Three Decades in the New World – Wine & Spirits Magazine

Three Decades in the New World


​Thirty years ago, when we launched our Restaurant Poll, David Hirsch was farming a few acres of riesling and pinot noir at his ranch in Fort Ross, two miles from the Pacific on the far Sonoma coast. Walt and June Flowers had just moved in nearby, with their purchase of Camp Meeting Ridge. The couple had taken up viticulture as a retirement project after running a nursery on the East Coast, and they, too, planted pinot noir. Farther south, in Occidental, David and Diane Cobb had planted their Coastlands Vineyard that same year. Today, these three estates offer wines from some of this young region’s oldest pinot noir vines, presenting an opportunity Luke Sykora, a former W&S editor, couldn’t pass up. For this 30th-anniversary issue, he proposed a story exploring how Sonoma’s far-coast pinot noirs develop with age.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Central Otago was known for gold mining more than wine when Rolfe and Lois Mills announced their first commercial release of pinot noir in 1989. That wine was the result of more than a decade of experimentation at their vineyard in Wanaka, and the first Vitis vinifera planting in Central Otago. That region, close to the Antarctic and in the direct line of the Roaring Forties winds, has since earned international acclaim for its pinot noir, and attracted Dr. Jamie Goode, an English journalist, to spend increasing amounts of time on the ground. He reports on the highest state of play in Central Otago, covering four leading estates—Rippon, Felton Road, Prophet’s Rock and Burn Cottage.

Pinot noir is also one of the main themes of our Restaurant Poll—particularly those from the West Coast. So, Patrick J. Comiskey and I gathered up the results of the last 12 months of tastings to deliver 24 pages of recommendations in our Year’s Best Pinot Noirs tasting report.

Grab a glass of any of them and dive into our latest issue, our first designed by Nick Mrozowski, who has served as creative director of WWD and Adweek, among other notable projects. We’re excited to bring you an issue as beautiful as the wines featured in its pages.


This story appears in the print issue of April 2019.
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