Clary Ranch is located in the Petaluma Gap region of the Sonoma Coast AVA, about 5 miles due west of Petaluma and 11 miles from Tomales Bay. Clary Ranch Wines was founded by grower & winemaker Paul Clary, who planted the estate vineyards in 2000.
The vineyards consist of 5 blocks of Pinot Noir on about 12.5 acres and 2 blocks of Syrah on about 2.5 acres. The Pinot Noir clones are Dijon 133 & 667, and Pommard 4. The Syrah clones are Syrah 174 and Shiraz 1. The Pacific winds blow strongly through the end of August, and the grapes depend upon the warm, still days of September and October to ripen. Clary Ranch is on the extreme edge of cool-climate viticulture on the continent. The latest Syrah harvest has been just before Thanksgiving!
The grapes are harvested at night, and brought to the winery cold. After destemming and crushing, the juice is cold soaked for 5-10 days. Natural fermentation is allowed to begin, and the fermenting must is inoculated with a commercial yeast (Assmanshausen for Pinot, a Rhone strain for Syrah) after the Brix has dropped about 10 degrees, in order to provide natural flavor complexity while insuring against a stuck fermentation. The must is punched down 3-4 times daily, never pumped over. The wine is pressed just before dryness, and allowed to complete fermentation in barrel. Malolactic fermentation is facilitated by the remaining heat of primary fermentation.
Barrel aging lasts for 18-24 months. 50% new barrels are used. Pinot Noir is aged in French oak barrels from various coopers, and the Syrah is aged in a mixture of French and American oak. After bottling, the wines are aged for another 1-2 years prior to release.
The resultant wines reflect an elegant balance that has been heralded by wine critics and fans alike. In 2007, Wine Spectator named Clary Ranch as among "The Hot New Dozen of California Pinot Noir". Wine Enthusiast said that Clary Ranch is one to "keep an eye on". Allen Meadows of Burghound, often tough on California Pinots, has enthusiastically acclaimed Clary Ranch Pinot Noir as having "impeccable" balance. Clary Ranch Syrah, in very limited production, has a fast-growing base of fans who have fallen in love with its peppery black fruit, which provides the absolutely perfect complement for grilled and roasted meats.