Flowers “Extreme” Pinot Noir 2009


The Flowers Vineyard and Winery website says they’re located in the “Extreme” Sonoma Coast. No kidding.

When I saw this photo on the website, I said, “Holy Cow, why are there rocky cliffs instead of rolling hillsides, and how can they grow grapes there?”

Well, the truth is they can grow as good or better grapes there than anywhere else. The Flowers vineyards are situated on several ridge tops just two miles from the Pacific coast. They’re at elevations above 1,000 feet, so instead of being buried in coastal fog for half the day, like most good Pinot Noir vineyards, these vineyards bask in bright sunshine. They’re still kept cool, though, by ocean breezes, and at night the evening fog rolls in and cools everything down for the night. The Flowers have the perfect “warm site in a cool climate,” an ideal place to produce Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Walt and Joan Flowers discovered these amazing sites pretty casually — they answered a three-line classified ad for land in the Northern Sonoma Coast. These Pennsylvania natives were familiar with Oregon and northern California from regular trips for their nursery business back East.

Wait a minute — their name is Flowers, and they owned a nursery? I’d say they were a natural for the grape growing and winemaking¬† business, too.

I recently encountered Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2009, and I loved it. I didn’t expect the intensity I encountered. It started with the nose: I was hit with loads of baking spice, light cherry, licorice, plum, and even baked caramel. Wow — there’s the whole kitchen sink of complexity, right there.

The palate kept right on rolling, with soft, rich fruit and intense black cherry notes. But it wasn’t heavy or jammy — bright acid lifted it up and waltzed it right through to the supple, lingering finish.

Like I said, I loved it.

I guess that’s what the ridge top vineyards have created — intensity with elegance. The 2009 growing season helped, too. Temperatures were a little cool, allowing the grapes to ripen slowly and completely, and be picked with relatively low sugars and complete physiological development.

I hope you can find a bottle for yourself, although I gotta tell you it’s not always easy to find.¬† Flowers has gotten a boatload of awards and “Best of” ratings almost since the day they started bottling wine, so their supply goes fast.

Here’s hoping you get the chance to enjoy it as much as I did. Cheers!



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