The particular focus of our intent is to make a wine that has balance as a characteristic of greater importance than intensity; a wine whose vineyard character is of greater importance than varietal character. Overall we want to make a wine that has a sense of balance, a sense of local authenticity. It will try to seduce you—and make you glad it did.

Don Blackburn, Founding Winemaker


The philosophy of Emeritus Vineyards is influenced by our founding winemaker, McDonald “Don” Blackburn. Don, born in Virginia, studied and worked in Burgundy for many years before returning to the United States. He believed that when Pinot Noir achieves its highest expression, there is no wine that can compare with it. Don observed that, historically, a disproportionately high number of the greatest wines have been Pinot Noir.

All wine starts in the vineyard. That is why being an Estate winery is so important to Emeritus, because it allows for an attention to land, planting, and cultivation of Pinot Noir vines is second to none. We prize this especially because the right combination of soil and climate is crucial to the vineyard’s expression of terroir in the wine.

  • Soil gives wine its character
  • Climate gives wine its personality
  • People give wine its spirit or style

(Read more about these three pillars of our philosophy here.)

California vineyards, unlike most wine–growing regions around the world, receive no summer rainfall to sustain the vines. Yet the vines can survive—and thrive—on winter rainfall stored in the soils. This allows us to dry farm, which is the practice of farming in sync with nature’s cycle and without supplemental irrigation.

This estate dry-farmed Hallberg Ranch vineyard seems to consistently deliver the goods, and the fact that the vineyard is dry-farmed clearly has a positive impact on the intensity of the flavor of the wine.

—Tim Teichgraeber, Modern Wine (May 2021)

The vines may have to dig deep for water, but that extra effort pays off in the heightened quality of the resulting fruit. In addition to being a more sustainable farming practice, dry farming allows our vines to produce fully ripe grapes without excessive sugars while preserving acid. The combination makes for the most honest reflection of the vineyard and the vintage; our winemaker, David Lattin, uses a minimalistic and gentle approach that allows the finished wine to reflect that heritage. 

That’s why in every glass, regardless of vintage, you’ll find the elegance, balance, and charm that Emeritus Vineyards Pinot Noir is known for.

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Thank you for your interest in our family-owned winery and dry farmed, estate grown Pinot Noirs! Joining our mailing list is the best way to stay up to date on all things Emeritus. You’ll receive notifications of new releases, events, special offers, and more. We look forward to sharing our wines with you in the future!

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