Black Kite made its name in small lot Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from its Anderson Valley estate, and then branched out to great vineyards in Sonoma Coast and Santa Lucia Highlands.
It’s rare to find a producer that is able to maintain a high level of quality across a broad spectrum of vineyard sites and appellations without having a “signature style” that dominates them. This is a testament to the sites they’ve selected, their awesome farming and winemaker Jeff Gaffner’s amazing touch in bringing out the soul of the wine.
These are not imitations of Burgundy; these are true California wines and a perfect example of how elegant California Pinot Noir can be.
Anderson Valley Appellation
Anderson Valley is located in Mendocino County, between 10 and 20 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean and about a two hour drive north of San Francisco. The valley cuts laterally through the Coastal Range at 38 degrees latitude. It is 15 miles long, stretching northwest, surrounded by dense forests on the southwestern side and grassy hills to the north and east. The valley is heavily influenced by the cool marine air, with fog frequently snaking its way up the Navarro River from the Pacific Ocean. The result is a wide diurnal range, with the daily low temperatures often 40 to 50 degrees lower than the daily highs. Anderson Valley also experiences long Indian summers toward the end of the growing season, with warm days and cool evenings. The valley feels remote and takes some effort to get to. However, once there, the visitor is rewarded by a lovely, bucolic and unspoiled setting. There are three small towns in Anderson Valley, Boonville, Philo and Navarro. Our estate vineyard, Kite’s Rest, is located west of Philo at the end of an old logging road which runs westward following the Navarro River on the final leg of its journey to the Pacific Ocean.
“Kite’s Rest is quite simply, one of the most spectacular pinot noir vineyards in the new world.”
Kite’s Rest Vineyard is situated on a 40 acre parcel in Anderson Valley’s western end, called the “Deep End”. It is about 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Here our Pinot Noir vines start from the Navarro River and rise up 400 feet to meet the towering coast redwoods. These are the tallest trees on earth at more than 320 feet, can live for 2,000 years and are found only in this unique coastal environment. The coast redwoods like the region’s cool climate just as much as the Pinot Noir grape. The cool climate is enhanced for our grapes by our vineyard’s north-facing exposure, providing us with even greater hang time that is normal in Anderson Valley. As a result, our Pinot Noir grapes ripen slowly and evenly, yielding generous and complex fruit flavors as well as acid balance.
Our block-specific row orientation (visible in the aerial photo below) mirrors the slope of the land, which maximizes sun exposure, maintains natural soil profiles and provides us with better access to the vines for lower impact farming. Canopy management is critical for proper sun exposure, while leaf pulling maintains good air flow and reduces the need for spraying and crop thinning throughout the growing season. It also concentrates flavors and ensures full ripening of the grapes.