Monday, February 16, 2015



Clos Pepe Vineyard was purchased by Steve and Cathy Pepe in 1994 as a horse ranch, and established the 9th vineyard in what would become the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Specializing in cool-climate, small production, craft-based Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Clos Pepe is now recognized as a leader in local and national wine culture, wine education and providing fruit to some of the best winemakers in California. The Italians say, ‘Il vino e' la Poesia della Terra.’  Wine is the poetry of the earth.  There is nothing that can obfuscate Pinot Noir’s ability to speak of a time and place.  Of every plant on earth, Pinot Noir is unique in its ability to show every angle of a vintage, every silt particle in the soil, and every drop of morning dew that wet its leaves. Tea, coffee, white truffles—these can tell a story and confound us with their deliciousness, but the uncontested Queen of Natural Complexity must be Pinot Noir. We anticipate each vintage with a proper mix of anxiety and hope, knowing Mother Nature and the Sta. Rita Hills have a plan that will allow time and effort to fill a glass.

Great wine is born, not made. The great wines of the world weartheir provenance proudly and show a regional character andquality that is impossible to imitate. The world’s most vauntedbottles all have one thing in common: they are grown on the edge ofwhere ripeness is achieved. Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne,Barolo — these are all areas where getting the fruit ripe is notassured. In most of California ripeness is easy to achieve. The goal becomes‘hang time’, allowing the fruit to hang on the vine as long as possibleto develop flavor, color and character. Clos Pepe, and the Sta. RitaHills AVA, are stuck between these two archetypes: we are one of the coolest areas on earth where winegrapes can be ripened, but wehave tons of California sunshine and a relatively dry Septemberand October for extended hang time and later harvest.

We love the complexity and age-worthiness of the Old World, butclaim our purely New World heritage. Making wines that have thefruit and impact of the New World, with the mineral structure andacidity of the greatest Old World bottles, gives us enviable baseingredients for making some of the most profound cool-climatewine in the world. These wines can be drunk at release when they're young and fruity(0-3 years), as the primary fruit begins to sublimate (4-7 years), orwhen fully mature like the greatest Grand Cru Burgundies (7-20years).  The Santa Rita Hills and Clos Pepe make a wine for everytable, every plate and every palate.

The Santa Rita Hills produce many styles of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay — wines that will excite every palate and match with almost any food. The Chardonnays are naturally lean, mineral-laden and racy, but with more winemaking influence can exhibit richness and roundness: new oak, malolactic treatment, extended barrel aging. When young, the wines have austere structure and bright apple fruit with hints of tropical fruit and peach. Clos Pepe Chardonnay is crafted for both early enjoyment as well as cellaring for a decade or more. As the wines age they gain a hazelnut and mineral complexity, quite similar to Premier Cru Chablis and White Burgundy from great vintages. Try young Clos Pepe Chardonnays with oysters, fried chicken or barbecue. Older vintages can be enjoyed with sand dabs in a lemon cream sauce, firm cheeses, cream-based soups, or any kind of delicate seafood preparation. Clos Pepe Chardonnay seems to like 3-5 years from vintage date to fully integrate, and can last up to 10-12 years for those that appreciate full maturity and a bit of oxidative aromas and flavor.

Pinot Noirs from Clos Pepe can range from delicate and earthy to dense, purple, full-bodied Pinots that are among the darkest and richest on the planet. The Pinot Noirs from Clos Pepe also age wonderfully, but can also be drunk early in their life. Rich, dark vintages like 2002, 2003 and 2010 hold their baby-fat (primary fruit and richness) for 5-7 years and then begin mellowing slowly. Restrained, balanced wines like 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011 age very similarly to Premier or even Grand Cru red Burgundy — being primary and juicy from release to 5-7 years old, and then slowly unfoldingwith minerality and aromas of dried flowers and earthy forest floor for another 5 years. Young Clos Pepe Pinot Noirs match beautifully with strong cheeses, duck confit, pork loin, lean steaks, venison with reduction, or almost anything that you can put on a plate. As the wine matures and loses some baby fat, try more delicate dishes and add Morel or Chanterelle mushrooms. A fully mature Clos Pepe Pinot Noir matches very well with simple presentations of salmon, game (especially quail and pheasant), and other light dishes that will not dominate the wine's delicate complexity.

If all goes well in the Vineyard, the crop from an acre or two of Chardonnay or Pinot Noir is hand picked in the cool of night, and the fruit is delivered to the winery as the sun is rising or the fog becomes visible, like a blanket reminding us of the sleep we've missed. At this point the winemaking process begins.

While it might seem odd to provide our 'recipe' for winemaking, we don't see it as a trade secret. Some wineries thrive on secrecy and an insistence that what happens behind the cellar door is a magical process with French elves and Italian sprites sprinkling fairy dust over the fermenters, but we don't see it that way. Winemaking is a simple process for preserving the integrity of the fruit, the site and the vintage. Again, the magic is in the site, and we'd rather show a refreshing level of transparency in the way we farm and make wine so our customers, and those who visit the website, feel that they can clearly understand and intuit how we treat our fruit and wine, and how simple the fermentation and aging process can be.



Two pygmy goats, Never and Epernay, inspired Norm to name his winery Flying Goat Cellars. The goats were his pets and lawnmowers and came to be a source of entertainment and enjoyment, with their unrestrained spiral loops, flipper turns and straight-legged leaps. When pondering a name for his new wines and brand, Norm wanted to project fun, enjoyment, and happiness. While many people put their own name or their children’s name on their label or vineyard, Norm’s playful spirit opted to name it after his kids. His kids, of course, were those two pygmy goat pets, who had always inspired him and made him laugh. The winery was “launched” with this same spirit of enthusiasm and Flying Goat Cellars was born.

The Vineyards - Cool Climate, California Central Coast Vineyards:
Pinot Noir is all about “place.” When grown with care (and patience!) and treated well at the winery, this grape will express a vineyard and region like no other varietal. We are fortunate to work with very dedicated and passionate vineyard owners and growers who farm Pinot Noir to showcase “place.”

Norm Yost graduated from the University of California, Davis with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies in 1981. When his college roommate graduated from the winemaking program with a job and Norm didn’t have one, he morphed from a beer drinking football player into a winemaking craftsman. During his 30+ vintages in the industry, Norm worked for diverse wineries in cool climate regions, from Oregon’s Willamette Valley to the Russian River in Sonoma County and finally Santa Barbara County. He attributes his vast experience in the industry to the success of Flying Goat Cellars, which he launched in 2000. As the proprietor of his own business, Norm enjoys the freedom to focus on his passion for making vineyard designated Pinot Noir and sparkling wine. Half of Norm’s winemaking career has now been in Santa Barbara County, where he celebrates working with Central Coast fruit. He is currently president of World of Pinot Noir; formerly a board member of Sta. Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance and Santa Barbara County Vintners Association and winemaking instructor at Allan Hancock College.

March 6th & 7th 2015  |  BACARA RESORT & SPA  |  Santa Barbara, California

Our annual event takes place at the beginning of March and includes two days of in-depth Tasting seminars and excursions, Grand Tastings, a Burgundy seminar and tasting and gourmet, locally-influenced lunches and dinners. These extraordinary food and wine extravaganzas will be hosted by participating wineries and feature an outstanding panel of sommeliers from across the U.S.

Our mission is to bring Pinot Noir producers from the most exceptional and unique regions in the world together with Pinot Noir enthusiasts for a weekend of celebration and education on the shores of California's beautiful Central Coast.

Our annual event takes place at the beginning of March and includes two days of in-depth Tasting seminars and excursions, Grand Tastings, a Burgundy seminar and tasting and gourmet, locally-influenced lunches and dinners. These extraordinary food and wine extravaganzas will be hosted by participating wineries and feature an outstanding panel of sommeliers from across the U.S.

The World of Pinot Noir was established in 2001 by a small but dedicated group of winemakers from California’s South Central Coast. We are a non-profit 501 (c) (6) trade organization.


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