebrated in the near future than Sonoma's Russian River." Gary Farrell is making that forecast look mighty good.

1995 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County
Gary Farrell Wines
Location—Russian River Valley, CA
Capacity—6,000 case range
Phone—(707) 433-6616
Price—$30

Postscript: Located in the southwest corner of Mendocino County, the Anderson Valley is named after one of its first settlers, Walter Anderson, who arrived in 1851. The Navarro River runs through the 2-mile-wide, 25-mile-long valley. Ocean fog and breezes keep the temperatures a Pinot-pleasing 10 to 15 degrees lower than farther inland. The annual amount of warming sunshine is about the same as in France's Champagne District, which turns out a pretty fair Pinot of its own (for Champagne).


About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College and is Northern California Editor for American Wine on the Web. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


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