F&W's American Wine Awards: Pinot perfection in Sonoma.


When Gary Farrell sold his first winery back in 2004, he'd had it. He'd been working 60 to 80 hours a week, spending more time on management than winemaking. He was exhausted.

The problem is that Farrell can't seem to shake his love of Pinot Noir. So rather than disappear into retirement, in 2010 he reappeared with a group of remarkable 2007 Pinot Noirs (plus some great Chardonnays) from a new winery, Alysian. Not that anyone was very surprised: Farrell's known for his gift with Pinot, and in the 1980s he was a key player in the Russian River Valley's rise to prominence.


Courtesy of Alysian

The famed Rochioli Vineyard—"It confirmed my opinion that world-class Pinot Noir could be grown in the Russian River Valley," Farrell recalls—produces what may be his top wine, the ethereal, intense 2008 Alysian Rochioli Vineyard River Block Pinot Noir ($65). The basic 2008 Alysian Russian River Selection Pinot Noir ($40) is almost as impressive, a finely wrought red that makes it perfectly clear why Farrell fell in love with the Russian River Valley in the first place.

Sonoma Wine Coverage:

Pinot Noir Pairings