Vine Hill’s Santa Cruz Mountains Pinots Capture Top Honors

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Vine Hill Winery has announced that five of its Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir wines have recently been honored by wine media and by national and international wine competitions, including high ratings in Wine Enthusiast and Wine & Spirits magazines, as well as being awarded platinum, gold and silver medals at prestigious national wine competitions. After achieving organic certification from the California Certified Organic Farmers, (CCOF) last fall, and the replanting of the vineyard to predominantly Pinot Noir grapes a few years ago, these latest accolades further demonstrate Vine Hill’s commitment to producing outstanding Pinot Noir as well as its success in capturing the distinctive attributes of the Santa Cruz Mountains wine growing region’s terroir and climate in its wines.

Vine Hill Winery, located in the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains wine appellation, has announced that five of its Pinot Noir wines, crafted with fruit from the wine region, have just captured high ratings in the February 2011 issue of Wine Enthusiast and the April 2011 issue of Wine & Spirits magazines, as well as receiving platinum, gold and silver medals at noted national wine competitions. These accomplishments further exhibit how Vine Hill’s owner and winegrower, Nick Guerrero, winemaker Sal Godinez and vineyard manager Rachel Ormes have collaborated to produce exceptional wines that characterize the increasingly recognized hallmarks and recognition of Pinot Noir grapes grown in the Santa Cruz Mountains wine growing region.

Wine Enthusiast and Wine & Spirits Bestow 92-Point Ratings on Cumbre Pinot Noir Wines

Vine Hill’s Cumbre 2007 Hicks Family Vineyard Pinot Noir, and the Cumbre 2007 Raffaelli Vineyards Pinot Noir, both crafted from Santa Cruz Mountains fruit, captured the attention of Wine Enthusiast magazine in its February 2011 issue, receiving impressive ratings of 92 points each, with the Raffaelli also receiving a 92-point rating in the April 2011 issue of Wine & Spirits magazine.

Cumbre 2007 Pinot Noir, Hicks Family Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains — In his review of this wine, Wine Enthusiast’s Steve Heimoff called it “. . . The winery’s best Pinot Noir, and it shows its superiority once again in the richness and excellent structure . . . these mountain Pinots age well.”

As it becomes one of Vine Hill Winery’s signature wines, the Cumbre Hicks Pinot also received a gold medal at the 2011 Winemaker Challenge International Wine Competition; a gold in the 2010 Critics Challenge International Wine Competition; and a silver at the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

Cumbre 2007 Pinot Noir, Raffaelli Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains — Not to be out-done by the Hicks, the Cumbre Raffaelli was also rated with 92 points in Wine Enthusiast, and Heimoff referred to it as “A very rich and intricate Pinot Noir, full-bodied and fairly tannic, yet with a delicately silky texture.” Noting as well that, although it is good now, he suggested that the wine could “blossom after 2012-2013.”

And Wine & Spirits said of the 92-point Raffaelli in its April 2011 issue, “ . . . This wine matches its layers of flavor with tannic intensity. There’s a floral strawberry note and the conifer hues of a coastal forest, while soil-driven acidity keeps it bright and grounded.”

Wine competition judges also appear to agree with the media’s assessments, as shown by this wine receiving a silver medal at the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition as well as at the 2010 Critics Challenge International Wine Competition.

Stellar Pair of Vine Hill Pinots Also Grab Wine Enthusiast’s and Wine & Spirits’ Attention

As Vine Hill’s flagship wine grape varietal, Pinot Noir is understandably high on the list of priorities when it comes to winemaking at the winery. And, with organic certification from the California Certified Organic Farmers, (CCOF) in the fall of 2010 and the replanting a few years ago of all of the winery’s vineyard acreage to predominantly Pinot Noir, it stands to reason that the growing Vine Hill brand of Pinot Noir is showing some brilliant “colors” of its own as it moves steadily forward and establishes a regarded position in the national wine market. This is particularly evidenced by the recent accolades two 2008 Vine Hill Pinots have recently received.

Vine Hill 2008 Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains — With top gold medal honors at this year’s Winemaker Challenge International Wine Competition, as well as at the Affairs of the Vine Pinot Noir Shootout; a solid rating of 87 points from Wine Enthusiast in its February 2011 issue; and a silver medal at the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, this wine is flourishing in the newfound recognition of its consistency and quality. Steve Heimoff at Wine Enthusiast noted that “ . . . It’s dry and elegantly silky, with good cherry, berry, cola and spice flavors.”

Vine Hill 2008 Pinot Noir, Sea Change, Santa Cruz Mountains — “Supple and heady, this is rich rather than complex, a full-on beam of bright raspberry flavor and lasting spice. Delicious with grilled salmon,” is what Wine & Spirits had to say about this wine in its April 2011 issue, while gracing it with a “Best Buy” 91-point rating.

And, in Wine Enthusiast’s February 2011 issue, where Vine Hill’s Sea Change rated at 89 points, Steve Heimoff said of this stand-up wine, “A very good Pinot Noir, bone dry and full-bodied, with a clean mouthfeel and a long, spicy finish.”

The wine also received silver medals at this year’s Winemaker Challenge International Wine Competition and Affairs of the Vine’s Pinot Noir Shootout, both in addition to a silver awarded to it last fall at the Santa Cruz Mountains Wine Competition.

Winemaker Challenge International Wine Competition Honors Gatos Locos Pinots with Platinum

Gatos Locos 2007 Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains — Platinum Medal, Winemaker Challenge International Wine Competition

There’s no question that gold medals are highly respected and sought-after by many winemakers. But it’s an exceptionally momentous occasion for a distinguished few when a wine receives a rarely bestowed platinum award. In the selection of platinum award winners, the Winemaker Challenge International Wine Competition reserves platinum recognition only for wines that advance through the judging to the championship round, and in this year’s competition, only 40 of the 705 wines entered made it to the finals and were awarded platinum status.

This characteristic Santa Cruz Mountains wine shows flavors of raspberry and cherry, mingled with a zing of acidity and a spicy finish. It also received a silver medal at the 2010 Santa Cruz Mountains Commercial Wine Competition.

Also of significant note for another Vine Hill wine, is the Gatos Locos 2007 Pinot Noir, Scintilla Vineyard, Los Carneros, which also received a platinum medal at the 2011 Winemaker Challenge competition. A wine that aptly showcases the unique characteristics of the Carneros wine appellation.

Among all Vine Hill Winery wines — Cumbre, Vine Hill and Gatos Locos — the one key attribute that they all have in common is Vine Hill’s very own Sal Godinez, who personally and painstakingly crafted each-and-every one of them. And, with only two months underway, 2011 looks like it will be a very promising milestone year for Vine Hill Winery and its talented and award-winning winemaker.

About Vine Hill Winery, Santa Cruz Mountains:
Vine Hill Winery is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains at 2300 Jarvis Road, Santa Cruz, California 95065, and accessed from the City of Santa Cruz via Branciforte Road, and from Los Gatos via Highway 17 and Vine Hill Road. The tasting room is open to the public on the third weekend of each month from noon to 5pm and for special events and selected holidays. For more information and directions, or to purchase wine directly from the winery, please visit: vinehillwinery.com or call: 831-427-0436.

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