Founded in 2009 by husband and wife team Chris and Sarah Pittinger, Gros Ventre Cellars has been over 20 years in the making. After college, Chris spent several years tasting and selling mostly European wines in shops and restaurants as a sommelier, which shaped his palate and led him towards wine production. Starting in 2003, he began working at several notable wineries including Torbreck, Williams-Selyem, and Marcassin. Chris is also the full-time winemaker for Skinner Vineyards, one of the Sierra Nevada Foothill’s most notable estates. Through his work both at Skinner and Gros Ventre, Chris was named one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s 2013 Winemakers to Watch by Jon Bonné. In the winery, minimal handling and intervention is the goal. The wine’s evolution includes native fermentation, gentle punch downs, no extended maceration, no lees stirring, no additives outside of minimal sulfur and yeast nutrients, and no fining or filtration. Depending on the vintage, the wine typically ages for 11 months on its lees in a maximum of 25% new French oak (with the exception of the First Born cuvée). Gros Ventre’s production centers around Pinot Noir grown in cool, coastal sites, all of which are farmed by hands-on growers focused on sustainability. Cerise Vineyard is biodynamic, and the others are non-certified organic or sustainable. They prefer sourcing from coastal sites that have the right combination of sea, wind, fog, sun, and soil. Close proximity to the ocean and fog helps keep temperatures mild, alcohols moderate, and acids in balance, while high elevations (700 – 1,100 feet) allow for optimal exposure to sun and wind during the growing season.
Practicing Organic. 100% Chenin Blanc. Sourced from the Wilson Vineyard, located in the tiny AVA of Merritt Island (part of Clarksburg). The vineyard of 28 acres was planted in 1997 and sits on sandy loam soils at a staggering altitude of 5 feet above sea level. Native yeast in stainless tank to start. Cold ferment in the 55-60 degree range for 21 days. After brix is under 5 degrees, transfer to neutral oak and stainless barrels. 6 months in 75 gallon Stainless Steel barrel and neutral French oak. Wine finishes ML in barrel in most cases. Wine is racked, blended, and bottled after 6 months.
This iconic vineyard is situated on a plateau just a few miles from the ocean and only 3 miles from the Mendocino county line. The vineyard is composed of sandstone soils, Dijon clones, and the farming is done by Ulises Valdez. Native yeast fermentation. Gentle punch downs & no extended maceration. Aged in 20% new French oak for 17 months. Unfined & unfiltered.
The Baranoff Vineyard (farmed by Paul Sloan of Small Vines) is a 3-acre parcel overlooking Laguna de Santa Rosa in the heart of Sebastopol. The lagoon acts as a conveyor for the coastal fog which ebbs and flows throughout the growing season, creating moderate temperatures and cooling breezes. The vineyard is planted to seven different clones on high-density 4x3 spacing, resulting in twice as many vines per acre than average. Native yeast fermentation. Gentle punch downs & no extended maceration. Aged in 20% new French oak for 18 months. Unfined & unfiltered.
This biodynamically farmed vineyard sits high atop the Anderson Valley floor in shallow and rocky soils where it receives the full brunt of fog, wind, and sun throughout the day. Sourced from two blocks whose soils are comprised of the complex Bearwallow-Wolfey Series. Native yeast fermentation. Gentle punchdowns twice daily & no extended maceration. No lees stirring. Minimal SO2 added before bottling. Aged in most neutral French oak (84% used/16% new) for 17 months. Unfined & unfiltered.
First Born is Gros Ventre’s flagship cuvée - a barrel selection of the best lots in a given vintage. The name was inspired by the birth of Chris & Sarah’s son John Henry, who was born in their first vintage of 2009. It is typically the boldest, most fruit-laden wine, but also shows some of the brightest acidity. First Born is approachable out of the gate with aromas of dark red & blue fruits coupled with subtle notes of 5-spice, tamarind, orange peel, and vanilla bean. The front of the palate has a supple texture that is bracketed by mild fruit tannins and mouth-watering acidity on the finish. Aged for 18 months in French oak (50% new). Unfined & unfiltered.