Filed under: Vineyards | Tags: anderson valley pinot noir, Dijon clone 115 pinot noir, Greg LaFollette, Larry Londer, Londer Vineyards, Rick Davis, Shirlee Londer, Swan clone pinot noir, Wells Guthrie
When we went to our first Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival almost ten years ago, in addition to other consumer-friendly events, we decided to go to the technical conference. It’s a day for growers and winemakers, full of sessions about microbes, yeasts, phenolics and yet, there’s still a fair amount of tasting Anderson Valley pinot noir. We embraced it like the true geeks we are, and enjoyed it all, even though at the time, we didn’t understand half of it.
We sat next to a very nice gentleman who introduced himself as Larry Londer. We hadn’t heard of him, or his winery. He was very welcoming to us curious neophytes and he became one of the many growers and winemakers from this small community that we have gotten to know over the years.
At the 2003 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Festival we went to a winemaker dinner at the barn at Londer Vineyards featuring wines from Londer, Copain Cellars, and Roessler Cellars. Highlights included the dinner prepared by Wells Guthrie (winemaker at Copain) and the delicious Londer wines (they served a 2001 Gewurztraminer and a 2001 Pinot Noir). We continued to stop by the Londer barn at every subsequent Pinot Noir Festival, and quickly became club members.
This year, almost ten years later, we are now making pinot noir from Londer Vineyards – another event that marks the continued crazy evolution from wine drinkers to winemakers for us here at Waits-Mast Family Cellars.
Larry and his wife Shirlee moved to Anderson Valley in May of 2000, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, after a three-year search for the right plot of land in this wonderful valley. When we first visited the vineyard the weekend of the winemaker dinner, we distinctly remember Larry driving us up the hill to show us the newly planted vines. They planted 15 acres of pinot noir and one acre of Gewurtztraminer. At the time, the vines were not yielding enough fruit and so to get the winery up and running, they were making incredible wines from other Anderson Valley and Russian River fruit with the help of renowned pinotmaker Greg LaFollette.
Years later, their vineyard has matured and their estate pinot noir, with the guiding hand of current winemaker Rick Davis, delivers incredible depth of flavor with intense dark fruit, layers of earth and herbs with a body that is still svelte and belying. Sound inspirational? You bet.
Beyond the quality of the fruit at Londer, it’s gratifying for us to be working more closely with Larry and Shirlee Londer. Ever since our first meeting they’ve been down-to-earth and welcoming and this hospitality has continued as we’ve embarked on our own winemaking adventures. So when we were approached by them this year to make our own pinot noir with Londer fruit for the 2010 vintage, we were thrilled.
Londer Vineyard is located west of Philo, California, on the south-west side of Highway 128. A few miles off the road, the vineyards are set corralled by forests of conifer, and benefit from foggy mornings, warm days, and cool nights. Most of the vineyard is on south facing hills with a combination of well-drained sandy loam covering an underlying clay loam. All of these conditions combine to create a perfect environment for the slow development of flavors and structure that makes for an excellent pinot noir.
In 2010, Waits-Mast Family Cellars is proudly making 100 cases of Londer Vineyards pinot noir, utilizing a blend of Dijon 115 and Swan clones. Stay tuned for our next post about harvest and crush of the Londer fruit.
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