Our friend, Ross Cobb’s Pinot Noir wines are featured on the front page this month in the Wine Advocate in a ten vintage retrospective (2008-2017). I have some of the 2016s in stock to sell. I’ve included a copy of the report here in case you would like to read it in full:
Ross made wine at Williams-Selyem between 1998-2000, and went on to make wine for the famous Flowers and Hirsch estates for many years. Today, he continues to make wine for Reeve, Anaba and Claypool Cellars, in addition to his own, independent family label: Cobb Wines. Since childhood, Ross has been raised with utmost respect for the earth, and organic and regenerative farming are his way of life. Ross went to UC Santa Cruz for undergrad and focused his studies on the living soil, so he could be of use to his family’s grape growing project. While mom and dad made a little wine for home use (apparently, a few old magnums of it are still kicking around the cellar), they kept day jobs running a local wine industry technical magazine, and focused on their passion of growing grapes. It was Ross who developed the family winemaking business in order to preserve his family home, and make his parent’s passion sustainable.
As early as 1974 Ross’s dad, David, was writing research papers on the best places to plant Pinot Noir vineyards in California. David spent Saturdays and Sundays during Ross’s childhood driving up and down the coast of California, with his wife Diane, looking for sites to plant Pinot Noir. David was a marine ecologist by trade, and Diane a fine artist. They initially connected over their love of surfing, and spent their entire lives together avidly gardening. That garden was finally planted as a vineyard in 1989, the naturally farmed Coastlands vineyard (it hasn’t been tilled or irrigated in 30 years), from which Williams Selyem has bottled Pinot Noir since 1992. 9 acres of that 14 acre vineyard now go into the Cobb’s family wine named, for Ross’s late mother, and 5 acres worth of fruit are still purchased and bottled by Williams Selyem with the Coastlands vyd designation. Ross also bottles wines he makes from a few other perfectly farmed Sonoma Coast vineyards, eschewing any vineyard blending or appellation bottling in favor of pure site expression.
The 3-acre Emmaline Ann Vineyard is a tiny gem. With a southwest exposure at an elevation of 800 feet Emmaline Ann Vineyard is located in one of the Sonoma Coast’s coldest microclimates and gets the most shade and fog of any of the vineyards Cobb works with. At the same time, that cool coastal sunshine that shapes the far Sonoma Coast yields a vibrant wine with pure, lovely layers of fruit.
The 6-acre Rice-Spivak Vineyard is located near Sebastopol in western Sonoma County, north of San Francisco. The soil is Goldridge sandy loam laced with volcanic ash on a gentle north-east facing slope. Cobb’s most inland vineyard source, at just six miles from the ocean, is still very much influenced by the marine climate. Made from a combination of Swan and Dijon Noir plantings grown in unique volcanic soils. Cobb has been working with this exceptional vineyard since 2003, and has made a single-vineyard wine from its coveted fruit since 2006.
This 2-acre Jack Hill vineyard overlooks the Freestone Valley near Occidental, north of San Francisco in far western Sonoma County. The soils are the sandy loams typical of the ridgetops of this portion of western Sonoma County. Jack Hill is planted to three clones of pinot noir grown on a west-facing slope. Surrounded by dense oak forest and Douglas fir, this steep vineyard produces a graceful and complex expression of coastal Sonoma County pinot noir.
When Coastlands was first being planted in 1989, very few varieties of pinot noir were available commercially, and fewer still tested under conditions on the edge of the continent. Working with the University of California at Davis, Diane Cobb established a University licensed nursery block at Coastlands that contained over 20 relatively unknown pinot noir varieties. In 1996, Diane doubled the size of the nursery block. For the new plantings she selected a single pinot noir variety she thought was both especially flavorful and well suited for the coastal climate. The Coastlands Vineyard: Diane Cobb Pinot Noir comes exclusively from this block and commemorates Diane’s life at Coastlands from its founding in 1989 until her death in 2006. It is an expression of the love of her family, and of the 1.5 acres of vines she hand-tended, which now yield a lovely, complex and distinctive wine.