A bit of Burgundy in the Russian River Valley
Kistler is undeniably one of the world’s greatest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir producers. The winery was established in 1978, when Steve Kistler and Mark Bixler planted the 30-acre Kistler Vineyard at 1750 feet on the Sonoma side of the Mayacamas Mountains. The first vintage was 1979 — using fruit purchased from Warren Dutton. Then, in 1992, a new, larger winery was built at their vineyard on Vine Hill Rd in the Russian River Valley.
In addition to estate vineyards, Kistler has always purchased fruit from a selection of impressive vineyards in Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma Mountain and Carneros. In many cases, Kistler established the reputation of these vineyards, whose names are now famous. Winemaking continues to evolve at Kistler. In the 1980s & ‘90s, heritage clones of Chardonnay (Wente) & Pinot Noir (Calera, Swan) were propagated and selected to create unique clones for most of the Kistler sites. In the early 2000s, whole-cluster pressing, native yeasts, minimal lees stirring, and less new oak were techniques adopted to preserve aromatics and achieve a fresher style. Eliminating fining and filtration from the process has added complexity.
By 2006, lower sugar levels at harvest were desired, leading to lower alcohol. This is highly thoughtful, meticulous winemaking, intended to express the terroir of individual sites. The wines, both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, continue to progress toward a more complex, age-worthy form, showing impressive finesse and energy. The 2013 Pinot Noir is a cuvée, the fruit for which is sourced from a number of Kistler’s prestigious vineyards.