The Emeritus Vineyards story began with a remarkable ridgetop piece of land in the Russian River Valley named Hallberg Ranch. In the early 1990s, Brice Cutrer Jones became transfixed by the idea of growing Pinot Noir on the 115-acre site. “With its perfect soil and cool climate, it is an extraordinary piece of land,” says Brice. “Truly great vineyard land is a rarity, and we understood that Hallberg had all of the qualities necessary to be a grand cru-caliber vineyard.”
Hallberg Ranch came up for sale in 1999—the same year that Brice sold Sonoma–Cutrer Vineyards, the iconic winery that he had spent a quarter century building into one of California’s most revered Chardonnay producers. “As one chapter in my life ended, another began,” says Brice. “I knew that I wanted to take everything I’d learned about growing grapes and apply it to making the finest Pinot Noirs in California. For over two decades, this has been our mission.”
To achieve this goal, Brice was joined by several talented individuals who he had spent decades working alongside at Sonoma–Cutrer—people who shared his exacting vision and his desire to create a new benchmark for American Pinot Noir. In the years that followed, this team planted Hallberg Ranch, crafted their debut 2004 vintage of Pinot Noir, and acquired a second estate property, Pinot Hill. The team also committed Emeritus to a unique path that would further cement the winery’s reputation for making terroir-driven wines when they began dry farming their Pinot Noir, a rare practice in California that allows the grapes to achieve ideal ripeness at lower sugar levels.
Emeritus is also guided by the timeless philosophy that great wines are shaped by three factors:
- Soil gives wine its character
- Climate gives wine its personality
- People give wine its spirit or style
The distinctive soils that our vineyards are planted in allow us to dry farm our grapes, resulting in the remarkably deep and enduring root structures that shape the character and complexity of our Pinot Noirs. The cool, foggy climate of our two renowned vineyards give our wines their pure, soaring flavors and elegant and energetic personalities. Last, but most important, the experience, wisdom and passion of our acclaimed team give our wines their spirit, creating Pinot Noirs that are as unique as they are extraordinary.
Today, Emeritus is run by Brice’s daughter, dynamic second-generation President Mari Jones, and renowned Winemaker David Lattin. “Every wine we make comes from vines we planted, and grapes stewarded by our own in-house team.” says Mari. “Each person here is among the best at what they do, and most bring a lifetime of experience to their roles. We love what we do, and we love working together, which is part of the essence of our wines.”
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