Winery Profile

Founded in 2009 by husband and wife team Chris and Sarah Pittinger, Gros Ventre Cellars has been over 20 years in the making. After college, Chris spent several years tasting and selling mostly European wines in shops and restaurants as a sommelier, which shaped his palate and lead him towards wine production. Starting in 2003, he began working at several notable wineries including Torbreck, Williams-Selyem, and Marcassin. Chris is also the full-time winemaker for Skinner Vineyards, one of the Sierra Nevada Foothill’s most notable estates. Through his work both at Skinner and Gros Ventre, Chris was named one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s 2013 Winemakers to Watch by Jon Bonné.

In the winery, minimal handling and intervention is the goal. The wine’s evolution includes native fermentation, gentle punch downs, no extended maceration, no lees stirring, no additives outside of minimal sulfur and yeast nutrients, and no fining or filtration. Depending on the vintage, the wine typically ages for 11 months on its lees in a maximum of 25% new French oak (with the exception of the First Born cuvee).

Gros Ventre’s production centers around Pinot Noir grown in cool, coastal sites, all of which are farmed by hands-on growers focused on sustainability. Cerise Vineyard is biodynamic, and the others are non-certified organic or sustainable. They prefer sourcing from coastal sites that have the right combination of sea, wind, fog, sun, and soil. Close proximity to the ocean and fog helps keep temperatures mild, alcohols moderate, and acids in balance, while high elevations (700 – 1,100 feet) allow for optimal exposure to sun and wind during the growing season. Production will remain small at Gros Ventre: 2011 yielded 700 cs, 2012 yielded 950 cs, and production will ultimately top out at 1500 cs annually.


“2013 Winemaker to Watch” – Jon Bonné of the San Francisco Chronicle.



Wines

Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir: Sourced from several vineyards situated within the West Sonoma Coast. Blend of eight different clones ranging from Heritage selections like Calera and Swan, to Dijon clones such as 777, 459 & 115. It spends 10 months on its lees in French oak barrels prior to being blended and bottled. Gentle punchdowns & no extended maceration. No lees stirring. No additives outside of minimal sulfur and yeast nutrients. Aged in 18% new French oak for 10 months. Unfined & unfiltered.

Cerise Vineyard Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley: Biodynamically farmed in the Anderson Valley AVA of Mendocino County. Elevation: 700-1100 feet above sea level. Sourced from two blocks whose soils are comprised of the complex Bearwallow-Wolfey Series. Pommard 5 & Dijon 115. Native yeast fermentation. Gentle punchdowns twice daily & no extended maceration. No lees stirring. No additives outside of minimal sulfur and yeast nutrients. Aged in 20% new French oak for 10 months. Unfined & unfiltered.

Campbell Ranch Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast: Located on the northernmost edge of the true Sonoma Coast at an altitude of 750 feet- only 3 miles from the Mendocino county line and only 5 miles from the ocean. Vineyard is composed of sandstone soils, Dijon clones, with all farming done by Ulises Valdez. Native yeast fermentation. Gentle punchdowns & no extended maceration. No lees stirring. No additives outside of minimal sulfur and yeast nutrients. 22% new French oak. Unfined & unfiltered.

Baranoff Vineyard, Russian River: The Baranoff Vineyard (farmed by Paul Sloan of Small Vines) is a 3-acre parcel overlooking Laguna de Santa Rosa in the heart of Sebastopol. The lagoon acts as a conveyor for the coastal fog which ebbs and flows throughout the growing season, creating moderate temperatures and cooling breezes. The vineyard is planted to seven different clones (Calera, Swan, 113, 115, 459, 667, 777) on high-density 4×4 spacing, which results in twice as many vines per acre. This provides indirect sunlight to the thin-skinned varietal and increases competition amongst the vines, resulting in lower yields per vine and focused fruit. Native yeast fermentation. Gentle punchdowns & no extended maceration. No lees stirring. No additives outside of minimal sulfur and yeast nutrients. 25% new French oak. Unfined & unfiltered.

“First Born” Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast: First Born is Gros Ventre’s flagship cuvee. The name was inspired by the birth of Chris & Sarah’s son John Henry, who was born in the first vintage in 2009. It is a barrel selection that changes every year, made mostly from fruit sourced from a breezy, meticulously farmed vineyard situated at 1,000 feet elevation in the Fort Ross – Seaview AVA. The remaining 25% is pulled from Baranoff Vineyard in Sebastopol and the Campbell Ranch Vineyard in Annapolis. The grapes see a 5-day cold soak, native fermentation, manual punch downs, and minimal intervention throughout the fermentation and aging process. The wine has been raised on its lees in French oak barrels (50% new) for 18 months prior to being bottled unfined and unfiltered.

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