Grower Website U.S. Grant Region: Santa Cruz Mountains

“It’s 6 acres – that’s it…that’s all it will ever be.”

On storied land nestled in the redwood forests overlooking Monterey Bay, U.S. Grant produces a Pinot Noir of true distinction. The six-acre vineyard of U.S. Grant was planted by brothers John and George Jarvis in 1862, during the Civil War, and is the first known vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  Following Phylloxera’s defeat, the vineyard was revived in 1914, later to be replanted to Pinot Noir by Ken Burnap who bottled the wine under the Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards labels from 1974 to 2004.

Nat Simons and Laura Baxter-Simons became the proprietors of the estate vineyard and winery when Ken retired, replanting the vineyards in 2006 and reviving the original “Union Vineyard” name under the U.S. Grant brand – in honor of the Jarvis brothers’ patriotism.  Nat and Laura chose winemaker Michael Terrien for his respect of California’s Pinot Noir history to manifest their vision with 2012 being the  first vintage of this modern era. It marks the beginning of a new tradition from one of California’s earliest great Pinot Noir vineyards.

Country U.S.
Region California
Appellation(s) Santa Cruz Mountains
Proprietors Nat Simons & Laura Baxter-Simons
Founded 2004
Winemaker Michael Terrien
Annual Production 200-900 9L cases
Farming (Sustainable, organic, biodynamic) Organically farmed, no-till, dry farmed
VINEYARDS      Organic | no-till | dry farmed

The vineyard and winery overlook the Monterey Bay at 1,100 feet. The vineyards at sunrise often feel like an island in the clouds with the marine layer rising up from the Pacific to temper the climate. The vines are organically farmed and, owing to a thin layer of topsoil, a permanent cover crop is maintained to reduce erosion. The roots of the vines penetrate the sandstone of the Santa Cruz Mountains and absorb moisture deep underground, rather than depending on surface irrigation. This dry-farming approach develops flavor in the grapes while restricting yields. The viticulture here has sustained 150 years of winemaking, and these practices promote the expression of this singular piece of land.


In 2012, Michael Terrien, previously of Hanzell Vineyards, joined U.S. Grant as winemaker. The effort to revive a great wine from this property is underpinned by Terrien’s appreciation for the traditions of creating California Pinot Noir. Gravity and patience are the tools of the cellar. You’ll not find a pump or a filter on the estate. This reliance on technique rather than technology captures the character of the region, and embraces simplicity as the imprimatur of purity.

Whole-cluster Pinot Noir is naturally fermented in twelve, one-of-a-kind, concrete vessels that are shaped like teacups—the design for which the winery holds a patent. A passive, month-long, cool fermentation, and very gentle and long maceration, allows for transparency—the terroir imprints itself on the wine. Bottling takes place barrel-by-barrel, following 20 months in blonde toast French oak. Average annual production varies between 200 and 900 cases.

Estate Pinot Noir – Union Vineyard 100% Pinot Noir Replanted 2006 Maymen-Rock outcrop complex, sandstone underlayment 6 acres