Sunday, May 3, 2009


Corralitos is a village on the west side of the Santa Cruz Mountains at the southern end of the appellation. The valley landscape creates a microclimate that's ideal for Pinot Noir, and is home to four wineries and several more vineyards.

The four wineries: Windy Oaks (see previous entry), Pleasant Valley Vineyards, Alfaro Family and Nicholson Vineyards are close to each other and have got together to promote the area via the Corralitos Wine Trail. They hold periodic promotional events; the next one is on Saturday May 9th, with the opportunity to try barrel samples and local artisanal foods.

As well as the four residents, several other wineries use fruit sourced in the area. One of the main vineyards is the Lester Family Vineyard (previously known as Deer Park) which is managed by VASCM president Prudy Foxx. Fruit is used by Martin Alfaro, Picchetti, La Rochelle and Pelican Ranch, among others. Most of the Deer Park wines I've tasted have been young and showed a great deal of structure and aging potential, though I've yet to try one with any significant bottle age.

Loma Prieta and Soquel vineyards each make Saveria Vineyard Pinot Noirs; both won Gold medals in the recent Chronicle tasting.

One Corralitos vineyard has gone by several names. Currently owned by the Woodruff family, it was the source for Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard's "Matteson" and "Ciardella" Pinots, as well as Hallcrest's "Terra Belle". It's also been used by Salamandre and Stefania.

Storrs own a 50 acre estate in the area. It was planted in 2007, so has yet to produce its first vintage.

Several other small family vineyards exist in the area; the fruit generally makes it into appellation designated blends from larger wineries such as Clos LaChance or Sarah's vineyard.

Overall the area is producing some excellent, distinctive wines. The Corralitos Wine Trail event is a good opportunity to sample some of them, but if you can't make it then the wineries are open for tasting most weekends and also participate in the SCMWA passport program. Check them out.