I want to show you one of the amazing vineyards where I source my grapes. Lester Family Vineyards lies on the southern tip of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, tucked in behind the tiny town of Corralitos. I have been able to get incredible fruit (both Pinot Noir and Syrah) from here since 2012.
I visited the vineyard on March 24th, and with the ongoing drought and unseasonably warm spring, it was no surprise to see that the vines were well on their way, with vigorous shoot growth and young leaves sprouting.
Lester is a classic cold-climate location, with sandy, loamy soil. The sandy soils are a result of the region’s origin as a sea bed; geological activity associated with the San Andreas fault pushed up the seabed, forming successive marine terraces (this is how the Santa Cruz Mountains were formed).
The vineyard’s cold climate is due to heavy marine influence – it lies at about 600ft elevation, and is only 2-3 miles from the Pacific, so it gets plenty of fog during the summer. Although the fog can bring challenges in reaching full ripeness in colder years, the marine influence allows for the slow and even grape development that makes cold-climate Pinot so desirable.
Lester is managed by Prudy Foxx. Prudy is legendary in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, and her care and attention really show at this site. The vineyard is nearly dry farmed, being watered at most 2-3 times during the year, and then only for 4-6 hours. This strict watering regime has remained in place throughout the recent drought, a remarkable feat not matched by many other sites. The deep (30+ ft) root systems of the vines (planted in 1998) and the uniformity of the sandy, loamy soils certainly help.
Here, Prudy and I are discussing vineyard conditions in March 2015.
Although not certified organic, this site has never seen herbicides of any kind, and the winter cover crop (barley and bell beans this year) was still visible at my visit.
The quality of this site and Prudy’s careful farming really came out in my Lester vintages…
2013 Lester Pinot Noir (94 pts, Pinot File):
“Moderately light cherry color in the glass. Plenty of lovely whole cluster spice on the nose along with aromas of cherry, rose petal and sandalwood. Delicious middleweight flavors of red cherry, red raspberry, spice and crystallized rose. Bright with good tension and balanced tannins, finishing clean and uplifting.” -Rusty Gaffney
2013 Lester Syrah:
Peppercorn aromas with blackberry and savory notes. The mid palate is rich and full with lots of depth. This is a “pretty”, cool climate Syrah with more elegance than brawn, and really is a great manifestation of this incredible site.
2014 Lester Pinot Noir (93 pts, Prince of Pinot):
“Moderately light cherry red color in the glass. Lovely aromas of red cherry, baking spice, rose petal and sandalwood lead to an elegantly composed and delicious wine offering vivid red cherry and raspberry flavors and an appealing whole cluster spiciness. The dreamy texture adds to the pleasure as does the lip-smacking, cherry fueled finish. A seamless wine that offers loads of Pinot character.” Score: 93 -Prince of Pinot
Find and experience the Waxwing Wines 2014 Lester Family Vineyard Pinot Noir on Cellar Angels between 4/3/17 – 5/1/17 and enjoy special member pricing, a 2015 Pinot upgrade with case purchase PLUS sales proceeds to the charity of your choice! Buy wine online here.