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2022 Spring Release Newsletter

2019 Bodega Headlands Vineyard Cuvée Elizabeth
2019 Running Fence Vineyard Cuvée Catherine
2019 SWK Vineyard
2019 Bodega Ridge Vineyard
2019 Occidental Station Vineyard


We are proud to announce the Occidental 2022 Spring Release, which includes our five single-vineyard pinot noirs from the 2019 vintage. Please note, this offering includes our newest pinot noir from Bodega Ridge. This will be Occidental’s only release this year.

This is a milestone for us. From the very beginning, we hoped to produce two single-vineyard bottlings from each of our ridgetop properties. With the Bodega Ridge Vineyard pinot noir, our lineup is now complete. From the Bodega Headlands property will come the Cuvée Elizabeth and SWK wines, and from the Bodega Ridge property – where our winery and tasting room are located – will come the Cuvée Catherine and Bodega Ridge wines. These four truly singular pinot noirs are at the heart of everything we do at Occidental.

Yields were down in 2019, especially at Bodega Headlands where the number of cases of SWK produced was just half of normal. On the bright side, quality was off the charts for both SWK Vineyard and Bodega Headlands Vineyard Cuvée Elizabeth. In fact, we were so impressed with the Cuvée Elizabeth in 2019 that we chose to bottle a portion of it in magnum.

The 2018 and 2019 Occidental pinot noirs are without a doubt the best back-to-back vintages we have produced to date. The 2019s have much in common with the 2018s. Both vintages emphasize structure and are very precise, vivid, crystalline wines. But while the 2018s will need patience and are developing at a glacial pace, the 2019s have always had a bit more exuberance and flesh on their bones, which will make them even more approachable and hard to resist as young wines.

Catherine and I are heartened by the reception that our 2018 pinot noirs received last year. Both Antonio Galloni of Vinous and Erin Brooks of The Wine Advocate gave perfect scores to the SWK Vineyard and Running Fence Vineyard Cuvée Catherine, respectively, while Jeb Dunnuck gave the Cuvée Catherine 99 points, noting that it may ultimately merit a perfect score once it reaches maturity.

It is always gratifying to receive high marks for our wines from people we respect. But it was Antonio’s final remarks, which provided context to his reviews of our wines, that meant the most.

“The Occidental 2018s are reference point wines for an emerging appellation that one day may very well be viewed as iconic bottlings by future generations.”

I started planting pinot noir vineyards west of the town of Occidental over 27 years ago. For some time now, it has been clear how special the best of these sites are. In the coming years, if we continue to do our part and give these vineyards all the care they deserve, then there is no telling how good the wines from here can be. Catherine and I know we have only begun to scratch the surface.

The 2019 Pinot Noirs: Our brief tasting notes

2019 Bodega Headlands Vineyard Cuvée Elizabeth

Pristine, high-pitched aromas of alpine red fruits – tart and sweet cherries, wild raspberries, and red roses. For such an intense wine, there is an effortless sense of harmony on the entry, more floral than savory, followed by a mélange of deep red fruit flavors and a distinct oyster shell minerality that becomes more pronounced with time in the glass. Finishes gracefully, with fine tannins and a rising perfume. Our best Cuvée Elizabeth in years.

2019 Running Fence Vineyard Cuvée Catherine

Gem-like, ultraviolet ruby color in the glass. Extremely compelling aromatics open with minerals, umami, ocean brine – this conveys a subtle, estuarine wildness to the wine. Red and black berry flavors build in intensity, as does a violet floral note. There is tension between glossy black raspberry, blood orange, black cherry, and the wine’s bracing salinity. A perfect balance of brightness and depth – the finish is seamless and totally alluring.

2019 SWK Vineyard

Striking aromas of red and darker berries are crystalline and hyper-defined. Notes of fresh thyme, crushed stones, and red rose petals offer a nearly perfect balance of savory intensity and chiseled red fruits. Flavors of tiny wild strawberries, red currants, and vibrant black raspberry have a discreet salty edge to them. Its finish crackles with electricity and goes on and on.

2019 Bodega Ridge Vineyard

A remarkably intense and vivid wine. Extremely pure and penetrating, with brilliant black raspberry and black cherry aromas, laced with blood orange. A touch of marine brine accents these aromas and imparts a distinct coastal character. Beautifully sculpted and detailed on the palate with bright red and purple berry flavors that unfold in the glass. Finishes with brisk acidity and a firm mineral backbone. It is rare for a wine with such personality and dimension to be so finely etched and light on its feet.

2019 Occidental Station Vineyard

Opens with a laser beam of purple fruits, cassis, and blueberry – all energized by the wine’s bright acidity and gravelly minerality. A very precise, tightly wound wine with superb concentration. The multifaceted, satin-like finish lingers long in the mouth, bursting with vibrant purple flavors. A worthy successor to the outstanding 2018.

We encourage members to begin enjoying our 2019 pinot noirs soon after their release. We find that decanting them an hour or two before service will enhance their compelling primary aromas and flavor. Over time, our 2019 pinot noirs will develop complex tertiary flavors and character in bottle and will age gracefully for two decades.

Occidental Pinot Noir in Magnum

The wine we have chosen to offer in magnum this vintage is the 2019 Bodega Headlands Vineyard Cuvée Elizabeth. As we did last year, all magnums will be sold as Wish Requests and allocated at the end of the release.

Looking Forward

The 2020 Pinot Noirs: We finished bottling our 2020 pinot noirs in December, and each of our five single-vineyard pinot noirs are outstanding. 2020 was an excellent growing season on the coast. There seemed to be less marine influence than normal, i.e.: fewer wet, foggy mornings and more times when the sun made its appearance before midday – always a welcome sight. As a result, we saw less disease pressure in the vineyards, which meant there was less canopy management needed to keep the fruiting zone properly ventilated and all clusters healthy. The 2020 pinot noirs are bright, high-toned, saline infused wines that could only have come from our ridgetop vineyards.

The 2021 Pinot Noirs: Occidental’s 2021 harvest was one of our best, both in terms of quality and quantity. In spite of drought conditions all season in California, our dry farmed vineyards performed well, thanks in part to the moderating influence of the ocean. The 2021 pinots are resting safely in barrel and look very promising.

Visit Occidental

This spring, my daughter Catherine and Mia Molinar began to welcome members back to our tasting room, which looks out over the headlands of Bodega. It was a welcome sight to have our tasting room full again, and to share our efforts after a year without visitors. This is a perfect setting to taste our pinot noirs and to better appreciate where these wines are grown and why they have such a distinct coastal character. To make an appointment, please visit our website.

Your Allocation

Allocations are based on your length of time on our list, your purchase history, and the production level of each wine.

The Occidental pinot noirs are offered on a first-come basis, which may mean that the release will progress at a fast pace. Again this year, we have been conservative with our initial allocations to give all members a better opportunity to purchase our wines. If you wish to purchase additional bottles, please make a Wish Request. We will grant as many requests as possible at the end of the release.

Please take a moment to review your personal information before the release starts. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us by phone at 707-827-1655 or email info@occidentalwines.com. We will be happy to assist you.

Best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year. We appreciate your continued support.

Steve Kistler and the Kistler Family
Proprietors, Occidental

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