Friday, November 7, 2014

11/07 BRANDON SPARKS-GILLIS, DRAGONETTE CELLARS, ROSS COBB, COBB WINES

BRANDON SPARKS-GILLIS – PARTNER, DRAGONETTE CELLARS

OUR MISSION
Inspired by the great wines of the world, and following in the footsteps of our mentors, we formed Dragonette Cellars a decade ago. We are committed to getting our hands dirty; personally executing each step in the winegrowing and winemaking process, from vineyard management decisions, to harvest (often in multiple passes through the blocks), to fermentation, and finally to blending and bottling. We know that only through our constant and meticulous attention to detail, underpinned by experience and overriding passion, can our wines reach their full potential. Dragonette Cellars is located on the Los Olivos Promenade.

Principal Varietals: Grenache, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Thursday 11/20 6-9pm Winemaker Dinner at Meritage, Encinitas
MERITAGE WINE MARKET, ENCINITAS, CA
Join us at the newly remodeled Meritage Wine Market for an intimate winemaker dinner. SOLD OUT!

Friday 11/21 4 - 8 pm Winemaker Pouring
THE WINE CRUSH, LONG BEACH, CA
The Wine Crush was one of the first merchants in California to showcase our early wines, and remains a favorite of ours; their Central Coast wine selection is top notch. Join us as we return to pour our latest releases and share stories of our recently completed harvest season.

DRAGONETTECELLARS.COM


ROSS COBB – WINEMAKER, COBB WINES

ABOUT ROSS COBB
Since founding Cobb Wines with his father in 2001, Ross Cobb has guided Cobb’s winemaking program, championing a complex, cool-climate style of pinot noir that captures the sophistication of the Sonoma Coast. Approaching his work with an extreme dedication to craft—in both viticulture and winemaking—Ross has quietly earned a reputation as a pinot noir specialist, producing benchmark single-vineyard wines. In the winery, Ross applies traditional techniques and a gentle hand to capture the personality of each vineyard, while emphasizing quality and complexity at every stage of winemaking.

Ross was born in Northern California, and traveled widely with his family throughout his youth, visiting Europe, Asia, Africa, and living in the Middle East. While working toward a degree in biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Ross began helping his father David with the planting of Coastlands Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast. Working in the vineyard on weekends and summers, Ross fell in love with the process of growing grapes and switched his major to agroecology and sustainable agriculture.

After earning his degree, Ross joined the team at Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery in Dry Creek Valley, where he established a soils laboratory and winery research team. At the same time, Ross remained deeply involved at Coastlands Vineyard, making his own non-commercial, small-lot pinot noirs each year. He also regularly tasted barrel samples, alongside Bert Williams, of wines being made by Williams Selyem from Coastlands fruit. “As I was making my own wines and tasting what Bert was doing with our fruit,” says Ross, “something happened. I realized how deeply I wanted to make the best wines possible—beautiful wines. To do this, I dedicated myself to learning everything I possibly could about pinot noir viticulture and winemaking.”

Over the next decade, Ross honed his winemaking skills. At the same time, he also narrowed his focus, developing a special talent for crafting Sonoma Coast pinot noirs. Following a stint as the enologist and lab manager for Randall Grahm at Bonny Doon Vineyard, Ross joined the Williams Selyem team as viticulturist and enologist. At Williams Selyem, Ross was able to work alongside Bert Williams and Bob Cabral, while at the same time working with grapes from Coastlands Vineyard. In 2000, Ross joined Flowers Vineyard and Winery as assistant winemaker. While at Flowers, Ross further refined his approach to Sonoma Coast pinot noir, and ultimately took over from Hugh Chappelle as winemaker in 2004.

During his tenure at Flowers, Ross and his father, David, founded Cobb Wines, crafting 130 cases of their inaugural Coastlands Vineyard pinot noir in 2001. As the winemaker for Cobb Wines, Ross divides his energies between the vineyards and winemaking to create singular wines with a clearly defined style. This style highlights a more complex and aromatic, lower-alcohol expression of pinot noir, picked at lower Brix and aged with a modest amount of new French oak. At the same time, Ross is constantly striving to enhance his knowledge, and has traveled to Burgundy eight times in the past eight years, meeting with as many as 100 different winemakers and numerous French coopers to expand his understanding of pinot noir, enhance his barrel program, and further refine his palate.

The Cobb Wines Story
In 2001, two generations of the Cobb family came together to explore a shared passion for pinot noir wines with the founding of Cobb Wines. Focused exclusively on crafting single vineyard, Sonoma Coast pinot noirs, Cobb Wines combines the winegrowing expertise of David Cobb—one of the pioneers of pinot noir viticulture on the far Sonoma Coast—with the winemaking talents of his son, noted Pinot Noir specialist Ross Cobb.

The original seeds for Cobb Wines were planted in 1989, when David began cultivating pinot noir vines at his sustainably farmed Coastlands Vineyard. A marine ecologist by trade, David spent years studying soils and climatological charts in his search for the ideal place to found his vineyard. His search led him to the ridgetops of the Sonoma Coast, where he believed he would be able to grow grapes perfectly suited to a more complex and graceful style of California pinot noir. On weekend and summer breaks from college, David would be joined in the vineyard by his son Ross, who quickly grew to love the hands-on work of growing winegrapes.

After graduating with a degree in agroecology and sustainable agriculture, Ross embarked on a winemaking career, learning his craft from an array of pinot noir winemakers on two continents. At the same time, Ross and David began making small, homemade lots of noncommercial pinot noir from Coastlands fruit. “We dug a little cellar out under the porch of our house at Coastlands,” says Ross. “We would punch down the wines in little open-top fermentors on the porch and then gravity flow the wine into barrel. Even though it was all very primitive, the wines showed promise, and each year we learned more.”

Though David’s original plan for Coastlands Vineyard was simply to sell grapes to artisan vintners, Ross had a different vision for Coastlands’ exceptional fruit. After spending nearly a decade developing his winemaking skills, he approached his parents with the idea of founding Cobb Wines - a goal that would allow David, Diane and Ross to guide every step of the winemaking process, from the planting of the vineyard to the crafting of sophisticated, cool-climate pinot noirs. This goal was realized in 2001, when David and Ross crafted 130 cases of Cobb Wines’ inaugural “Coastlands Vineyard” pinot noir.

Released in 2003, the wine sold out almost immediately. The following spring, their 2002
“Coastlands Vineyard,” along with 31 pinot noir wines from France and elsewhere around the world, were combined in an “In Pinot Veritas” blind tasting. The event was organized in France by Arnaud Orsel des Sagets of Tonnellerie Francois Freres, one of the world’s most respected producers of wine barrels. When the “Coastlands Vineyard” won First Place, the Cobbs knew they were on their way.

Since then, the Cobb Wines vineyard program has evolved to include four other handtended, independently owned vineyards on the Sonoma Coast. Though these vineyards share certain essential Sonoma Coast characteristics, they each have individual soil types, subtly different microclimates, and unique combinations of pinot noir selections. Not only does this diversity distinguish the Cobb Wines portfolio, it also ensures Ross and David access to excellent fruit every vintage.

In the winery, Ross focuses on a style of pinot noir that authentically reflects the terroir of each vineyard, striving for a more complex, aromatic, lower-alcohol expression of the varietal picked at lower Brix and aged with a modest amount of new French oak. By remaining true to this elegant and complex style, Cobb Wines has earned a reputation for crafting benchmark single-vineyard, Sonoma Coast pinot noirs.

COBBWINES.COM

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