"Now wines are wonders; great wines are magical; and winemakers are mad. Like horse fanciers, they are always trying to improve the breed." - William E. Massee
They have been on a constant path of improvement at Wayfarer Winery and when Jayson Pahlmeyer started out in 1986, he had no winery and no vineyards but was determined to make one of California’s best wines and one that would stand up to the best of those made in Burgundy France and the rest of the world.
I was happy to accept the Pahlmeyer family’s invitation to visit the Wayfarer Vineyard in August of 2013 and it worked out perfectly for me as I was already out on the west coast for the Washington State Wine Auction. It was great to visit the Fort Ross Seaview appellation with one of the state’s best ocean side resorts Tamber Cove. This place was a throwback in time, one of the most unique establishments that I have ever visited and the only place to have a group stay that is coming out to visit the vineyards here on the true Sonoma Coast.
The story of the Wayfarer Vineyards begins with Helen Turley as winemaker for Pahlmeyer in the early day she found this property for Jayson. It was an organic farm one of the most northern vineyard m the Fort Ross Ava. They are in a warm spot in a cold area. David Abreu planted the vineyard in 2002 and they are two ridge lines in from the ocean so to say the least extreme growing conditions. In 2011 the Fort Ross AVA was approved all of which is above 900 foot elevation and is right on the ocean.
The vineyard here is planted with a very tight density 6 x 3 as opposed to 8 x 10. More concentrated fruit is the result. It is 30 acres broken down to 30 blocks of 1 acre each. They are on 3 main ridges they used three different root stocks because of the different flavor profiles because of the temperatures in the vineyards. They have several different clones on the property and these are the first releases from this exciting new label from this extreme growing region.
Wayfarer Wine Tasting
With Special Guest Joe Hunter
Wednesday, February 23rd
2019 WAYFARER CHARDONNAY WAYFARER VINEYARD FORT ROSS SEAVIEW SONOMA
Price: $97.50Your Price: $85.80 Quantity in Stock: 12
A beautiful bouquet with that briny mineral quality with notes of lightly toasted oak spice lemon curd and white flowers with a big creamy texture on the tongue a long layered finish echoing the nuance from the nose lengthening the finish, lots of minerality and chalky mineral notes. Finish 45+ Most Excellent +
2018 WAYFARER PINOT NOIR WAYFARER VINEYARD FORT ROSS SEAVIEW SONOMA
Price: $100.50 Your Price: $88.44 Quantity in Stock: 13
(98+ Points) "The 2018 Pinot Noir Wayfarer Vineyard has a medium ruby color and slowly opening perfume of garrigue, dried orange peel, prosciutto and rose petals with mineral-laced cranberry and red and black berry fruits. The medium-bodied palate, grainy and incredibly fresh, slowly gains in flavor amplitude and nuance in the mouth, ending in a fanfare of spicy detail." Wine Advocate
2014 WAYFARER PINOT NOIR WAYFARER VINEYARD FORT ROSS SEAVIEW SONOMA MAGNUM
Price: $234.00 Your Price: $198.90 Quantity in Stock: 6
(93 points) Medium ruby-purple colored, the 2014 Pinot Noir Wayfarer Vineyard has a gregarious nose of ripe Bing cherries, cranberry sauce and rhubarb pie with hints of mossy bark, lavender and cumin seed. Medium-bodied, the palate has wonderful restraint and a quiet intensity, with chewy tannins and seamless freshness framing the savory flavors, finishing on an appealing dried herb note. Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
2013 WAYFARER PINOT NOIR WAYFARER VINEYARD FORT ROSS SEAVIEW SONOMA
Price: $125.25 Your Price: $110.22 Quantity in Stock: 4
WINERY NOTES: Tasting Notes This rich and harmonious cuvee of 12 Pinot Noir clones beautifully showcases Wayfarer’s vibrant spectrum of single-vineyard, estate-grown fruit. The wine is a dazzling deep ruby color that leads with heady aromas of wild blackcurrant and freshly picked strawberry. It evolves with notes of licorice and toasted oak, finishing with an intriguing lilt of forest floor, leather, rose petal and raspberry. The bright, juicy entry evokes flavors of cranberry and cherry, harmonized with a grip of fine tannins and earthy tones of cedar and tar. The long finish surprises with its fresh minerality and intense aromatics of violet and Tahitian vanilla. Showy now with two hours of decanting at cellar temperature, watch this wine evolve beautifully with cellaring up to 15 years.
Winemaking Notes We hand-picked and hand-sorted the fruit, setting aside 8% for whole-cluster fermentation. The remaining berries were then de-stemmed and hand-sorted again before transfer to tank. Five to seven days of cold maceration preceded more than two weeks of 100% native yeast fermentation. The fruit was then gently pressed, its free-run juice transferred to 40% new French oak barrels for 15 months of aging.
Vintage Notes The 2013 growing season was initially noted for its 40%-below-average rainfall amidst California’s escalating drought. However, the vintage will ultimately be remembered for its intense, concentrated flavors and exceptional quality across every vineyard block. Mild spring temperatures beckoned bud break as normal beginning March 21st on the west-facing slope of Block 20. While a touch of gentle spring rain accelerated canopy growth, strategic shoot positioning and leaf removal afforded ideal air circulation and sun exposure for the beautifully formed clusters. Veraison began on July 26th and our block-by-block harvest began September 4th on the east side of the es
2013 WAYFARER PINOT NOIR GOLDEN MEAN FORT ROSS-SEAVIEW SONOMA
Price: $125.25 Your Price: $110.22 Quantity in Stock: 4
WINERY NOTES: Tasting Notes Golden Mean is a union of contrasts: the earthy aromatics and powerful structure of the Pommard clone married with the elegance and alluring perfume of the Swan clone. This wine is an aromatic journey, beginning with floral notes of magnolia and lavender, leading to vibrant fruit tones of cranberry and mandarin, finishing with warm garden scents of marjoram and fresh anise. The velvet mouthfeel glides through a mid-palate rich with raspberries, rose hips and hints of black pepper and cedar. Ready to savor upon release, this wine will age beautifully for another 10-15 years.
Winemaking Notes We hand-picked and hand-sorted the fruit, reserving 35% for whole-cluster fermentation. The remaining berries were then de-stemmed and hand-sorted again before transfer to tank. Five to seven days of cold maceration preceded more than two weeks of 100% native yeast fermentation. The fruit was then gently pressed, its free-run juice transferred to 54% new French oak barrels for 15 months of aging.
Vintage Notes The 2013 growing season was initially noted for its 40%-below-average rainfall amidst California’s escalating drought. However, the vintage will ultimately be remembered for its intense, concentrated flavors and exceptional quality across every vineyard block. Mild spring temperatures beckoned bud break as normal beginning March 25th with the Swan Clone on the west-facing slope of Block 20. While a touch of gentle spring rain accelerated canopy growth, strategic shoot positioning and leaf removal afforded ideal air circulation and sun exposure for the beautifully formed clusters. Veraison began on July 26th and harvest began September 4th with Block 20 and finished with Block 22 on September 17th.
2013 WAYFARER PINOT NOIR MOTHER ROCK FORT ROSS-SEAVIEW SONOMA
Price: $125.25 Your Price: $110.22 Quantity in Stock: 5
WINERY NOTES: Tasting Notes A cuvée of clones 37 and Dijon 777, this wine is named for Wayfarer’s sandstone substrate that urges our vines to burrow deeply, their fruit echoing the unlocked terrain below. Dense ruby in color, the 2013 vintage is as delicate and spirited as it is focused and powerful. The nose bounds with sexy ripe strawberry and fresh raspberry aromas followed by savory hints of raw leather, walnut burl and flint. Most stunning is the luxurious mouthfeel, plush with soft tannins and buoyant with laser-focused acidity. Flavors of blackberry cordial and fresh red cherry cascade into a long finish lifted by expansive notes of lavender oil and lightly toasted oak. Ready to enjoy upon shipment, it will age beautifully for another 7–10 years.
Winemaking Notes We hand-picked and hand-sorted the fruit, reserving 18% for whole-cluster fermentation. The remaining berries were then de-stemmed and hand-sorted again before transfer to tank. Five to seven days of cold maceration preceded more than two weeks of 100% native yeast fermentation. The fruit was then gently pressed, its free-run juice transferred to 50% new French oak barrels for 15 months of aging. Vintage Notes The 2013 growing season was initially noted for its 40%-below-average rainfall amidst California’s escalating drought. However, the vintage will ultimately be remembered for its intense, concentrated flavors and exceptional quality across each vineyard block. Mild spring temperatures beckoned bud break as normal beginning on March 24th in Block 3 and Block 11. While a touch of gentle spring rain accelerated canopy growth, strategic shoot positioning and leaf removal afforded ideal air circulation and sun exposure for the beautifully formed clusters. Veraison began on July 28th, and we harvested Block 3 on September 10th and Block 11 on September 13th.
2018 WAYFARER THE TRAVELER PINOT NOIR FORT ROSS SEAVIEW
Price: $157.50 Your Price: $138.60 Quantity in Stock: 6
This is made from a single suitcase clone and this wine had a beautiful bouquet of exotic spices violet and rose floral notes an array of raspberry coulis cranberry wild strawberry very complex array of aromas. Wow this wine has a wonderful elegance to it an array of exotic spices and a velvety texture that is framed with a firm hand of acidity. This wine is incredibly rich but has wonderful balance a very long finish. Finish 50%. Killer
Selection of Cheese and Charcuterie
King Salmon tartar with kaffir lime and mint aioli garnished with Harpke farms edible flowers
Sauteed Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Wild Mushrooms over Brioche Toast
Kurobuta Port Loin wrapped Pancetta with Pinot Noir natural sauce and Butter whipped mint mashed potatoes
Cherry tart with melted Epoisses drizzle
The fee for this tasting which includes dinner is $225 + tax, for reservations call 954-523-9463 or e-mail email@example.com. Please let us know when you make your reservations if you have any dietary restrictions.
A bit more about the Pahlmeyer family and the Wayfarer Vineyard:
In 1972, while finishing law school, Jayson Pahlmeyer was at the starting gate of his grapes-to-wine quest. He and John Caldwell, a good friend and fellow wine explorer, had developed a penchant and a deep admiration for the Bordeaux style of grape growing and winemaking. Their shared wine palate and nose led them on investigative trips to the famous French vineyards where they acquired cuttings from the five classic Bordeaux varietals. Back in California with their Bordeaux cuttings, they began their grand experiment.
The Caldwell family owned a 55-acre parcel off the beaten path in the Coombsville area. Despite being out of the accepted loop for what was considered "Wine Country," Jayson and John decided to perform the trans-Atlantic transplanting here that would produce Jayson's dream "California Mouton." The area's wine experts grimaced at their plan. Even at a mere 500-foot elevation, a good portion of the acreage was vertical, presenting massive rock-clearing problems due to the extreme pitch of the land. The boulder-like size and density of the rock pieces were formidable obstacles. Also, there were stout 300-year-old oak trees blocking important sunlight. But Pahlmeyer and Caldwell would not let pessimism rule.
In stepped Jack Caldwell, John's father, helping them refurbish a junked mining rig salvaged from Montana. With additional shovel-help from a crew of eight men, they planted around the long-standing oaks and lava rocks, sacrificing a considerable amount of usable acreage to preserve the natural environment.
Jayson now recounts, "It took us six years to get our first commercial harvest. In 1981, '82 and '83 if you had come out to the vineyard, you would have said it looks like these guys really screwed up. The vines just sat there doing nothing." The immigrant vines were unaccustomed to the soil and the standard three year maturation period extended to six long years. But Jayson and John's patience-some called it delusion-paid off.
A vineyard neighbor, friend, and guru of Napa Valley winemaking, Randy Dunn, was so impressed with the fruit's intensity and complexity that he offered to purchase every bit of the 1986 crop.
Randy's entry into the Pahlmeyer saga was extremely timely because now that the vines were finally ready, Jayson would need the expertise of a bonafide winemaker to bring the experiment to the ultimate test: the tasting.
Helen Turley was offered the reins as winemaker when Randy moved on to concentrate on personal projects. At Pahlmeyer, Helen immediately began her steady rise to world-renown prominence for the vineyard and winemaking magic she performed. A pioneer in the industry, she constantly pushed the envelope in winegrowing and winemaking with cutting-edge and risky techniques. She also became instrumental in opening doors to women in the wine industry, an insular world known for its fierce attachment to tradition.
Helen continually sought out better fruit sources for Pahlmeyer. As the new millennium emerged Pahlmeyer sourced fruit from low-yield sites in Spring Mountain, Wooden Valley, Atlas Peak and Coombsville. In order to push their quality to new levels Jayson knew that he would have to have complete control over what was happening in the vineyards. The only way to do this was to plant estate vineyards, leading to the development of Pahlmeyer's Waters Ranch and Wayfarer Farm.
The Waters were pioneers in Napa Valley, establishing their Ranch in the early 20th Century. Their original home built in 1908 is still standing. Childless, in the 1950's they turned their spread into a camp for Girl Scouts. In 1996, the Waters' ranch came to Jayson's attention. At 1,500 to 2,100 feet above sea level, the property was ideally situated for raising Bordeaux-style grapes. Today, the vineyard supports just over 70 acres of vines planted over the saddleback of the mountain by the vineyard developer extraordinaire David Abreu. Each block of the vineyard is unique, offering the different growing conditions needed for Chardonnay and each of the five Bordeaux varietals that go into the Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Malbec. Jayson, as before, set out to plant this vineyard with land preservation and conservation in mind, donating 57 acres of the property to the Land Trust of Napa Valley. The Pahlmeyer brand was sold to Gallo in 2019 but they still Waters Ranch in Napa Valley.
The story of the Pahlmeyer’s Sonoma Coast property, Wayfarer Farm, begins with David and Dorothy Davis, an archetypical 1970's California couple. They supported their chosen simplistic lifestyle by selling the Farm's small fruit and vegetable crops to local upscale restaurants like Chez Panisse and Zuni. By the late 1990's they were ready to retire to Oklahoma. Helen Turley and her husband John had already established their nearby Marcassin Vineyard, which has become the iconic vineyard of the region. As consultants to Pahlmeyer at that time, they introduced Jayson to the Davis's. Pahlmeyer purchased Wayfarer Farm in 1997 and enlisted David Abreu to develop the property.
The bulk of Abreu's previous work in vineyard design had been exclusive to the Napa Valley. Wayfarer Farm was the first vineyard he developed on the Sonoma Coast. His meticulous eye and penchant for perfectionism produced another state-of-the-art vineyard for Pahlmeyer.
Wayfarer Farm would be the proving ground for one of the first "true" Sonoma Coast wines. The locale boasts an extremely rare combination of climate and geography. The Pacific Ocean's cold water currents mix with the land's warm air to produce a night fog ideal for growing Burgundian varietals. Today, this amazing appellation is the prime viticultural source for Chardonnay and Pinot noir and has been referred to by Jayson as California's Cote d'Or.
With the next generation of Pahlmeyer’s taking over Cleo Pahlmeyer and winemaker Todd Kohn are now focused on one thing- making the best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from this incredible vineyard site on the true Sonoma Coast
Inheriting her father’s vision and verve, Cleo Pahlmeyer is the new generation of Wayfarer.
Raised in Napa, her education took her east where she received a BA in Art History from the University of Virginia, and went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Connoisseurship of Fine and Decorative Art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London.
Returning to the family winery after working in the international art world, Cleo has worked closely with her father since 2008 to learn every aspect of the family business. Cleo began as a sales assistant, answering the phone and entering orders, and went on to manage direct to consumer sales and marketing, then public relations. In 2017, she was appointed President.
When it came time to realize Wayfarer’s estate label, it was obvious who would bring the energy and expertise needed. "The great wines of the world do not come from a blend of various sites; they hail from individual vineyards, specific vineyard blocks," Cleo says. "Wayfarer is no exception, and it has been the opportunity of a lifetime to bring these wines to life."
A mother of three, the vineyard is now beloved by her children too, not to mention her husband, Jamie Watson, who pours his own passion for wine into Wayfarer. “I must be my father’s daughter,” Cleo explains, “because like him, I have naturally gravitated to Pinot Noir. Wayfarer is a very special place for me personally. It has a soul that can only be felt by breathing in its air, walking on its soil, feeling its warmth."
Wayfarer Winemaker Todd Kohn has deep roots in Northern California. He grew up in the town of Redding, just three hours north of Sonoma. Graduating from UC Davis with a degree in Viticulture and Enology, Todd always enjoyed science, and had a strong desire to work with his hands. During his first harvest internship—at the California sparkling wine house, Schramsberg—he fell in love with wine, and the dedicated work of harvest.
Additional internships, focused in the vineyard, lab and cellar, helped develop Todd’s thorough knowledge of winegrowing and winemaking. Experience at several premiere Napa Valley wine producers, including Opus One, soon led to an opportunity in Australia, at Moorooduc Estate. Working in the Mornington Peninsula region of Australia gave Todd invaluable insight into growing and crafting world class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay—great preparation for his role at Wayfarer.
Todd joined Wayfarer in the beginning of 2013 as Assistant to the Winemaker. Over the next 5 years, he worked hand in hand with the Consulting Winemaker to define Wayfarer’s vineyard practices and winemaking techniques, before taking the helm as Winemaker in December of 2017.