Windward Vineyard is an artisan winery dedicated exclusively to Pinot Noir. Situated in the Templeton Gap in Paso Robles, this unique microclimate closely emulates the French Burgundy terroir with the calcareous soil and 50 degree temperature swings from day to night. Cool ocean breezes are carried up Highway 146 on the westside of Paso Robles Wine Country, bringing cool moisture to the grapes, allowing the Pinot Noir to thrive.
Being a Pinot Noir aficionada, I was thrilled to start my tasting day at Windward Vineyard before venturing into the land of Zinfandel, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, which is widely touted and planted in the Paso Robles AVA.
The Windward Vineyard Pinot Noir wines are handcrafted in pure Burgundian style by “Wine Sheppard” Marc Goldberg, aka the “Beaune Ranger of Templeton Gap”. Wife Maggie D’Ambrosia and son Justin work in the winery and are on hand daily to greet visitors in the tasting room.
Justin, wine host extraordinaire, was kind enough to share the estate history and to give us a tour of the winemaking facility and barrel room. Interestingly, all of the wines are named after the Burgundian French term, “Monopole”, meaning single vision. As Windward Vineyard produces only 1700 cases or less a year, the vintages tend to sell out very quickly.
Probably the most distinct difference between the Burgundian Pinot Noir style vs. the New World Pinot Noir style is that the Burgundian Pinot Noir is more earthy, structured and complex with a lower alcohol content. Windward Vineyard cultivates four Pinot Noir clones on 15 acres which adds depth and layers to the individual vintages.
Windward Vineyard is atypical in that it offers a vertical tasting of four Pinot Noir vintages ~ the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 Monopole Pinot Noir. Each vintage is aged 14 months in french oak barrels and each is characteristically unique. Although it was “tres difficile” to select one vintage, my personal favorite was the 2011 Monopole Pinot Noir.
Statewide, 2011 was an extremely challenging year for California vintners due to the cool summer and drenching rains that prolonged the harvest. Therefore, the delicate Pinot Noir grapes required extra TLC and longer than usual hang time on the vines to ripen fully. The additional effort was certainly worthwhile, however, as the 2011 Monopole displays soft fruit, earthiness with herbal notes and exceptionally smooth tannins ~ absolument parfait!
Visit Windward Vineyard on your next trip to Paso Robles. www.windwardvineyard.com