I first met Steve MacRostie at a wine tasting in Sonoma about 15 years ago. Though he wouldn’t remember me, I surely remember his Pinot Noirs – elegant, balanced, and age-worthy examples of cold climate pinot from the Sonoma Coast.
Now, thanks to the Coronavirus, our paths have crossed again. This time not to taste, but to buy coveted fruit from his Wildcat Mountain Vineyard. Wildcat Mountain, located high in the hills on the western edge of Sonoma Valley in the Petaluma Gap, pushes the envelop with its extremes in cold climate and thin soils. The 35 acres of pinot display these challenging conditions in the flavors and textures of the wines they produce.
We are excited for this opportunity to harvest Sonoma Coast pinot. Our winemaker, Dave Hendrickson, has good experience with Sonoma Coast pinot having worked with Peay Winery during his graduate school days at Davis. He is excited at this chance to get back in the game.
But, Wildcat Mountain is a new experience for us as a winery. We have spent the past dozen years specializing in making wine with Livermore Valley fruit. Wildcat Mountain is a departure from this specialization – and it won’t be our last this year (more about that later). How does this fit with our philosophy?
Our philosophy hasn’t changed. It remains provenance, purity, and sense of place. And, yes, we still believe in Livermore Valley and its potential to produce great wine. But we must consider the realities of Covid. A great many local wineries like ours rely on sales through tasting rooms, events, and restaurants. Tasting rooms remain closed, events are cancelled, and reorders from restaurants are few. The new reality is that we all have to look online for sales and online is where Livermore is a tough sell – a tough sell because outside the valley you won’t find many buyers who have heard of Livermore wines.
We are hoping that a terroir-driven pinot from a sought after vineyard will help us to improve awareness of the Occasio brand outside of the Tri-Valley area. That’s the best case scenario. Worst case? We’ll have a wonderful pinot noir that delight our members. We think this is a risk worth taking.