45 American Pinot Noirs We Love to Open on Special Occasions

From the Russian River Valley to Willamette, these Pinots are ready to party.

Best Splurge-Worthy Pinot Noir

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For centuries, Burgundy has been the benchmark for top Pinot Noir. And while the great vineyards of that storied region remain at or near the top of the wine-quality pyramid, the best Pinots from the United States are every bit as worthy of attention and adulation. The 45 below, all from between 2018 and 2021, represent a selection of the cream of the domestic crop. Whether from well-known and beloved appellations like Oregon’s Willamette Valley or from California stalwarts like Russian River Valley or relatively new AVAs like West Sonoma Coast, these cellar-worthy wines, up to around $175, are vinous superstars in their own right.

2019 Alma Rosa Radian Vineyard Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills

Rich, deep aromatics of carob and coffee beans set the stage for a velvet-textured palate that rolls with black cherries, sweet oak spice, and a wave of crushed blueberries, singed spearmint, and orange oils.

2021 Atelier Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

This is a savory expression of Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, with star anise, wild oregano, and toasty oak combining with root beer spice, tamarind paste, and black cherry liqueur to deliver a wine of power and detail.

2019 Authentique Wine Cellars Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills

This particular bottling is for the Children’s Cancer Therapy Development Institute, but any chance you can get your hands on a bottle of Nicholas Keeler’s wines is an opportunity to jump at. This one is coiled with energy and crunchy with fine-grained tannins and acidity, and finds real harmony between savory notes reminiscent of chanterelles and demi-glace as well as autumn orchard fruit, boysenberries, and rose hips. Also of note: Keeler is doing some fascinating things in the wine-NFT space under the project name Bored Grapes, bringing together virtual experiences with actual liquid counterparts that can be acquired and enjoyed IRL.

2018 Bailey Family Wines Pinot Noir Willamette Valley

Wonderfully Burgundian on the nose, this wine showcases sun-warmed soil, dried porcinis, cranberry raisins, and cinnamon-baked apples before a palate of licorice, cardamom, and sumac that spice wild strawberries and cherries, sandalwood, cigar tobacco, and leather.

2018 Balletto Vineyards Sexton Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir

Savory and brambly, this Pinot Noir shows notes of leather and cigar tobacco that are sweetened up with boysenberry and black raspberry conserve. A sweep of toasted walnut lends greater depth, and a punch of acidity keeps it lively alongside a complicating dusting of nutmeg.

2019 Benovia Winery Martaella Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

The single vineyard that this is grown in is named for the proprietors’ mothers, and it’s a wonderfully fitting homage: It’s a delicious wine in which toasty and sweet spice notes complicate flavors of grilled plums and ripe apricots, oolong tea, kirsch-filled dark chocolates, and espresso. A suggestion of brown-sugar-cured bacon wraps things up on a ripe-savory note.

2020 Cakebread Cellars Apple Barn Vineyard Pinot Noir Anderson Valley

Estate-grown and full of life and vibrancy, this balances brambly berries, rhubarb compote, fresh cherries, grilled stone fruit, and carob with more umami-rich flavors of sun-warmed stones and seashells that lend the vanilla-spiced finish a deliciously savory character. 

2019 Calera Ryan Vineyard Pinot Noir Mt. Harlan

Taut and coiled with energy, this nonetheless also boasts a savory and anchoring core of earthiness. The counterpoints of mixed cherries and red plums alongside wild scrubby herbs and peppercorn spice make for a particularly compelling single-vineyard expression of Pinot Noir.

2021 Cattleya Cuvée Number One Pinot Noir

Hailing from Russian River Valley, this bursts from the glass with red raspberries and plums, Earl Grey tea, wild strawberries, bing cherries, nutmeg, and a subtle dusting of cocoa powder on the graceful finish.

2020 Domaine de la Côte La Côte Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills

This is ethereal on the nose, like Grand Cru Burgundy in its elegance, subtlety, and detail. It’s bursting with energy, lifted from the glass with the perfume of roses and violets and a hint of lavender, and layered with coriander, red cherries and purple plums, pomegranate seeds, rooibos, forest floor, blood oranges, and sarsaparilla. A backbone of crunchy minerality runs through it all, lingering through the long finish that promises decades of evolution.

2019 Donnachadh Estate Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills

Up-front fruit and sizzling, aromatically complex spice dance together in this well-structured, organically farmed Pinot Noir. The sappy tannins carry ripe red and black cherry flavors, as well as a dusting of rose petals and porcini powder, and all of it is cut through with lively acidity that promises a decade of age, if you can wait that long.

2020 DuMOL Wester Reach Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

Coiled and savory, this is anchored by a beef bouillon-like sense of umami, though the brandied cherry flavors are assertive enough to work as a balanced counterpart. It all wraps up with a mineral and black tea finish, joined by a final grace note of lavender and violets.

2018 Dutton-Goldfield Van Der Kamp Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Mountain

Dan Goldfield produces a fantastic range of Pinot Noirs each vintage, and considering them side by side is always a rewarding exercise. This 2018 single-vineyard offering showcases so much of what he does right year after year: It’s ripe and rich yet full of mouthwatering acidity—a vivid bottling that balances black plums, blackberries, and pomegranate seeds with cracked peppercorns and deeply steeped tea. The spice note sweeps back in on the long finish. 

2018 Emeritus Vineyards Pinot Hill Elite Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

Emeritus produces a reliably delicious and terroir-specific lineup of Pinots, some of them exploring the differences from one hillside to another. This one is full of life and particularly unforgettable, concentrated and exceptionally balanced, framed by lengthy spicy-sweet tannins, and bursting with mandarin oranges, lemon-lime, fresh cranberries, Chinese five-spice powder, and carob.

2019 Et Fille Kalita Vineyard Pinot Noir Willamette Valley

Concentration and mouthwatering acidity go hand-in-hand in this structured, cellar-worthy wine that finds a razor’s edge balance between earth-driven savoriness—there is a fascinating note of speck on the finish—and perfectly ripe mountain berries. A subtle framing of scrubby herbs and grilled orange slices are joined by dried flowers and white cardamom.

2019 Evening Land Vineyards Seven Springs Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills, Oregon

Very pure on the nose, almost Burgundian, with aromas of purple berries and tomato vines gently seamed with green peppercorns. These set the stage for an energetic palate, bright with blood oranges and cherries, and anchored by toasted coriander seeds, peppercorns, dried flowers, forest floor, and scorched earth. This reminds me of a beautifully crafted Givry.

2020 FEL Savoy Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

Best Splurge-Worthy Pinot Noir

Courtesy of Fel Savoy Vineyard

Exuberant with rhubarb compote, wild strawberries, and raspberry conserve, this Pinot also shows a zip of peppercorn spice. The finish rolls along with plums, cherries, and carob, all of it balanced, rich, and mineral at the core, with a subtle floral perfume coming through.

2021 Flowers Sea View Ridge Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Best Splurge-Worthy Pinot Noir

Mike Battey

Estate bottled and full of energy, this dances along with cranberries and pomegranate seeds, all underpinned by a core of mineral and hints of oranges, all resolving with a briny, taut finish.

2019 Frank Family Vineyards Carneros Pinot Noir

Best Splurge-Worthy Pinot Noir

Courtesy of Frank Family Vineyards

Generous in style, as fans of Frank Family wines will love, this also finds a lovely sense of balance between cafe mocha and grilled vanilla notes and sappy dark cherries and mashed purple plums. This producer may be better known for their Cabs ands Zinfandels, but the Pinot Noir should not be ignored.

2018 Goldeneye Ten Degrees Pinot Noir Anderson Valley

This absolutely seamless Pinot Noir is unabashedly rich and exuberant with purple plums and Earl Grey tea, both sweetened by cinnamon-dusted caramel, crushed blueberries, and candied rose petals. More woodsy spices come through on the finish, where bergamot, star anise, and raspberry-jam-seamed sachertorte sneak in and lend further generosity.

2019 Joseph Phelps Vineyards Freestone Vineyards Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

Brambly and mountain berries mingle with a lifted herbal character—oregano, thyme, tomato vine—which lends this real freshness on the nose, an almost Burgundian character. On the palate, this is propulsive and detailed, the silky texture carrying flavors of cherries, plums, pencil led, and candied violets, as well as a hint of citrus through the mineral and tea-flecked finish.

2019 Keller Estate La Cruz Vineyard Pinot Noir Petaluma Gap

Tomato vine and wild scrubby herbs lift this lavender-kissed, red-fruited Pinot from the glass, while lemon-lime and cranberry vibrancy find counterpoints in freshly tilled earth. 

2019 Kosta Browne Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

The single-vineyard offerings from Kosta Brown are justifiably clamored for, and this particular one is a fantastic example of why. It’s a precise Pinot in which darker plum and wild berry notes mingle with aniseed, toasted vanilla pod, and tobacco, as well as flashes of bergamot, hoisin sauce, and Chinese five-spice powder. It’s silky in texture, making it great right now, but structured enough to stand the test of another decade-plus with ease.

2021 Kutch Wines McDougall Ranch Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

Best Splurge-Worthy Pinot Noir

Courtesy of Kutch Wines

Jamie Kutch has become a widely respected producer of single-vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and this terrific bottling is a notable example of why. It bursts from the glass with watermelon, cranberries, and dried goji berries, as well as mandarin oranges, espresso with a twist of orange peel, and bing cherries. Sweet, Earl Grey tea-like tannins roll through a long and forest-like finish, and a licorice quality marks the entirety of it. This is one for the cellar, a gorgeous Burgundian Pinot Noir that is also true to its Sonoma origins.

2018 Littorai One Acre Pinot Noir Anderson Valley

Initially tight and coiled, this unfurls with gorgeous notes of hot rocks, tobacco leaf, black cherries, tea, and hints of blood oranges. Suggestions of star anise and bergamot emerge with air in this detailed, layered red.

2019 Lussier Golden Fleece Pinot Noir Anderson Valley

Fabulously aromatic with rose petals and gobs of red cherries, all with a wisp of red licorice. On the palate, this is lithe and energetic, with notes of cinnamon, clove, and sarsaparilla complicating those mouthwatering cherries.

2018 Lucienne Doctor’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands

This Pinot, from Hahn Estate, is a sustainably farmed, ripe, and rich expression of the appellation, with black raspberries, baked plums, and chocolate, all layered with sweet oak spice that will make this particularly friendly alongside roasted meats.

2018 Lynmar Estate Quail Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

Sappy and dripping with kirsch on both the nose and palate, this is a generous Russian River Valley Pinot Noir that will appeal to fans of more opulent fruit (wild strawberry preserves, black raspberries, Amarena cherries, smashed blueberries) as well as savory Pinots that showcase soy sauce, porcini broth, and aniseed, as well as a subtle coating of cocoa powder.

2019 MacRostie The Loch Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

This bottling, essentially MacRostie’s tête-de-cuvée, is a ripe, dense, concentrated yet still energetic evocation of black raspberries, cocoa powder, chocolate-enrobed orange peels, bing cherries, and pomegranate syrup, all of it carried along on a structured, sweetly tannic frame that’s sappy and delicious now and also promises a decade or more of evolution. 

2018 Maggie Hawk Jolie Pinot Noir Anderson Valley

Estate-grown, ripe, and propulsive, this is a wonderfully layered Anderson Valley Pinot, with flavors of goji berries, dried plums, candied blood orange, and star anise. With air, bing cherries and rooibos tea emerge, and are joined by woodsy spices and licorice root.

2018 Marine Layer Lyra Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

The sense of tension in this wine is really appealing, and amplifies the wild red-berry fruit that dominates the palate. Fresh oranges sweep in, and benefit from a judicious dusting of sweet and woodsy oak spice. 

2021 Mathew Bruno Sun Chase Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

This Pinot is produced in a more fruit-forward and powerful style, with waves of kirsch and chocolate ganache joined by satsuma citrus, cafe mocha, and warm vanilla French toast. For fans of richer, more forward Pinot Noirs, this is a surefire hit.

2018 Migration Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley

A riper expression of Pinot Noir, this has enough acidity pulsing beneath the surface to keep it fresh. Melted chocolate and orange flavors are enrobed in caramel and spiced with toasty vanilla and nutmeg. Plums, dried orange peels, and rose petals gain traction with air.

2019 Minus Tide Manchester Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir Mendocino Ridge

Best Splurge-Worthy Pinot Noir

 Lucille Lawrence

Notably translucent and herbaceous in the best possible sense, this is a deliciously Burgundian expression of Pinot Noir, full of cranberry and red mountain-berry flavors that are flecked with fresh herbs, citrus oils, and an underpinning of forest floor that finds a beautifully calibrated counterpoint in a lingering note of rose hips. This is an absolute steal of a wine at under $50, and proves that splurges don’t have to cost a fortune.

2021 Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir West Sonoma Coast

Best Splurge-Worthy Pinot Noir

Courtesy of Paul Hobbs Winery

Still youthful and dominated by its concentrated fruit, this nonetheless shows excellent potential. Give it a few years, and the snappy pomegranate, cranberry, blood orange, black raspberry, and forest floor notes will settle down and turn into a beautifully cohesive whole. Even now, the dusting of allspice and star anise lend it lovely complexity, and the length, integration of tannins, concentration, and bright mineral acidity make it a success.

2020 Ram’s Gate Carneros Pinot Noir

Best Splurge-Worthy Pinot Noir

Courtesy of Ram's Gate

Concentrated and ripe, this is also vibrant with citrus-like acidity and plums. Flavors of beef bouillon and soy sauce mingle with wild strawberries, black cherries, and huckleberries, with a snap of peppercorn spice sweeping in through the sappy finish. The balance of fruit with more savory notes is beautifully calibrated.

2018 Reeve Kiser Vineyard Lower Block Pinot Noir Mendocino County

This is full of cranberries and raspberries, as well as thyme and fresh oregano at the edges. Only 1,140 bottles of this excellent Pinot were produced, but they’re well worth looking for: With deeply steeped herbal tea, turmeric powder, red cherries, and dried goji berries, this shines even more brightly with air.

2018 Résonance Résonance Vineyard Choix du Coeur Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton

Best Splurge-Worthy Pinot Noir

Courtesy of Résonance Vineyard

A standout from the Yamhill-Carlton AVA of the Willamette Valley, this is crafted from five individual barrels of old-vines Pinot. It’s a loamy, earth-driven wine whose meaty bass notes find terrific lift from brambly berries and woodsy spice. There are distinct notes of beef bresaola and cured black olives on the nose, and the flavors of black raspberry conserve and dried rose petals make this a complex, lingering winner.

2018 Sangiacomo Roberts Road Vineyard Pinot Noir Petaluma Gap

Seriously concentrated aromatics of raspberries and cherries are lifted with hints of violets, before a palate of red and black cherries, cocoa-dusted plums, hoisin sauce, beef bouillon, star anise and cloves, and a finish that simmers with Szechuan peppercorn and black tea.

2018 Sea Smoke Southing Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills

Best Splurge-Worthy Pinot Noir

Courtesy of Sea Smoke

Grown in the Sea Smoke Estate Vineyard, this is both savory and ripe, with silky, impressively delineated, and sweet tannins framing mouthwatering flavors of black raspberries, pomegranate, cranberries, orange oils, and wild herbs. Beneath it all thrum fresh-dug chanterelles and forest floor, which are terrific counterpoints to rose hips, wild cherries, compressed watermelon, and red plums. 

2018 SOM LS Vineyard Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills

Formerly known as State of Mind, SOM has produced a joyous Willamette Valley Pinot Noir with this 2018. It practically explodes with purple plums, huckleberries, and crushed blackberries, and sweet spice (clove, cardamom, vanilla), all of it rolling along a silky texture that still finds terrific tannic structure fit for five to 10 years of aging.

2020 The Hilt Estate Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills

Best Splurge-Worthy Pinot Noir

Courtesy of The Hilt

Vintage after vintage, this is deliciously idiosyncratic Pinot Noir, grown in a vineyard whose proximity to the Pacific and exposure to its winds lend the wine a real sense of tension. In 2020, it shines with red-berry fruit and high-toned spice, mouthwatering acidity, and a sappy, flower-flecked finish that lingers with red cherries and raspberries, all anchored by saline minerality. At right around $50, this tastes like much more of a splurge than it actually is.

2019 Vice Versa Platt Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma County

Aromas of stewed cherries, mulberries, and black raspberries are spiced with sarsaparilla and bubble gum before a palate of vibrant acidity and taut, dusty tannic structure, both framing flavors of bing cherries, blood oranges, and candied violets before a long, saline finish.

2019 WillaKenzie Estate La Crête Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton

Best Splurge-Worthy Pinot Noir

Courtesy Jackson Family Wines

LIVE Certified and salmon-safe, this small production (just 94 cases) wine is worth looking for. A fascinating note of pastrami spice (in the best possible sense!) lends meaty complexity to the nose, and seasons a palate generous with plums, cranberry raisins, flamed orange peel, and wild cherries. Notes of Chinese five-spice powder and loamy earth linger through the structured, snappy cherry finish.

2018 Windracer Sealift Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast

Full-throttle and unabashedly ripe, this rings in at 15.1% ABV. And while that is certainly a controversial number for Pinot Noir, the liquid itself works: Kirsch and cassis roll like a wave and carry cafe mocha, cinnamon stick, toasty vanilla, sarsaparilla, and wild-strawberry compote through the structured finish.

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