U.S. Grant

Pinot Noir Union Vineyard – 2018

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
  • Warm, dry winter followed by strong rain in early March 2018
  • Summer heat spikes mitigated by marine layer
  • Hand harvested
  • Whole cluster fermented with only native yeasts
  • Fermentation in 12 one-of-a-kind, open-top concrete vessels shaped like teacups
  • Initial pigeage in 1/2 of the teacups
  • Long 34 day maceration in pursuit of structure
  • Malolactic fermentation in barrels very slowly, finishing March 2019
  • Aged 22 months in French oak barrels
Winemaker's Notes

Deep color, savory sandalwood, beguiling spice with cherry, pomegranate, blackberry, blood orange. Great power above all earlier vintages, and monolithic in its youth with a tannic structure rare to Pinot Noir. This wine is built big with extract rather than ripeness, and tells of a future decades in the making. The tannins make an impression like Nebbiolo: persistent and even, dry and broad, with a citrus-zest, espresso-like pinch on the finish. With three years of bottle age, a rustic note speaks of the extended malolactic fermentation during which the wine was not yet under the protective custody of sulfites. This aromatic marker will be as much a  signature of the vintage as the tannins are.

Wine Summary

100% Pinot Noir; alcohol: 12.8%; 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; 34 day slow ferment; initial pigeage for 1/2 the teacup vessels; aged 22 months in primarily blond-toast French oak barrels.

Technical Information
  • 100% Pinot Noir
  • Alcohol: 12.8%

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