ValleyFogBlog


Latest Press Reviews for 2009 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir by valleyfog

December 15, 2011

Our 2009 vintage has received a warm reception from both consumers and the trade that we have poured for over the last few months. Seeing Pinot Noir fans react positively to our wines at our tasting tables or wine shop owners or sommeliers is always gratifying – we like seeing smiles, wistful far-off-looks and the occasional welling up of tears in the eyes. Add some well-chosen words, and things get really poetic.

So it’s also rewarding to have our wines go through blind tastings by respected members of the wine trade media. Our 2009 Pinot Noir lineup has recently received some favorable reviews, including 90+ point ratings in Wine Enthusiast‘s December 15, 2011 issue. The best part of these reviews is always the descriptors. Wine writers are in the profession for a reason – they are good with words.

Here is a sample of the recent reviews from Wine Enthusiast:

  • 2009 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills: 92 points. “Ripe fruit, in the form of raspberries, cherries and figs, characterizes this luscious Pinot. But it has much more going for it than that. The tannins are rich and complex, the finish is dry and spicy, and the overall impression is of wine with a great pedigree. Drink over the next six years.”
  • 2009 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Amber Ridge Vineyard, Russian River Valley: 90 points.  “Classic coastal California Pinot, dry, silky and complex. So easy to like, gliding across the palate with raspberry, cherry, Canadian bacon and smoky sandalwood flavors that are filled with umami richness. Best over the next four years.”

    Amber Ridge Pinot Noir

  • 2009 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Hayley Vineyard, Anderson Valley: 90 points. “Delivers plenty of rich Pinot flavor from the great Anderson Valley of Mendocino County. Raspberries, cherries, pomegranates, Dr. Pepper cola, spices and sandalwood flood the mouth, wrapped into a silky texture. Nice now, although it could develop bottle complexity over the next 3–4 years.”

Wine Enthusiast also gave our 2009 Deer Meadows Vineyard Pinot Noir 90 points, with the following description: “raspberries, cherries, vanilla, cinnamon spice and sandalwood wash over the palate, just delicious.”

The Deer Meadows also made it on the short list of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir wines reviewed by Jon Bonne in the San Francisco Chronicle in October.  It ranked as one of the 11 best out of over 40 bottles tasted, and received the following review:

This San Francisco label tapped an impressive parcel – the site at 1,600-feet elevation farmed by Richard Savoy that was the source of Littorai’s One Acre bottle. Eucalyptus-driven and piney; it’s chewy and more of a forest-driven wine, with lots of bright citrus to finish.

As we like to say, we love our wines, but we love it when others love our wines, too! And if you want to try all of our wines, we recently released a couple of multi-packs. We have a Fifth Vintage 5-Pack to celebrate the five different Pinots we made in our fifth vintage and we have a Mendocino County 3-Pack for for all of our Mendocino and Anderson Valley Pinots. Both are priced with a package discount, so enjoy!



Fall Release Now Available: 2009 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir by valleyfog

2009 Oppenlander Pinot Noir

At long last the wait is over. It’s always the hardest part of wine making. You get excited about a particular vintage and how the wines will turn out, but the wines need time. Time to evolve, time to settle down, time to open up. And the time is now as we are excited to release our Waits-Mast Family Cellars lineup of 2009 Pinot Noir wines.

2009 was a very favorable growing year, as many wine writers have noted, and there was a lot of great pinot noir available that year. We ended up sourcing fruit from five different vineyards, from as far south as Sta. Rita Hills and as far north as Comptche, CA. Here is the lineup, with links to tasting notes and specs on each one:

2009 La Encantada Pinot Noir

The joy of this lineup is that it is a diverse portfolio of wines, each representing the style and personality of the vineyard and the region. The Sta. Rita Hills pinot screams central coast with its bright acidity, amazing structure and cranberry tartness. The Russian River pinot is fruit-forward with a floral nose and silky finish. And as we get into Anderson Valley with the Hayley and Deer Meadows we pick up the pure cherry fruit and earthy aromas from that cool climate. Wrapping it up in Comptche, the vineyard that is furthest north and closest to the coast, the wine serves up that “oceanic acidity,” a balanced, earthy and strikingly-colored pinot noir.

After reading all that, and if you’ve been following this blog since the 2009 harvest, then you’re probably ready to get some for yourself. Our online store, which we had closed for the summer due to warm weather shipping restrictions and some updating of the store, is now open and the 2009 vintage is now available. Just go to www.waitsmast.com and click on “purchase.”

At the moment, we are only able to ship within the state of California, but we are working on adding some additional states in the coming weeks and months. If you are in one of those other 49 states and wish for us to ship to you, let us know and we’ll do our best to get the proper permits (there are tons of legal restrictions on direct shipping, so no guarantees).

2009 Deer Meadows Pinot Noir

Soon we’ll have some retailers offering our wine through their online site as well, and they often ship to many states in the U.S. Stay tuned to our blog and our website for updates on these retailers. And to read some of the latest reviews, go to our News page on our website for the most recent reviews on Waits-Mast Pinot Noir.

Enjoy the wines and we’ll keep you posted on more updates on this vintage, our 2010s and the 2011 harvest.



Summer Hours at Waits-Mast by valleyfog

Waits-Mast Pinot Noir

Just a quick note that Waits-Mast Family Cellars will be closing up our webstore on June 30 for the summer and will re-open in the early fall.

Because the warmer weather in the summer is not conducive to shipping wine, and because we’ll be doing some work on our webstore in the next couple of months, our online store will be on summer hiatus. That means the current releases below will be available until June 30 and no longer available online after that.

Most are in limited quantity and will sell out soon, so if you have some favorites below, get ‘em while you can at our online shop.

  • 2007 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills: 6 bottles left
  • 2008 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Hein Vineyard, Anderson Valley: 7 bottles left
  • 2008 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills: 58 bottles left
  • 2009 Waits-Mast Blanc de Blancs, Split Rock Vineyard, Sonoma Coast: 36 bottles left

After this brief hiatus, we will re-launch the webstore in the fall with our new 2009 pinot noirs – almost 200 cases of pinot from five different vineyards. Because we are transitioning our license and seller’s permit, we will no longer be able to sell the older vintages listed above. We’ll do a blog post or two about the whole arduous process, but, we’ll save that for another day!

And of course, if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can find our wines at local retailers SF Wine Trading Company, Canyon Market and Draeger’s Markets in Blackhawk and Los Altos.



New Wine Enthusiast Reviews for 2008 Waits-Mast Pinot Noir by valleyfog

December 15, 2010

The latest online ratings for Wine Enthusiast magazine came out today and two of Waits-Mast Pinot Noir wines were favorably reviewed by west coast wine reviewer Steve Heimoff. We had gotten a heads up about the scores awhile back, but the full reviews weren’t published until today. Without further ado, here they are:

Waits-Mast 2008 La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noir (Sta. Rita Hills) – “92 points: Lots of zesty acidity in this wine, which gives it a mouthwatering raciness. It’s bone dry but ultrarich and ripe in cherries, raspberries and oak. There’s a slightly bretty funkiness that adds a mushroomy appeal. Should develop over the next six years.  - S.H. (12/15/2010)”

Waits-Mast 2008 Amber Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley) – “87 points: Soft and fruity, with raspberry, cherry, Dr. Pepper and oak flavors. It has the jammy, marmalade taste of freshly crushed berries, with citrusy acidity. The oak is front and center. Might develop with a few years in the bottle.  - S.H. (12/15/2010)”

To see the reviews on Wine Enthusiast’s website, click here.

We’re very excited about these reviews and Heimoff does a great job of describing the flavors in these wines. They are also in short supply – we have about nine cases of the La Encantada and four cases of the Amber Ridge left in stock, so get ‘em while you can!



2010 Holiday Specials on Waits-Mast Pinot Noir by valleyfog

We’re wrapping up another great vintage at Waits-Mast Family Cellars as you get ready to wrap up your holiday presents during this festive season. To help you out, we have a few holiday specials on our award-winning wines. These specials are available exclusively at our webstore:

Small-lot pinot noir, hand-numbered bottles

2010 Holiday Specials

Savings on Shipping through 12/31/10
To lighten the load on your holiday expenses, we’re offering two different specials on shipping:

50% off ground shipping: Order up to 11 bottles of any wine and get 50% off ground shipping. Just go to the purchase page, choose your wines and enter the code HALF in the coupon code box and hit “apply.”

Free ground shipping: Order a case (12 bottles) or more and get free ground shipping. This is in addition to our standard 10% discount on the price of a case or more. Just enter the code CASE in the coupon code box and hit “apply.”

• Both specials apply to any products in our store including the La Encantada Double-Vintage Pack (see below). The shipping special runs from November 29, 2010 through December 31, 2010.

La Encantada Double-Vintage Pack

Sample both vintages of our La Encantada Vineyard Pinot Noir from the Sta. Rita Hills at a special two-pack price of $89. Sourced from Richard Sanford’s certified organically-grown vineyard in Santa Barbara County, each of these pinot noirs has its own personality, reflective of the vintage and variations in winemaking style. The 2007 is smoky, spicy with lush dark cherry, blackberry and a hint of cola. The 2008 is bright and vibrant, with cranberry, cherry, plum and an ever-so-slightly toasty nose. Both wines are food-friendly wines with lots of complexity and structure. There are only a few bottles of the 2007 left, so this is a very limited offering.

Gift Guide
Not sure which wine to get for your friends, family or co-workers? Check out our gift guide – designed to match each personality in your life.

We are down to a just a few cases each for our current releases, so visit our webstore today to take advantage of these specials while the wines are available.

Happy Holidays from Waits-Mast Family Cellars!



“Tastes Like Fall in a Glass”: Pinot Days Chicago 2010 by Jennifer

Before the Crowds Arrived at Pinot Days Chicago 2010

After a cold summer and fall in San Francisco, it was a treat to fly into Chicago last week during their fall heat wave. The 70 degree temperatures when we arrived were a lovely welcome and were perhaps indicative of what a great weekend we had in store for us.

This was our 3rd time at Pinot Days Chicago and it’s always been one of our favorite events as we have family, friends, and a growing number of customers in the Chicago area. This year we decided to do a few more events than usual, and started things off with a distributor-only tasting on Thursday, Nov. 11th. We’re still not sure if we’re big enough for a distributor yet, but it was great to meet and greet and get some feedback on our wines. Following that event we headed over to the Eno Wine Room at the Fairmont Millennium Park for a special “Meet the Winemakers” tasting. Several wineries were dispersed throughout the lobby bar and folks were invited to stop by to taste the wines and chat with the winemakers. A few of our friends came to the Eno Wine Room tasting, so it was nice to see some familiar faces.

The Crew from the Chicago Food Whores blog

The big event was on Saturday, November 13th, with both the public Pinot Days tasting and trade tasting taking place at Navy Pier. We were floored by the number of people who came out for Pinot Days this year. For the first time ever, we completely poured through all of the sample bottles of wine that we brought. In case you’re curious, we poured our 2008 Waits-Mast Family Cellars Pinot Noir from La Encantada Vineyard in Sta. Rita Hills and our 2008 Waits-Mast Family Cellars Pinot Noir from Amber Ridge Vineyard in Russian River.

We got some great feedback on the wines, but things were so hectic that Jennifer wasn’t able to capture as many great quotes as in 2009 and 2008. Tasters seemed to enjoy both wines, saying that the 2008 La Encantada “tastes like fall in a glass,” with “great acidity” and a lovely aroma. One person said that the La Encantada was in their “top 3″ wines of the entire day at Pinot Days, with others commenting, “this is my favorite so far.” In terms of the 2008 Amber Ridge, people said that it was “velvety,” had a “great aroma,” pointed out that “this could be a staple [wine]” and that it is “very food-friendly” and could pair with an entree right through to dessert.

Probably most gratifying of all, we had several people stop by at the end of the day (when things were starting to get sloppy at Pinot Days!) and said that after being around the entire room our wines were still their favorites.  It was equally satisfying to meet people who had been to our table in past years, several of whom had bought our wines before.

Jennifer, our #1 Fan Luke, and Brian (Photo by Paul Riismandel)

Our “#1 Fan” Luke came by again this year and greeted us by exclaiming, “These are Alchemists!” He’s a charmer and we swear we don’t have him on our payroll, although his pronouncements about our wine would make great ad copy. He also said to us that our winemaking project is “like a cause.” We couldn’t agree more!

After talking all day, Jennifer was also happy to have a taster tell her, “You don’t have to talk, the wine speaks for itself,” especially since she was choking on a chocolate-covered espresso bean at the time. Sweet!

Thanks to Luke and to everyone else for making us feel like rock stars this past weekend. We’re not sure that we’ll be able to quit our day jobs just yet (as one taster predicted), but all of the kind words at Pinot Days Chicago surely made our day.



Pinot Days Chicago 2010: Waits-Mast Events by valleyfog

Nov. 13, 2010

Harvest has come and gone and Pinot Days Chicago 2010 is just around the corner. Waits-Mast Family Cellars will be pouring at Pinot Days Chicago Grand Festival on Saturday, November 13, 2010. The festival starts with a trade tasting from 11 am to 1pm, then the public tasting from 1 pm to 5 pm. Over 60 producers from North America and other pinot noir regions will be pouring that day.

This will be the third year that Waits-Mast Family Cellars will be pouring at Pinot Days Chicago. We love the event because it’s smaller than the SF event and we recognize more and more faces every year we go back. When you’re a new producer and nobody has heard your name – despite how good your wine is – it’s nice when you start to get attendees heading to your table first, or at least within the first hour of the public tasting.

We’ll be pouring two wines, our 2008 Amber Ridge pinot noir and the 2008 La Encantada pinot noir. Each has received a silver medal from the San Francisco International Wine Competition.

The Scene at Waits-Mast

Waits-Mast Family Cellars at Pinot Days Chicago last year

In addition to the Grand Festival, we are also pouring at a couple of other events. On Thursday, November 11, we’ll be pouring at a “Meet the Winemakers” tasting at the ENO Wine Room at the Fairmont Millenium Park in Chicago. Other participating producers including Native9, Fog Crest, C.Donatiello, Three Sticks, Buena Vista Carneros, and Lachini.

The Fairmont will also be carrying our 2008 La Encantada Vineyard pinot noir following the event, so if you are unable to make it, you can find that wine there. This is exciting because it is the first retail account we have in the Chicago area. We’ll also be pouring at a distributor-only tasting at the Whitehall Hotel in downtown Chicago on Thursday afternoon from 2:30pm to 5:00pm.

We’re looking forward to coming weekend and hope to see all of our returning friends and meet new pinot-enthusiasts as well. We’ll also provide our usual recap of the event and all of its colorful observations.



Fall Release: 2008 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir from La Encantada Vineyard by valleyfog
2008 Waits-Mast La Encantada Pinot Noir

The new Fall release from Waits-Mast Family Cellars

The Fall release from Waits-Mast Family Cellars is our second vintage from Richard Sanford’s La Encantada Vineyard in Sta. Rita Hills and the last of our three 2008 pinot noirs to be released. The 2008 La Encantada, bottled in September of 2009, is a well-structured wine. At first, it was tightly wound and needed some time. Now, a year later, it is unfolding and showing its colors and ready for your wine-drinking pleasure.

When we brought the grapes in from harvest they were probably the most perfect clusters we had ever seen. Small, tight clusters with small berries. We knew then and there that this wine was going to be a cut above.

No surprise, as this vineyard is well tended to by Sanford, and is certified organic by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). The hillside placement of this vineyard in the Sta. Rita Hills and the proximity to a mountain gap that exposes it to coastal fog and winds produces a low-vigor environment that delivers a lush cherry, raspberry and dark berry mix.

Okay, so after all that build up, how does it taste? All in all, the best way to describe this wines is “well-rounded.” The aroma speaks of classic central/south coast pinot noir – cranberry, cherry, plum and a touch of forest floor. On the palate, an intense but brooding red and dark berry flavor unfolds, with fine tannins, slight minerality and nice acidity. At this point, all the flavors are starting to integrate quite well, so there’s a lot to ponder in that glass.

With this type of structure and balance, it begs for food. One of our favorite dishes is a skirt steak simply marinated in garlic, soy sauce, maybe a touch of brown sugar and thrown on the grill. We also think that with Thanksgiving not far away, the cranberry and cherry notes in this wine will sing with your favorite holiday meal.

2008 La Encantada Pinot Noir

2008 La Encantada Pinot Noir

Oh, and did we mention that this wine also won a Silver medal in the 2010 San Francisco International Wine Competition?

To avail yourself of such a wonderful wine, you can go online today and purchase it in our webstore. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can find it at Pleasant Hill Wine Merchants and soon, other local retailers and restaurants. We also still have just a couple of cases left of our 2007 La Encantada, so start building your vertical (yes, we have a 2009 La Encantada still in barrel) now.

Technical specifications:

Harvest: October 6, 2008

Clones: 115/667/777

Alcohol content: 14.2% by volume

Fruit: 100% whole berry (no stems)

Fermentation: RC212 yeast

Barrel aging: 12 months in French oak, 33% new (Francois Freres, MT)

Bottled: September, 2009

Production: 25 cases

Drink now through 2017

Price: $47/bottle (750ml)

Release date: September 16, 2010



2009 vintage almost there: August barrel tasting by valleyfog

Trying to keep track of all the wine during barrel sampling

One thing about being in the wine business and dealing with so many vintages is you start to forget what year it is. We’re in the middle of releasing and selling our 2008 vintage of pinot noir, the 2009s are still in barrel, and we’re finalizing our plans for 2010. All exciting stuff for us here at Waits-Mast and each vintage has its own story and requires its own focus.

We’ve written much about our 2009 vintage and its five different vineyards and we are really pumped about this wine. We recently tasted through all five vineyard-designate pinot noirs in barrel and the wines truly represent a broad portfolio of pinot noir. In barrel since October of last year, each one is distinct and supremely tasty in its own right. These are the type of wines that you could easily distinguish one from the other, because they are so site-specific. Here are some brief observations of each wine from this barrel tasting:

Hayley Vineyard, Anderson Valley: this vineyard on the valley floor gets a lot of morning fog and then warmer afternoons that combine to extend flavor development. Bright raspberry and coconut on the nose, bursting with red fruit on the palate with nice acidity and fine tannins on the finish.

La Encantada Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills: our third vintage with this Santa Barbara County vineyard, the La Encantada is delivering once again. The 2009 has a lot of exotic spices, firm tannins, and an intense core of red and black fruit.

Deer Meadows Vineyard, Anderson Valley: Rich Savoy’s upper (1600′) vineyard in Boonville is going to rock your world. A lighter touch than our other pinots, it has wonderful floral aromatics with bright cherry, orange peel and coriander. Intense red cherry and great acidity make the wine dance on the palate.

Oppenlander Vineyard, Mendocino County (Comptche): this one is going to be coming out of its shell a bit later, but the potential that we’re tasting in this this wine is intriguing: dried lavender, purple-tinged color, earthy tones and firm tannins. Patience will serve you well with the Oppenlander.

Amber Ridge Vineyard, Russian River Valley: for those not wanting a wine that is playing hard-to-get, this pinot noir will be lush, flirty and seductive right out of the gate. Lots of cherry and raspberry, smooth tannins with a brightness to counteract the warm spices that this wine serves up. In a word: yum.

Ready to treat yourself to a flight of this amazing pinot noir? We are too, but we need to let these wines brood a little more, do a little blending and then get them in bottle. They’ve all been racked to neutral barrels. We’ll let you know about final bottling and the planned release dates, which will likely be in 2011.

2008 Amber Ridge currently on the shelves at Pleasant Hill Wine Merchant

We still have a handful of cases of our 2008 Hein Vineyard, Anderson Valley and 2008 Amber Ridge Vineyard (equally as flirty) left and will be releasing our 2008 La Encantada in September. All three of these wines are award-winning and continue to evolve beautifully, so treat yourself to one today.



Silver and Gold: 2010 San Francisco International Wine Competition by valleyfog

Waits-Mast Family Cellars was proud to take home silver and gold medals for its first ever entries in the San Francisco International Wine Competition. Yes, when we think of silver and gold we can’t help but think of that Burl Ives song from the Rankin-Bass Christmas classic, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. Perhaps we’ve got a little bit of Christmas in July going on here, but it’s always nice to receive such accolades for our humble wines.

2008 Amber Ridge Pinot Noir

Both our 2008 Amber Ridge Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley and 2008 La Encantada Pinot Noir(due to be released in the early Fall) from Sta. Rita Hills received silver medals in the pinot noir category. The competition was stiff and included wines from Oregon, France, New Zealand and other regions, so we’re honored to be included among some greats. See the entire list here.

The competition also included a label competition to recognize excellence in label design in the industry and our 2008 Amber Ridge label won a gold medal. Our wine label (for all wines, not just the Amber Ridge) went through a revamp in the 2007 vintage, with the intention of creating a more sophisticated, yet down-to-earth look.

The panoramic “band” label is designed to emphasize the foggy grandeur of the landscape photo and to also stand out on the shelf at a wine shop or wine bar. In the end, it is meant to reflect the quality and experience of our cool-climate pinot noirs. Yes, it’s okay to judge a book by its cover as well. Special thanks to designers Alyssa Ure and Hayley Partridge who helped us design the wonderful label and packaging for our wines.

The San Francisco International Wine Competition is in its 30th year now, and includes over 3,800 different wines from over 1,200 wineries across 28 states and 27 countries. 45 wine industry professionals served as judges for the competition, which took place in mid-June.

The Waits-Mast 2008 Amber Ridge is currently available in our webstore. Stay posted to this blog for the release of the 2008 La Encantada.




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