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Karah Pinot Noir Estate 2012

Karah Pinot Noir Estate 2012

A few wine club members have received this Karah Pinot Noir Estate 2012

If you ask any wine drinker about the best spots in Sonoma for cold climate Pinot Noir, many would tell you that being inside of, or next to the Petaluma Gap is the correct answer.

For much of that conversation, we owe a debt of gratitude to Karah because it was the first vineyard planted in the Petaluma Gap.

So the winery is technically in Cotati.  At first, when I heard that, I scoffed.  There aren’t any wineries in Cotati.  There’s little more than track homes and a master planned community, which I feel like I can recognize….after all I grew up in San Diego County, which I am pretty sure is where they send planners to see how to design the suburbs.

Then you show up at Karah and you ride up a small hill, look back over the 101 freeway and see….well, almost see the ocean, you feel a cool breeze and I thought, ok, I get it.

So when you hear incessantly about cool climate vineyard locations, people often think that means a lighter style of wine.  After all, less sun, less sugar.  Less sugar, less dense wine right?

In actuality, what ends up occurring is that grapevines end up seemingly soak up every spare  bit of sun.  You end up with something more dense, darker and more brooding than you do in the warmest regions, think the inland valleys of San Joaquin where the cheapest wine around is made.

That’s why the Pinot Noir in your glass is pretty darn dark.

Ok, so another point that I thought was interesting. I end up walking into about 15-20 wineries a month for a tasting, always with an appointment.  Many in Napa Valley as well as Sonoma, talk about how much they miss the old days.  Wine, perhaps much like wider society wishes for a simpler time.  Hell, buying a property on Howell Mountain isn’t that expensive, unless grapes were planted there in the 1800’s.

One thing that they don’t want to go back to…..free tastings.  At Karah, it’s still free.  If you watch Bottle Shock, which I think is a great movie btw, you’ll see free wine tastings.  It definitely feels like something from a bygone era.

Another aspect that I don’t know if I’ve given enough ink here.  We so typically think of Sonoma being only Pinot Noir, but it’s not.  It’s simply not. But, it’s still the tail that wags the dog so to speak.  Have a look at the plantings in Sonoma:

Karah Pinot Noir Estate 2012

So what do you think of Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa or Sonoma?

Of course, it’s Napa.

What about Zinfandel?

The Sierra Foothills, with the 4 oldest Zinfandel vineyards in existence, or Sonoma?

Does anyone care about Merlot any longer?

Will anyone buy Syrah?

I hope you see my point, as far as marketing dollars go, if you were in charge of Sonoma County’s marketing dollars, where would you spend it?

I bring that all up, because Sonoma perhaps more so than any other region, has to choose how to market itself. Pinot is going to take up the most space, largely because of bottles like this one, which I think stands up well to anything you’d get in this price point (sub $40) anywhere in the world…..but that still doesn’t make sales easy especially when you choose a spot for your winery that might be more commensurate with great grapes rather than an easy place to bring in hordes of visitors.

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