Columnist, Food

Pinot noir from the Sonoma Coast is almost always expensive and hard to find. Most of these wines are sold primarily to restaurants; they are worth searching and splurging for when dining out, as examples of what this California region can accomplish with pinot noir.


★★★Exceptional  ★★Excellent ★Very Good

Prices are approximate. Check to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.

Hirsch Vineyards “San Andreas” Pinot Noir 2009


Sonoma Coast, Sonoma County, Calif., $65

From the “extreme” Sonoma Coast, this San Andreas bottling comes from vines David Hirsch has planted on steep slopes across 72 acres in the Fort Ross-Seaview area. The wine is bold and ripe, yet elegant and mineral, with a long, haunting finish that lingers like a scent on a sea breeze.

Winebow in the District, J.W. Sieg in Virginia and Maryland: Available in the District at Ace Beverage; on the list at Adour, Bourbon Steak, Brasserie Beck, Charlie Palmer Steak, Citronelle, CityZen, Equinox, Proof, Rasika, the Source. Available in Maryland at in Gaithersburg; on the list at Volt in Frederick, Wit & Wisdom in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington, J. Emerson Fine Wines & Cheese in Richmond, Oakton Wine Shop, Out of Site Wines in Vienna, the Vineyard in McLean, Vino Market in Midlothian; on the list at the Ashby Inn in Paris, Brabo and Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, Wild Ginger in Midlothian.

Flowers “Andreen-Gale” Pinot Noir 2007


Sonoma Coast, $65

Spicier and more voluptuous than the Hirsch (a factor of age perhaps), this cuvee from Flowers was made totally from grapes grown in its estate vineyards in what is now the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA. In subsequent vintages, the winery has focused on single-vineyard bottlings.

Republic National: Available in the District at Dean & DeLuca, Paul’s of Chevy Chase.

La Follette “Sangiacomo Vineyard” Pinot Noir 2009


Sonoma Coast, $45

Here’s a beauty from the Sangiacomo Vineyard in the Petaluma Gap area. (The Sangiacomo family is well known in Sonoma County and has a larger vineyard in Carneros.) Other bottlings to look for include Manchester Ridge, which is in Mendocino County but shares characteristics with the extreme Sonoma Coast, and DuNah Vineyard in the Russian River Valley.

Elite: Available in the District at Cork & Fork, Dean & Deluca, MacArthur Beverages; on the list at 1789. Available in Maryland at Crush Winehouse in Annapolis; on the list at Volt in Frederick. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington; on the list at 2941 in Falls Church.

Sojourn Pinot Noir 2009

★★1 / 2

Sonoma Coast, $42

This wine hails primarily from the lower Sonoma Coast, in the Petaluma Gap area. It features darker fruit flavors (blackberry instead of raspberry and cranberry) and more foresty earth than the stony minerality from the northern coastal vineyards.

Bacchus: Available in the District at Dean & DeLuca, Paul’s of Chevy Chase; on the list at Proof. Available in Maryland at Corridor Wine & Spirits in Laurel, Montgomery County Liquor Store in Potomac.