Thursday, September 12, 2013

Phillips Hill Winery – Elk, California

Phillips Hill Winery is located on Greenwood Ridge, west of Anderson Valley in the Mendocino Ridge appellation. In 1997 Toby Hill purchased 30 acres 5 years later the winery founded in 2002. Toby is an artist-turned-winemaker who has a BFA from California College of the Arts. Previously he was a practicing artist in New York and then worked as Architectural Color and Plaster business owner in San Francisco. His venture as an artistic winemaker began when a local winemaker decided not to begin a brand and offered him 4 barrels of an unfinished 2002 vintage of Pinot Noir from Oppenlander Vineyard in Comptche, Mendocino. Currently Toby sources grapes from local vineyards close to his home and winery but soon he will be farming his established estate vineyard.

Toby is joined by sommelier Natacha Durandet from the Loire Valley Region of France. She also serves as hospitality director and sales consultant for Violet-Green Winery. Her previous experience working as a sommelier at The Broadmoor Hotel (January 1994  January 1998), a Sommelier at The Wine Cellar / Napa Restaurant at The Rio Hotel (January 1998  January 2002) and Hospitality Director /Direct Sales at Ponzi Vineyards (January 2003  January 2009).

The Apple Dryer Barn and Tasting Room

The winery and tasting room is located in a very rustic 100+ year old apple dryer barn. It was originally owned by the Day family in the 1880s. Before modern means of transporting fresh fruit apples were dried on site and transported to port by way of buckboard. They were then shipped out to communities along the Pacific coast. Subsequently the 53-acre ranch was used to raise sheep as well as grow apples, pears and grapes. Then in the 1970s the Oswald family, who had been farming in Mendocino County for over two decades the ranch and planted over 100 acres Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

The Wines

The tasting room is located at the weathered redwood barn and is surrounded by antique apple drying equipment and a remnant of a small apple and pear orchard. While visiting I sampled the following wines:

The first wine was the 2012 Chardonnay, Ridley Vineyard – Anderson Valley. This wine is clear, almost water-white with aromas of apricots, granny smith apples, with a hint of melon and wet stone. On the palate it is fairly light with medium- body, but very crisp medium+ acidity and a long finish. A well-balanced wine. If you prefer non-oaky buttery wines then you’ll like this one. It sells for $30 per bottle.

The second pour was the 2012 Gewürztraminer – Valley Foothills Vineyard. On the nose this wine displays aromas of lychee, melon rind, lemon-lime, ripe apples, green tea and spice. On the palate it has additional notes of intense apricots, it is light bodied with high acidity and a medium+ length finish. I brought a bottle home for $20.

The third wine was the 2011 Boontling Pinot Noir – Anderson Valley. This wine is light ruby red with subtle aromas of strawberries, raspberries, and subtle herbal notes. On the nose it is crisp with tart fruit, medium- in body and a medium length finish. This wine sells for $25 per bottle.

The final sample was the 2009 Wiley Vineyard Pinot Noir – Anderson Valley. On the nose this wine has aromas of strawberries, cherries, spice and a touch of smoke. On the palate it is light bodied with medium+ acidity and a medium length finish. This wine sells for $38 per bottle.

To visit or for more information:

Phillips Hill Winery

25690 Philo Greenwood Road

Elk, CA 95432

Phone: 1-707-895-2209