Failla Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir
My daughter’s favorite was Flowers. In fact, when she was tasting wine for her wedding she sipped both Flowers and Failla. When I asked her which Pinot Noir she preferred, she replied, Flowers. So, I had her blind folded and we poured a glass of each Pinot Noir and she selected what she preferred – Failla.
Failla’s Keefer Ranch Vineyard was planted in 1988 by Marcy Keefer and her husband Robert, a retired doctor who took night classes on grape farming before diving into the deep end and establishing the site. Eleven years later, a handshake deal with a certain Pittsburgher would create Failla’s first vineyard-designate Pinot Noir.
Failla (pronounced FAY-la) was originally founded as Failla Jordan in 1998, taking its name from the husband-and-wife team of winemaker Ehren Jordan and fellow debtor Anne-Marie Failla. That year the Estate vineyard on the Sonoma Coast was planted and together they began buying fruit for their first releases, the very Rhône-style ‘98 Alban Vineyard Viognier and ‘98 Que Syrah Syrah. Jordan also obtained Pinot Noir from Summa Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast years ago. After three vintages, legal issues over the use of the word Jordan (as in Jordan Winery) in the name forced them to continue the label as simply “Failla”.
Failla debuted with a new Chuck House-designed label in the fall of 2002. The original label, designed by Anne-Marie’s sister Marybeth, has been archived and the first three vintages will join either the pantheon of collectors’ items or the fraternity of the oddities bin.
Ehren spent several years looking for unique, cool-climate Pinot Noir sources. After tasting Marcassin’s Pinot Noir from the Fort Ross-Seaview region of the Sonoma Coast, he bought 43 acres from a couple of pot farmers on what is known as the Gualala Ranch. The Failla Estate Vineyard consists of 11 acres of organically farmed Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah.
The portfolio has included Pinots from the Hirsch Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast (added in 2001) as well a Keefer Ranch in Green Valley. The 2005 vintage brought Pinot Noirs from Occidental Ridge on the Sonoma Coast, and Rancho Santa Rosa in the Santa Rita Hills north of Santa Barbara. 2006 included Appian Way Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley, as well as Peay Vineyards and Estate Pinot from the Sonoma Coast. In 2011, vineyard sources include Hudson Vineyard (Chardonnay), Haynes Vineyard (Chardonnay), Pearlessence Vineyard (Sonoma Coast), Whistler Vineyard (Sonoma Coast).
Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch reveals attractive aromas of rose petals, black cherries, raspberries, and earthy, foresty notes. It offers a lot more flavor and intensity than its medium ruby color might suggest, a common occurrence with Pinot Noir.
The wine is usually available on wine.com >>