U.S. Grant

Pinot Noir Union Vineyard – 2019

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
  • A bit more rain than the year before meant steady ripening and a leisurely harvest with slightly smaller crop in 2019
  • Hand harvested into 12 one-of-a-kind, open-top concrete vessels shaped like teacups
  • Fermented using only native yeasts for 31 days; maceration time determines extraction for U.S. Grant.
  • Whole cluster pressed
  • All teacups were treaded
  • Aged 17 months in blond-toasted French oak barrels
Winemaker's Notes

Firm tannin although less aggressive than 2018. The savory signature emerging first in 2016 is here reprised and elaborated on with crab apple and the spiced warmth of sweet earth, in the manner of roasted chestnut. Relative to the exotic and louche 2018, the personality of the 2019 is buttoned-up. It seems to hold back more, with a nod and a wink to the future.

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; 31 day slow ferment; all treaded; aged 17 months in 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