Subscribe

Wine of the week: Pennyroyal Farm, 2020 Anderson Valley Pinotrio

Tasting Room: Rare white wines

Pennyroyal Farm, 2020 Anderson Valley Pinotrio, 13,5%, $33, 4.5 STARS. A gorgeous pinotrio, nice and dry, with aromas and flavors of peach, almond and a hint of nectarine. It has great minerality and finishes crisp. Striking.

Bella Grace, 2021 Amador County Vermentino, 13.4%, $29, 4 STARS. A layered vermentino with upfront citrus flavors coupled with a hint of basil and mint. Supple texture. Balanced, with bright acid. Refreshing.

Brashley Vineyards, 2020 Bevel, Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Blanc, 13.6%, $42, 4 STARS. A lovely pinot noir blanc with stone fruit of peach, nectarine and a hint of cherry. Light and lively, with crisp acidity. Pretty.

Husch, 2021 Anderson Valley Dry Gewurztraminer, 13.9%, $18, 4 STARS. A bone dry gewurztraminer with aromas of honeysuckle and rose petal and flavors of apricot, peach and lemon zest. Textured, with a great concentration of fruit. Well crafted.

Smith-Madrone, 2017 Estate Riesling, $34, 4 STARS. A complex riesling that rides on crisp acid. Layered notes of grapefruit, mineral and honeysuckle. Nice length. Impressive.

Sarah Cahn Bennett grew up a stone’s throw from Navarro Vineyards & Winery in Philo.

“I was the kid who would try to get my homework done as quickly as possible after school so I could spend time on the crush pad,” she said.

The daughter of Navarro founders Ted Bennett and Deborah Cahn, the 41-year-old winemaker now splits her time between working at Navarro and her own enterprise, Pennyroyal Farm, 9 miles away in Boonville.

Cahn Bennett is behind The Press Democrat’s wine of the week winner — the Pennyroyal Farm 2020 Anderson Valley Pinotrio at $33. The white varietal is a blend of pinot gris, pinot noir and pinot blanc, and it’s nice and dry. With aromas and flavors of peach, almond and hint of nectarine, the pinotrio has great minerality, and it finishes crisp.

Pennyroyal Farm is both a winery and a creamery, and it’s named after the wild mint that thrives in the vineyards. Goats and sheep roam through the vines and the farm offers a line-up of wines and seasonal cheeses. The farm is designed to maximize the symbiotic relationships of diversified crops and animal husbandry. The synergy of dairy farming and wine growing, Cahn Bennett said, is essential for the long-term health of the farmland.

Dedicated to environmentally conscious farming practices, the farm features solar panels on the barn and has calculated the size of its herd to produce enough manure to fertilize the vineyards.

Developed in stages, the creamery was completed in 2012 while the tasting room opened its doors in 2016.

Cahn Bennett, both winemaker and general manager, said the most challenging part of making pinotrio is calculating the blend of pinot gris, pinot noir and pinot blanc.

“It’s hard to figure out what direction to go,” she said. “I have tended to make the wine with a little more pinot blanc because I think the acidity, freshness and almond-like aromas really pair well with our cheeses.”

Cahn Bennett said she takes pride in Mendocino County’s environmentally progressive farming practices. In her 20s when traveling to France, she realized others were equally impressed with the county’s efforts.

“I remember a world renowned winemaker in Burgundy recognizing Mendocino for its commitment to sustainable farming and non-GMO stance,” she said. “That was an eye opener to see that even some of the world’s most famous winemakers took note of green initiatives, and that Mendocino had a reputation halfway across the world.”

Cahn Bennett, who also serves as general manager of Navarro, said the Philo winery was on the cutting edge with its farming practices.

“My parents stopped using synthetic herbicides back in 1979 and any synthetic insecticides in 1980,” she explained. “The regenerative farming practices they were using in the 80s were way before their time. It’s great to further develop our practices and take them to the next level, to not only make great wines but to do something positive for the planet.”

Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at peg.melnik@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5310.

Peg Melnik

Wine, The Press Democrat

Northern California is cradled in vines; it’s Wine County at its best in America. My job is to help you make the most of this intriguing, agrarian patch of civilization by inviting you to partake in the wine culture – the events, the bottlings and the fun. This is a space to explore wine, what you care about or don’t know about yet.

Tasting Room: Rare white wines

Pennyroyal Farm, 2020 Anderson Valley Pinotrio, 13,5%, $33, 4.5 STARS. A gorgeous pinotrio, nice and dry, with aromas and flavors of peach, almond and a hint of nectarine. It has great minerality and finishes crisp. Striking.

Bella Grace, 2021 Amador County Vermentino, 13.4%, $29, 4 STARS. A layered vermentino with upfront citrus flavors coupled with a hint of basil and mint. Supple texture. Balanced, with bright acid. Refreshing.

Brashley Vineyards, 2020 Bevel, Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Blanc, 13.6%, $42, 4 STARS. A lovely pinot noir blanc with stone fruit of peach, nectarine and a hint of cherry. Light and lively, with crisp acidity. Pretty.

Husch, 2021 Anderson Valley Dry Gewurztraminer, 13.9%, $18, 4 STARS. A bone dry gewurztraminer with aromas of honeysuckle and rose petal and flavors of apricot, peach and lemon zest. Textured, with a great concentration of fruit. Well crafted.

Smith-Madrone, 2017 Estate Riesling, $34, 4 STARS. A complex riesling that rides on crisp acid. Layered notes of grapefruit, mineral and honeysuckle. Nice length. Impressive.

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:

  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.
Send a letter to the editor

Our Network

The Press Democrat
Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Sonoma County Gazette