russian river pinot

18 California Wines for Pinot Noir Day

August 18 marks Pinot Noir Day in the United States. In its honor, here are 18 amazing pinots from across California, among the premier growers of the versatile grape worldwide.

Bel Vino Pinot Noir Gold Collection

This California Pinot Noir is on the lighter side of medium-bodied with a bright fruit kick on the nose and to the taste. Expect the red’s signature cherry notes here, but there is also a delightful burst of blackberry and just a hint of juicy strawberry to the sip as well. $24.95

B.R. Cohn Silver Label Pinot Noir

This Pinot will surprise most who sip it. There is anise and vanilla on the nose. But once tasting, the flavor profile completely changes to Bing cherries and tart currants, and then nutmeg and baking spices. The finish has a touch of chocolate, to boot! $25

2020 DAOU Santa Barbara Pinot Noir

The dark chocolate aroma that emanates from this bottle is but a promise of the treats inside. Once poured, there is a symphony of floral and baking spice notes followed by dark fruit. Red cherry, boysenberry and raspberries join the party on the palate, followed by earthier notes and then a final bit of dark chocolate rounds out each sip. $28

2019 Chalk Hill Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast

This is a fruit-forward, approachable and elegant California Pinot Noir that can be enjoyed with grilled salmon or wild mushroom risotto. Aromas of red apple and ripe pear meld with hints of honeysuckle and orange-peel and a bit of toasty marshmallow. A bright entry gives way to a creamy, rich texture with extended notes of caramel and Macintosh apple, and a long, clean, juicy finish. $29

Baileyana Firepeak Pinot Noir, Edna Valley 2018

The Edna Valley is the coolest growing region in all of California, but the Firepeak vineyard blocks are defined by extinct volcanoes found in the area, creating unique soils. This wine is much like the volcanos that came before it, in that it erupts, albeit with ripe cherry, blackberry, cinnamon and tobacco. $30


Adelaida 2019 Pinot Noir HMR Estate Vineyard

Black truffle notes in a Pinor Noir? Yes, that is really among the ingredients one will taste with this old vine varietal. A structured sipper, the truffle pairs perfectly with the notes of black cherry, raspberry and Asian spice that come to the forefront to the taste. It feels both Old World and New World all at once. $60

Domaine Chandon 2019 Pinot Noir, Carneros

Chandon is know the world over for its bevvy of sparkling wines. But do not sleep on its still selections, especially this Pinot Noir. It is silky smooth with notes of plum and cocoa that dance across the lips before allowing black pepper in as a third and very welcome partner. $40

Cakebread 2019 Two Creeks Pinot Noir

Big black cherry is the star of the show here. However, there are supporting players in strawberry and ultra-ripe raspberry that steal their own moments on the nose and to the taste. And while certainly a menagerie of fruit flavors, they come in layers, making it complex and balanced versus what might sound like super sweet. $45

2019 Pinot Noir, Ram’s Gate Estate

Spectacular as it relates to every single sense, this exquisite expression opens with a nose of blood orange and chocolate. The combination gives a very regal impression. To the taste, the citrus and chocolate give way to a bit of red fruit, but truly the more earthy, oaky and spicy notes are the true stars. $85

2018 Folktale Winery Whole Cluster Pinot Noir

This 94-point Wine Enthusiast-rated pinot is made in an Old World style, fermenting while remaining on the cluster. The result is a juicy pinot with hints of cherry but interesting notes of forest floor and even fresh hibiscus at play. $85

Silver Trident

Silver Trident 2017 Benevolent Dictator Pinot Noir

One sip of this velvet vino makes the name make perfect sense. The combination of black cherry, cola, allspice and vanilla will have one’s palate gladly surrendering to the power. Then the balance of flavors thanks to the secondary notes of chai, berry preserves and freshly baked brioche will have those who surrendered to another sip ever so glad they did. $60

JCB No 7

While it is called No 7, the better name might be 007. As in Bond. James Bond. That is because the California Pinot Noir sourced from the best grapes across the coveted Olivet Bench, Sebastopol Hills, Petaluma Gap and Carneros regions is dark, mysterious and oh-so-smooth. It gives more plum than cherry, with a touch of clove and other warming spices. There is also a surprising cranberry zing. $70

J Vineyards 2016 Foggy Bend Vineyard Pinot Noir

It may surprise some, but the popular and lauded sparkling winemaker also boasts a line of award-winning Pinot Noir. Among the best is this offering, which marries dark cherry, pomegranate and tart blueberry with a hint of nutmeg, touch of pine and the perfect level of acidity. $70

Fort Ross 2019 Sea Slopes Pinot Noir

Sea Slopes Pinot Noir is inspired by the majestic Sonoma Coast where the cool maritime climate produces fruit of exceptional quality and elegance. After opening with a burst of berry and spice, the bolder flavors give way to a dizzyingly delightful quartet of wildflowers, forest, cranberry and pomegranate. $35


Lynmar 2018 Adam’s Vineyard Pinot Noir

Lush and smooth, this 94-point Pinot opens with raspberry on the nose quickly followed juicy plum, baking spice and even a touch of what smells like hot chocolate powder. On the tips, get ready for big, bold cherries followed by a perfectly balanced bit of spice. $71

Three Sticks 2020 Gap’s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir

Dark berries and blueberries dominate the nose, in the best way possible. To the taste, the flavors are a perfect representation of the famed region in which the vines are planted with blueberry and blackberry jam as well as black tea and a creamy butterscotch or caramel finish. $75

Russian River Vineyards Balistreri Pinot Noir (pictured at top of page)

This new release and 2017 vintage is so utterly complex that it will not be in stock long. It starts with that ripe dark fruit balanced by a touch of herbs. There is absolutely spice in every sip but tempered perfectly by big dark cherries and blackberries as well as a hint of tea. $80

Domaine Carneros 2019 Famous Gate Pinot Noir

The lauded winery’s first-ever California Pinot Noir – also called Famous Gate – was released in 1992. Thirty years later, Domaine Carneros continues to build on the richness of the region’s soils and grapes with this elegant expression.  It bursts with notes cherry pie and cedar before tickling the taste buds with tart berry and currant notes. Expect a touch of spice, too. $95

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