RAEN was a winery that was on my radar for a couple of months. I’d stumbled upon a bottle at the wine store and picked it up because it was pricier and because it was Sonoma Coast. I’m fairly certain it was their 2017 Sonoma Coast Royal St Robert Cuvee. And I wasn’t overly impressed. I then dined at Saison last fall and now that I look at the menu, I see that I was served the exact same wine – and vintage! And I loved it. I guess it was my mood or the food or some other factor.
Anyway, RAEN (pronounced like “rain”) made the list. What I didn’t know about RAEN until doing a bit more research is that two of Robert Mondavi’s grandsons decided they wanted to make Pinot Noir. With a backing and knowledge of the Mondavi family, how can you go wrong? But they wanted to make Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. And that’s what they did! They found some Sonoma Coast growers and leased some acreage and were off and running.
Their wine is made in Sebastapol along with Pax. They have a nice network of winemakers who help and support each other. They make extremely limited production wines. Fewer than 3000 cases. And they now make a Chardonnay, too, that is quite nice!
I don’t really want to call it “My Visit” because there’s not much to visit. They’re new and small. Their tastings are held in the Vintage House hotel in St. Helena. When I walked in the front door, I had a feeling that Emily – the person I’d made my reservation with and had spoken to – was sitting in the lobby waiting for me. And, I was right. So, we headed upstairs to a small seating area and I tasted through all four of their current releases!
I don’t have many photos because there’s not much to share. There’s wine and a hotel lobby. Ha Ha! But, it doesn’t matter the setting. They have snazzy almost tech sheets with tasting notes. They actually look identical to the labels on the bottles with tasting notes on the back. Here’s a fun tip – if you’re ever popping the cork on a bottle of RAEN, look at the cork! Each one is unique to that particular bottling and vintage. You’ll find the time the grapes were picked along with the cycle of the moon. Maybe you can use that as a trick at a restaurant – take the cork, quickly look at the side, sniff it, and declare you can tell from the scent those details!
The guys started out doing a partial cluster fermentation and have worked up to whole cluster. I believe 2017 was their first vintage of 100% whole cluster. Tip for my wine girlfriends who – like me – thought they hated whole cluster pinots! I think we were trying the wrong pinots. I discovered this a little while ago as so many are whole cluster but don’t market that piece of info. These were delicious. Whatever it was that made us not like whole cluster had something else that caused us to not like it!
My favorite of the wines was hands down the 2018 Sea Field Pinot Noir from the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA. I love the Fort Ross-Seaview wines. If you’re not familiar with it, don’t worry – it’s a pretty new AVA that was only approved in 2012.
Anyway, you’ll be lucky to get your hands on one of their wines. Only the Sonoma Coast Royal St Robert Cuvee makes it out into the market. I’m honestly surprised that I even found it in a wine store where I live. The rest of their wines are only sold to their allocation list members. I’m excited to see these guys build this label in the future! They have plans to buy a vineyard property, start growing estate fruit, and build their own winery. It’ll be fun to watch!
They do offer tastings by appointment. I didn’t have to trick anyone or beg. If you’re in town, schedule a tasting with Emily!