The first wine from Ancient Oak Cellars was the Siebert Ranch Pinot Noir, made from grapes on Ken & Melissa Siebert’s family vineyard in the Russian River Valley. We have read in press how finicky Pinot Noir is – it being lamented as “the heartbreak grape” for how difficult it is to grow and make into good wine. Well, the Siebert family and Ancient Oak Cellars never knew anything else.
As it happens, it is not so hard to grow Pinot Noir, if you are in the right place. Ancient Oak Cellars started with just a couple hundred cases, then a thousand the following year, adding some Zinfandel from Pagnano Vineyard, and some Russian River Pinot Noir from other growers, and Russian River Chardonnay. In 2012, they added the Cabernet, Cab Franc, and Merlot on Sonoma Mountain. In 2014, winemaker Greg La Follette joined the team, and the rest is history!
The team at Ancient Oak Cellars strives to make a balanced wine that pairs well with food, that will continue to surprise and interest you with a long-layered finish, and that reflects the vineyards where the grapes were grown. The grapes, from their own vineyard and several other small, sustainably farmed family vineyards in the Russian River Valley, were harvested by hand in the cool morning air.
The wines made at Ancient Oak Cellars come from estate vineyards that they farm themselves, or are farmed under their control. All of their wines are made in small lots, hand-sorted, punched down by hand, and barreled in oak barriques from select coopers. The experts at Ancient Oak Cellars taste through every barrel monthly. As a result, production is limited and allocated.
Russian River Valley, located in the middle of Sonoma County, California, is popularly known as a prime wine region. This AVA’s climate – cool and foggy – is ideal for some of the highest quality pinot noir and chardonnay wines.
Ancient Oak Cellars only sources grapes from vineyards that their experts feel have the potential to be worthy of single-vineyard designation. Sometimes, the wine is such good quality that it is hard to make the cut at time of barrel selection for final blending of wines. Just about all the barrels are highly deserving. Other times, they may decide that an entire vintage from a given vineyard is not quite good enough to be presented as a single-vineyard offering. In such times, Ancient Oak Cellars may declassify the entire lot and put it in with the Appellation Series. After a number of years’ experience with a given vineyard, when it has proven itself with consistently superior wines, they may create a Reserve Series wine from those barrels that are most distinctive.
It is medium-bodied, with bright red berry and earth flavors, scents of red currants, cranberry sauce, chocolate-covered cherries, and hints of wild thyme and truffles. It finishes on a perfumed note framed by fresh, fine-grained tannins.
On the nose, this Ancient Oaks Pinot Noir contains fragrances of red currants, cranberry sauce, chocolate-covered cherries, and hints of wild thyme and truffles. On the palate, this wine is medium-bodied, and contains bright, focused fruit with notes of strawberry, then cola and spice, a rich. Note a silky mouthfeel, and a clean finish. This pinot pairs well with duck, goose, and fish.
Siebert Ranch, the main vineyard for Ancient Oak Cellars, was completely destroyed by a fire in 2017. They have been working tirelessly to replant this area to return it to its former glory. And with that, Ancient Oak Cellars has checked off two of my favorite qualities: a dedicated and enduring attitude in the face of adversity, and fantastic wine.