U.S. Grant

Pinot Noir Union Vineyard – 2016

Region: Santa Cruz Mountains

U.S. Grant

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 for Pinot Noir 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.

The Wine

Vineyard Profile

Historic Union Vineyard, 6 acres, located in the coast redwood band along the spine of the southern Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. The oldest known vineyard in the region, originally planted in 1862.

  • Altitude: 1100 feet
  • Soil: Maymen-Rock outcrop complex, sandstone underlayment
  • Climate: Above the fog line from Pacific Ocean. Marine layer periodically through day and night tempers the California sun and temperatures
  • Replanted: 2006-2008
  • No irrigation or tilling
Harvest Notes
  • Vine output was limited by the 5th drought year, but persistent summer marine layer countered the dry soil in 2016 – wet the leaves most nights, dampening the tight clusters
  • Humidity kept vineyard work heavy
  • 2016 became a touchstone for understanding the Union Vineyard site, which enabled harvesting less-ripe fruit earlier in the season in subsequent vintages with good results
  • Whole cluster pressed into 12 one-of-a-kind, open-top concrete vessels shaped like teacups
  • Fermented using only native yeasts for 30 days
  • No pigeage
  • Aged 20 months in blond-toasted French oak barrels
Winemaker's Notes

Highly aromatic with savory herbs and compelling forest, mountain strawberry, and high tones of dried herbs, juniper, carraway, and Tellicherry pepper. The wine’s appeal isn’t power; instead it compels and beguiles with complex perfume. Vivid but not obvious. Such a high degree of complexity, as if the wine were more mature, yet its youthfulness persists which raises expectations for long-term cellaring. A lighter structure than 2015 and all subsequent vintages.

Wine Summary

100% Pinot Noir; alcohol: 13.3%; Union Vineyard, the oldest planted vineyard in the southern Santa Cruz Mountains AVA; 1,100ft elevation overlooking the Pacific; sandstone soils; whole cluster pressed and fermented using only native yeasts in unique “teacup” open top concrete vessels; 21 day slow ferment; no pigeage; aged 20 months in blond-toast French oak barrels.

Technical Information
  • 100% Pinot Noir
  • Alcohol: 12.3%

General Info

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