Patience & Time:
Winter 2024 Release

Pisoni Vineyards In Winter 2023
The quiet of winter is evident as the Pisoni family walk the crest of the vineyards.

A beautiful, crystalline calm falls upon the vineyards after harvest. In the succeeding weeks, time seems to slow as the rich autumn light gives way to the rainy days of a Monterey County winter.


In contrast with the fall season and the excitement of harvest, winter—the start of the grape grower’s year—can seem an especially quiet period. But the soil teems with life, and with the onset of rain, it soaks up moisture the vines root deep to find. For Mark, the family’s farmer, the start of the year begins with pruning the vines, work that requires great attention and concentration. At Pisoni, the team prunes by hand. This method, which can help ensure a longer life for the vines, requires expert decision-making that develops with training and experience. Along with Mark, longtime team members Elias and Mario possess these qualities in spades. Elias has tended to the vines at Pisoni for longer than Mark and his brother Jeff, the family’s vintner, while team foreman Mario has immense expertise in vineyard as well. Each cut has the potential to shape the vine for a decade or more, so making the right decisions is critical. At Pisoni, the team treats each plant as a unique organism, making cuts and sculpting it with one eye on the growing year and another on the years to come.

“Dad has a great saying,” Mark recalls. “Young vines are like teenagers. They’re strong, produce a lot of fruit, and have a ton of energy. But as they age, they self-regulate more. The vines get wise and settle down, just like people do as they find their place in the world.”

Care, a sense of continuity, and a commitment to the land: the Pisonis take the long view on their spectacular acres. The trained eye that develops with pruning enables the best decisions as it encourages those who work closely with the plants to care about them in a deep way. Mark explains the Pisoni philosophy with respect to pruning this way: “It’s essential that we prune for low yields as that is the first step in making fantastic wine. It’s equally important that we’re sculpting the vines so they will survive for generations. Our talented team ensures these goals are met.”

“Think about caring for a house plant for two or three years,” Jeff adds. “Then think about the risk and challenge of keeping a plant alive for forty years, which is what we do in the vineyard. What were you doing in 1982? That’s when these vines were planted. The things they’ve been witness to and have weathered—drought, fire, floods, and climate change—it’s really something.”


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Jeff, Gary, and Mark Pisoni in the vineyard.

The Lucia Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, and Syrah in this vintage all speak in distinct and memorable ways to the connection the family has with their land. Every year, the family works, watches, and waits for their fruit to achieve the particular relationship between sugar, acid, and flavor they strive toward.

Pruning in Pisoni Vineyards
Fog rolls in as the Pisoni team prunes the vines, preparing for another new season.

Last year they were particularly proud of the praise their Soberanes Vineyard offerings garnered from Wine Spectator, which designated this vineyard as one of the top ten vineyards in California for Chardonnay. The 2021 Lucia Chardonnay Soberanes also found its way into this publication’s list of top 100 wines of the year-a huge honor and the second time Lucia has appeared on its respected list.

Like the 2021 vintage, the Lucia wines of the 2022 vintage possess the same purity and focus—characteristics that are redolent of the purity of the winter air on the slopes of the Santa Lucia Highlands from which they derive. This latest vintage is the result of an exceptionally early season. A warm weather front in late summer prompted the vines to develop the ideal relationship of fruit components the family looks for, and in early September, they harvested the fruit. They’re delighted that all of the wines they crafted from this late summer harvest possess the beauty toward which they aim in every season of the growing year.

Jeff is particularly excited about the 2022 Lucia Soberanes Vineyard Chardonnay and the 2022 Lucia Estate Cuvée Chardonnay, which reflect in deep ways the family’s attachment to their land. Indeed, all of the Lucia Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, and Syrah in this vintage speak in distinct and memorable ways to this abiding connection. With every bottle the family crafts, they are rewarded in a new way for their patient husbanding of the vines. “We live in a fast-paced world, one that encourages us to throw things away. We’re so fortunate to be able to work with nature, which teaches us to understand a longer view of life. Our ultimate return is not in dollars, but in care and connection with the land and in the joy we take in sharing our wines with others,” Mark concludes.

Mark And Elias in Pisoni Vineyards
Mark Pisoni with Elias Gandara, who has tended the vines at Pisoni since the early 1980s.

Wine Spectator selected Soberanes Vineyard as one of the top in California for Chardonnay, and Lucia Soberanes Chardonnay for their Top 100 Wines of 2023.


ESTATE CUVÉES

2022 Lucia | Chardonnay Estate Cuvée

The Lucia Chardonnay Estate Cuvée continually provides a remarkable expression of the two famed vineyard sites within the Santa Lucia Highlands. The 2022 vintage proves to be no exception. Harnessed within its brilliant straw complexion, fresh aromas of red apple skin, ginger and crushed rock emerge, followed by undertones of brûléed citrus and melon. On the palate, the Soberanes Vineyard component blend offers stony minerality while the higher elevation slopes of the Pisoni Vineyard lend rounder notes of white peach and lemon oil. A rich, textured mouthfeel from 12 months of aging in 40% new French oak brings depth and a complexity that is only amplified by the vibrant and youthful acidity present on the finish.

2022 Lucia | Pinot Noir Estate Cuvée

The Lucia Estate Cuvée of Pinot Noir represents the synergy that develops when three estate-farmed vineyards are blended and bottled as a singular wine. The 2022 vintage is comprised of 70% Pisoni Vineyards, 14% Garys’ Vineyard, and 16% Soberanes Vineyard. As the wine’s medium-ruby hue fills the glass, aromas of crushed strawberry, spiced plum, and underlaying hints of dark berry develop. The Pinot Noir transitions to the palate and shows savory notes of Asian spice, black tea, then gains volume with notes of plush red berries and subtle vanilla—from eleven months of aging in 45% new French oak barrels. The heavy morning fog and bracing coastal winds of the mountainous Santa Lucia Highlands keep this wine fresh and provide acidity that reawakens the palate after each sip. The finish shows youthful and layered, yet distinctly approachable tannin.

SOBERANES VINEYARD SELECTIONS

2022 Lucia | Chardonnay Soberanes Vineyard

The Soberanes Vineyard is proving to be an exceptional Chardonnay site and 2022 brings another example. As expected, the rocky soils stress vines and produce a wine with concentrated aromas of white peach, baked apple, lemon zest, and candied ginger, while an undertone of chalky minerality pays homage to the crushed granite that rests beneath the topsoil. In the cellar, careful sorting, gentle pressing, and diligent lees management during 15 months of aging in French oak barrels have coaxed forth flavors of Bosc pear, lemon curd, and toasted brioche that delight the palate. Though replete with richness and supple fruit notes on the palate, this Chardonnay is unquestionably balanced as it finishes with a distinct coastal salinity and freshness from youthful acidity.

2022 Lucia | Pinot Noir Soberanes Vineyard

Exhibiting the characteristics of Vin de Garde, a wine built to age, the 2022 Lucia Pinot Noir Soberanes Vineyard exudes the confidence of youth as its deep ruby hue stains inside of the glass. Though tightly wound at this point in its life, this wine still blossoms with delicate rose petal, perfumed sandalwood aroma, kirsch and spiced plum. With air, the tight grip of infancy loosens to reveal lifted notes of red cherry and crushed red berries that entice the senses. On the palate, bright acidity brought on by the chilled coastal air cuts a path followed by juicy flavors of black cherry, ripe raspberry and accented with more savory notes of baking spice, dried tea leaves, and hint of umami. An expansive Pinot Noir that is approachable in its youth with fine grained, almost silky tannin, this has a pillar of acidity that suggests long term aging will reward the most patient of palates.

2022 Lucia | Syrah Soberanes Vineyard

Melding shades from deep ruby to dark purple, the 2022 Lucia Syrah Soberanes Vineyard walks the line between the proverbial old and new world styles. New world and the bright sunshine bring forth aromas of brambly dark berries, crushed violets, and graphite while the cool, coastal air from the Pacific Ocean contributes more rustic subtleties of anise, smoked meat, and dried herbs. Exposure to air begins to unfold layers once hidden from the palate. Luscious notes of blackberry preserves, juicy black currant, and licorice root are dense and expansive, while undertones of dark chocolate and freshly ground coffee give a savory backdrop. The immensely structured Syrah still finishes with noble tannins and a distinct mineral edge.

Lucia Chardonnay Soberanes as featured in Wine Spectator
The 2021 Lucia Chardonnay Soberanes Vineyard was selected as one of "the most exciting wines tasted this past year" by the Wine Spectator.

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