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Josh Raynolds writes for Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar. This is the second time Josh has reviewed our wines and he seems to like our style. Thanks Josh! We always enjoy having you out!

Kathryn andPaul Sloan’s vineyard management company, called Small Vines Viticulture, oversees a number of sites throughout theRussianRiverValleyandSonomaCoast. The Sloan’s began making small quantities of their own pinot noir with the 2006 vintage. They plant their vineyards in a tight 4 by 4 foot spacing or even 4 by 3 fashion after a traditional Burgundy model (as opposed to the more common 8 by 12 foot spacing of many California vineyards) and the vines are cropped for minimal fruit load, which is compensated for by the higher number of vines planted per acre-about double to triple the standard number. This planting regimen requires a serious investment in manpower as most vineyard machinery is designed to work with wider vine spacing.Paul Sloantold me that in the 2008 season, for example, a ton of grapes from vines that they manage cost around $9,000 to farm, which means that anybody willing to make such a substantial investment in their grapes is clearly shooting for the top of the market.

2008 Small Vines Wines Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

($50) Vivid red. Vibrant aromas of raspberry, flowers and Asian spices, with a hint of anise. Sappy red fruit, pepper and spice flavors stain the palate and are lifted by tangy minerality, picking up silky tannins with air. This coats the mouth with flavor but seems weightless. Finishes with resonating notes of minerals and spices and very good clarity.



2008 Small Vines Wines Pinot Noir MK Vineyard Sonoma Coast

($65) Saturated red. Highly expressive scents of raspberry, Asian spices, blood orange and sexy oak. Youthfully tight on entry but gains sweetness and flesh in the mid-palate, offering lively red berry and cherry flavors, a hint of candied rose and late-arriving tannins. Attractively sweet on the finish, leaving behind spice, red fruit and floral notes. (JR)


The team at Small Vines Wines stopped by Littorai the other day to see their new winery and estate vineyard and taste what all the hype is about. And boy were we not disappointed!

Littorai labelLittorai is one of our neighbor wineries in theRussianRiverValley. They have been making wine on theNorthCoast for nearly 20 years. Littorai shares many similarities with Small Vines, feeling that great wines are grown rather than made.  They are pioneers in responsible agriculture, farming biodynamically.

The wines are made in a similar style to Small Vines. They are minimalist winemakers, rarely making yeast, bacteria, acid, or nutrient additions to their wines. Doing so would dilute the true nature of the wines and expression of the land. Littorai’s winemaker, Ted Lemon, has a background in and love ofBurgundy. LikePaul Sloan, Small Vines’ winemaker, he strives to make Burgundian Pinot Noir’s that are both complex and food-friendly.

Littorai’s Assistant Winemaker, Trey Fletcher, was kind enough to walk us around Littorai’s newest vineyard and tour their new winemaking facility. The winery is a sight to be seen. It is immaculate and perfect for premium winemaking. The facility is very innovative, using green technologies such as night air cooling, natural hay-bale walls, and water reclamation through constructed wetlands. We were extremely interested in the setup of the winery, hoping to steal ideas for the eventual construction of Small Vines’ own facility.

We ended with a tasting of Littorai’s releases. The wines were all fabulous and reminiscent of a style of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that we like. Interesting, bright, complex and age-worthy.

Favorite wine of the day: Difficult because all were stellar but the 2007 Cerise Vineyard Pinot Noir was outstanding. The grapes are grown in theAndersenValley. The most old-world in profile. Solid stone fruit with broad and powerful spice and game notes. Elegant and well integrated palate. This wine would go incredibly with crispy pork belly and some earthy wild mushrooms.

Thanks for the wonderful time!