Inside WALT

WALT Bytes

HALL & WALT Bytes goes behind-the-scenes to showcase how winemaking is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle. We will feature interviews, new tour and tasting experiences, wine trends, and happenings. There is an endless imagination and maverick-like spirit that lives among everyone who works and visits wine country – WALT Bytes shares a glimpse of that world.

Roasting Pinot Noir Stems


The winemaking process for our Anderson Valley Pinots is a little bit different from our other wines. Each year we gently roast the stems of the Pinot Noir grapes in a chili roaster. We then integrate the roasted stems into the fermentation tanks to impart structure, tannin, and dimension to the wine. We experimented with this process years ago and liked the resulting wine so much that we've continued it year after year.


Happy New Year's 2018!


Vintners Craig & Kathryn Hall sat down to share a message of gratitude for all of the fire-related support received in 2017 as part of their matching campaign, and share details about visiting numerous cities all over the country in 2018.


The Sound of Harvest - “Our Favorite Things”


Vintner Kathryn Hall channels her inner Maria Von Trapp as she shares some of her favorite things with HALL and WALT staffers. Enjoy our version of The Sound of Music’s “My Favorite Things”. We aren’t claiming to be award winning singers here, just award winning winemakers.

Happy New Year!

Craig, Kathryn and all of us from WALT Wines wish you a very happy 2016!

The 12 Days of Christmas

The holidays are about celebrating the great people in your life and for us, that means celebrating the fabulous team at HALL & WALT. Our team collaborated to recreate “The 12 Days of Christmas” song with each department singing a different verse. It’s our way of saying Season's Greetings combining laughter and humor, with a glass of HALL or WALT wine in hand. Cheers to all of you this holiday season and hope yours is filled with similar sentiments.

Episode 3: Perfect Summer Picnic Pairings with Certified Sommelier Ryan Williams

Summer is here and the first thing that comes to mind is hot weather, a summer hat and California beaches. In Napa Valley, to us it means delicious summer picnic baskets filled will all this Valley has to offer. Jen Cain had the chance to sit down with HALL’s Associate Visitor Center Manager and Certified Sommelier Ryan Williams to chat about summer wines and picnic pairings. The duo also share the date for our annual harvest event, Kathryn Hall Release Party, set for September 12 -- So grab a few bottles of wine and head out to enjoy these beautiful summer days – and may those wines be HALL or WALT. Cheers to summer!

Episode 2: HALL Rutherford's Appellation Exploration

In this episode, Jen takes us to the hills of Rutherford for a peek at our lucrative HALL Rutherford winery and underground Chandelier Cave Tasting room. Jen will get insight from lead HALL Rutherford Wine Educator Rob McGuire about the new ‘Appellation Exploration’ offering and learn what the experience all about. Learn how you can get a chance to visit one of Napa’s most spectacular experiences.

Episode 1: Pilot

Hosted by the charismatic Jennifer Cain, our first episode introduces a motley cast of characters from HALL & WALT who embody all facets of winemaking excellence. Featuring a guided tour through the vineyards of Sacrashe. This episode gives you a peek into the Napa Valley lifestyle that few get to live day-to-day.

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@hallwines @waltwines #hallnews

Blog

Our blog features behind-the-scenes details to showcase how winemaking is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle. We will feature interviews, new tour and tasting experiences, wine trends, and happenings. There is an endless imagination and maverick-like spirit that lives among everyone who works and visits wine country – WALT shares a glimpse of that world. 


Robb Report is in: 7 Oregon Pinot Noirs to Drink Right Now

Our 2019 WALT Shea Pinot Noir made the cut and is listed as an exceptional Pinot to enjoy right now! As one of the best Pinot-growing regions in the world, the state of Oregon is home to over 21,000 acres of beautiful vines of this varietal.

Our Shea Pinot Noir wine is single-vineyard sourced from Dick and Deirdre Shea - pioneers of grape growing in Willamette Valley, Oregon. The particular vineyard where our Shea Pinot Noir is sourced from is located in the Yamhill-Carlton sub-appellation of Willamette Valley.

Did you know that the state of Oregon is known for their delicious Pinot Noirs? The Willamette Valley is a gold mine for Pinot Noir grapes – in fact, 80% of the Pinot Noir produced in Oregon is from that area.  

Shea Vineyard's sedimentary soils and unique aspect produce wines of excellent concentration and depth in one of the Pacific Coast's most premier, and extreme, growing regions. The result? An Oregon Pinot Noir that is earthy, distinctive, and a fruit-forward wine of unmatched quality. Read the full Robb Report here. Cheers to Shea!

2019 Shea Pinot Noir with two wine glasses2019 Shea Pinot Noir with two wine glasses

The Perfect Picks for Mom this Mother's Day

We love them, are lucky to have them, and hold them dear. Let's celebrate Mother’s Day with a bottle of WALT Wines, whether during a visit to wine country, at brunch, or right at home. We've curated a few gifting suggestions to ensure Mom feels all the love this Mother’s Day.

WALT ROSÉ 

The season calls for Rosé, and our WALT Rosé stands out for its crispness, lightness, and refreshing character. Crafted using the "saignée" method, where the grape juice rests on the skins briefly to achieve that beautiful pink hue, this bottle is perfect for Mother’s Day brunch.

WALT RoseWALT Rose

WALT CHARDONNAY 

No matter what Mother’s Day festivities you have planned, bring along WALT Sonoma Coast Chardonnay! This delightful Chardonnay pairs perfectly with a wide variety of dishes. Whether you're picnicking in Napa Valley or enjoying a meal at home, this Chardonnay promises satisfaction.

WALT PINOT NOIR 

If Mom's a Pinot lover, then a bottle of WALT Pinot Noir is undoubtedly on her wishlist! Among our selection. We recommend The Corners from our estate vineyard in the Anderson Valley. It boasts luscious fruit flavors accentuated by the vineyard’s unique terroir. The Corners Pinot Noir is an exceptional single-vineyard wine that pairs wonderfully with chocolates or Mom’s favorite dish – a gift she'll cherish as much as we do!

WALT Chardonnay paired with oystersWALT Chardonnay paired with oysters

What You Need to Know about Wines from the Santa Lucia Highlands

Earlier this year, our VP of Winemaking, Megan Gunderson, sat down at our HALL St. Helena winery with The Wine Independent editor, Lisa Perotti-Brown, and presented four WALT wines as part of her annual Santa Lucia Highlands tasting. We’re taking a deep dive look into the Santa Lucia Highlands and our top favorite Pinot’s from there that you’ll be sure to love too! 

Where are the Santa Lucia Highlands?

Just south of San Francisco and the Silicon Valley lies the Santa Lucia Highlands nestled in Monterey County. Home to some of California’s greatest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards, the Santa Lucia Highlands is an AVA that stretches around 15 miles long and 1 mile wide. This region has become highly sought after by winemakers and collectors. A few of the noteworthy vineyards in the region are Pisoni Estate, Garys’ Vineyard, Rosella’s Vineyard, Soberanes, and Sierra Mar. Learn more about or Vineyards here!

Megan states in her interview “The biggest challenge is being based in a winery so far from the vineyards.” With the frequent driving back and forth during Harvest, “Gary Franscioni, owner of Sierra Mar, Rosella’s, and Gary’s vineyards is just an awesome partner in this business. He owns his own trucking company and will prepare sample gallon buckets of clusters and truck them up to us.”

What makes the AVA special?

We may be a bit biased…but aside from being absolutely delicious, we are most proud to tell the story of where our Santa Lucia Highlands wines are from. Our Sierra Mar Pinot Noir comes from Gary and Rosella Franscioni’s Seirra Mar Vineyard and has a blend of clones from the Pisoni heritage selection – reflecting the best of Santa Lucia Highlands! Coming from a rich heritage and dedicated, family-owned vineyards, the Pisoni and Franscioni Families have been excellent partners in helping us produce exquisite wines. 

Perrotti-Brown mentions in the article “It was Gary who saw the potential for viticulture and planted the family’s first vineyards. Rosella’s Vineyard, named after Gary’s wife, was planted in 1996. Garys’ Vineyard, planted in 1997, is a joint venture between Gary Franscioni and Gary Pisoni of Pisoni Vineyards.”

The Santa Lucia Wines are so good – what’s the secret?

Wind! The wind and fog make for the perfect Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes whereas the Cabernet grapes do best in the Napa Valley. In the Santa Lucia Highlands, the colder nights make for a long, cool growing season as well. Location, location – the secret is revealed!

Sierra Mar Pinot NoirSierra Mar Pinot Noir

Say You’ll Be Wine: Valentine’s Day Edition

Wine and Chocolate tasting experience at WALTWine and Chocolate tasting experience at WALT

This Valentine’s Day calls for something sweet and delicious, and as much as we LOVE food and wine pairings, nothing beats chocolate and wine! Like many people, you may have thought about Valentine’s Day plans to spend with your significant other (or the gals!). Take a visit to either our WALT Oxbow or WALT Sonoma tasting rooms for a unique and divine tasting experience where you can enjoy a selection of our Pinot Noir’s paired perfectly with chocolate.

Indulge in the decadent world of wine and chocolate through a tasting experience exploring the senses through taste and aromatics. The Wine and Chocolate tasting is comprised of 4 wines specially paired with 4 chocolates. Our chocolates are from a local leading chocolatier and truly bring out delicious flavors of the wine.

 

Want to take the party elsewhere? Pick up a bottle of our newly released Rita’s Crown Pinot Noir. After not producing this wine for a couple of years, Rita’s Crown is back and will pair perfectly with any Valentine’s Day treats as raspberry and mulberry fruits grace the palate.

Whether you stop by for a tasting or spend the whole day in Wine Country, our wine and chocolate pairing will surely be the cherry on top for your Valentine’s Day date. Cheers to love, Pinot, and chocolate!

Wine and Chocolate tasting experience at WALTWine and Chocolate tasting experience at WALT

Life of a Vine: Mustard Season in Napa Valley

Mustard Season: one of wine country’s  best kept secrets. What is Mustard Season? Anywhere from January through March, you will see miles of yellow mustard plants carpeting rows of vineyards. These mustard flowers are planted between vineyard rows and their peak viewing is typically around February. We are starting to see the first glimpses of mustard season right now, and before we know it, the Napa Valley will be exploding with vibrant yellow mustard blooms.

As you make your way up the valley on either Hwy 29 or Silverado Trail, you’ll see the wineries surrounded by pretty yellow flowers. Not only are the views spectacular, but many events also occur in town to celebrate – check them out here!

History
Back in the 1700s when Spanish colonizers came over, they used mustard as a spice crop. Mustard replenishes the soil with nutrients and protects the vines from erosion and taking up extra groundwater during years with heavier rainfall. Their purpose serves much more than just a photo opp for Instagram!

While Harvest brings a lot of buzz and tourism, the spring season is often overlooked. Come explore and sip your way through Napa Valley these next few months and experience a new perspective and view that is Mustard Season! It’s a beautiful time to visit us, and even try out new activities so you can experience the hype of Mustard Season yourself!

Sangiacomo Vineyard during Mustard SeasonSangiacomo Vineyard during Mustard Season

Mustards in bloom at our Sangiacomo Vineyard.


The Ultimate Gift Giving Guide for Pinot Noir Lovers

The holiday season is here, and we’ve nailed down all your wine gifting needs. Whether it’s finding the gift for the wine connoisseur, the budding oenophile, the happy host, the sophisticated boss — we have all the wine sets you’re looking for. It’s time to pull some corks and take some notes!

WALT Appellation Trio Set
Taste the different Appellations in these lovely Pinots. This trio features wines from three Pinot-perfect appellations and is sure to impress those Pinot Noir fans in your life. This set comes with a gift box included — so it is ready to be gifted to someone special, or enjoyed at your favorite holiday soirée!

The set includes:
2021 La Brisa Pinot Noir
2021 Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir
2022 Blue Jay Pinot Noir

WALT Red & White Set
The best of both worlds — Pinot and Chardonnay! The WALT Red & White Set features some of our favorites, and brings joy to every holiday occasion each year. This is the perfect gift for someone who loves a little variety.

The gift set Includes:
2021 La Brisa Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
2021 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

WALT Ultimate Pinot Noir Set
Go big or go home! This is the ultimate gift for that Pinot Noir lover in your life, featuring six of WALT's finest. It's a Pinot Party!

The set includes:
2021 Sierra Mar Pinot Noir
2021 Bob's Ranch Pinot Noir
2020 Clos Pepe Pinot Noir
2021 Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir
2021 Brown Ranch Pinot Noir
2021 The Corners Pinot Noir

For even more wine gift selections, check out our gifting page and our 2023 Holiday Gift Guide. Wishing you all happy holidays from WALT, cheers!

Walt Holiday Pinot NoirsWalt Holiday Pinot Noirs

Pinot and Thanksgiving Dinner are a classic pairing. Merlot and Zin make it a Party!

It’s that time of year again where you may be wondering what to bring or serve at Thanksgiving dinner. From appetizers, dinner, and desert, there are so many flavors and foods on Thanksgiving Day to pair your wine with, but we got you covered. We’ve picked out 3 wines from each of our three brands, HALL, WALT & BACA that will compliment your Thanksgiving meal perfectly. Your guests will thank you!

Thanksgiving wine setsThanksgiving wine sets

Everyone has their preferences, but we’ve outlined a few pairings with our top 3 Thanksgiving wines to make this holiday tastier. Starting with our 2021 WALT Blue Jay Pinot Noir. This wine pairs with everything on the table. Sip on during a turkey dinner or with a slice of apple pie as this wine brings out beautiful floral aromas, ripe blackberry, and milk chocolate. Smooth and drinkable, you can’t go wrong with Blue Jay this Thanksgiving!

Get the appetizers started and serve up a charcuterie board with a glass of our 2019 BACA Home Base Zinfandel! This wine brings out aromas of ripe plum, brambly blackberry, toasted fennel seeds and spice that layer over a supple and concentrated palate. Pair this with cheese – especially hard cheeses like Manchego or cheddar.

Last but not least in this Thanksgiving wine set is our 2019 HALL Napa Valley Merlot, a classic. This wine pairs with a variety of delicious foods, especially lighter meats and vegetables. This Thanksgiving wine harmonizes beautifully with the rich and savory flavors of all your favorite Thanksgiving dishes. Choose to sip at dinner or hold onto this silky wine all evening long!

Whether it’s at Thanksgiving dinner, Friendsgiving, a gathering large or small, your guests are guaranteed to love all of these Thanksgiving wines. Cheers!


Harvest in Wine Country

WALT Wines has two tasting room locations - one in the heart of Sonoma and the other in Downtown Napa. And while our tasting rooms are magical places to visit year-round, harvest season stands out as one of the best times to visit Sonoma and Napa Valley for both wine enthusiasts and nature lovers. 

When is Harvest Season? 

Harvest Season in wine country is typically August through October. The hot, dry summers ripen the grapes and we start to harvest white wine grapes first (for WALT Chardonnay, for example), and red wine grapes last in late October (including our world-renowned Pinot Noir grapes).   

What does the Grape Harvesting Process look like? 

When our winemaking team decides the time is just right, harvest begins! They are watching the grapes closely in this time period, and carefully monitoring the weather. The grapes must have the perfect balance of acidity and sugar, and because this is so dependent on the weather the first day of harvest season is different year to year.    

Fun Fact: Our grapes are still hand harvested! Workers go through the rows of vineyards and pick grapes bunch by bunch, cutting them off the vine with a sharp blade. Hand harvesting can be a long process, but it allows our skilled workers to pick only the best grapes, and gently drop them into containers -  helping us to produce the highest quality wine as a result.  

Once the grapes are harvested, we bring them to our production facility in St. Helena for sorting. We want only the absolute best quality grapes for our wine, and as they move down a conveyer belt any unripe and damaged grapes will be discarded before moving on to be crushed. We do this using a machine called an optical sorter - a machine that can read the size, shape, color, and organic makeup of each berry in just 30 milliseconds. 

Tips for Making the Most of your Visit During Harvest Season


1. Plan Ahead

Harvest Season is a popular time to visit wine country, so we recommend planning your trip well in advance. We have several exciting wine tasting experiences to choose from, and they do book up fast! You can learn more about WALT's wine tasting experiences here.

2. Explore Sonoma and Napa outside the wineries
Napa and Sonoma have so much to offer this time of year, in addition to the beautiful wineries. There are local farmers markets, art galleries, and hiking and bike trails that can give you a glimpse into the magic of our area.

If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can take an early morning hot air balloon ride to watch the sunrise over the vineyards for a breathtaking view!

3. Attend a Harvest Event
The valley is in full celebration mode this time of year, and there are so many events held to honor harvest and the new vintage of wines. From immersive winemaking, to lavish extravaganzas there is no shortage of things to do - HALL Wines (our sister winery in St. Helena) hosts an annual Kathryn Hall Harvest Celebration in September, for example. It is one of our biggest parties of the year, with live music, amazing food, and exclusive pours of our newest release wines. 


1000 Miles of Pinot Noir - The Anderson Valley AVA

As part of our 1000 miles of Pinot Noir blog series, we would like to highlight the Anderson Valley AVA -  Located about 100 miles north of San Francisco in Mendocino County.  This hidden gem has solidified a reputation as a premier Pinot Noir growing region for several reasons, and WALT Wines is thrilled to produce two distinct wines from Anderson Valley.

Why do we love Anderson Valley for growing Pinot Noir? 

1. Cool-Climate Terroir
The Anderson Valley is surrounded by a coastal mountain range. It can get extremely hot in Mendocino County (TOO hot for Pinot Noir at times), but these mountains allow the cool coastal air to flow into the valley from the Pacific Ocean. We like to think of it as a natural air conditioning effect. Pinot Noir grapes are notoriously fickle, and have a slow and steady maturation process - this “natural air conditioning” from the ocean prevents extreme temperature fluctuation and allows for a longer growing season.

2. Well-Draining Soil  
Anderson Valley’s soil is another reason we love Pinot Noir from this region. The valley floor features gravel and sand, and the hillsides have ancient marine sedimentary rocks. In other words, this type of soil drains well and regulates water retention, encouraging deep roots that create intense, concentrated, and complex Pinot Noir grapes.  

3. Sustainable Farming
Did you know that each of WALT’s estate vineyards are certified sustainable by the California Sustainable Wine Growing Alliance (CSWA)? Meaning we strive to meet rigorous requirements related to eco-friendly winegrowing. We have an immense respect for the land we farm, and love the Anderson Valley grape growing community because they do as well! Many vineyards in Anderson Valley promote biodiversity and organic farming. These eco-friendly practices create wines with a sense of place, reflecting the valley’s unspoiled beauty.  

Because of the unique climate and features, Anderson Valley Pinot Noir is known to be elegant with fresh and vibrant fruit characteristics, typically complemented by earth and floral notes.  

Looking to explore wines from this region?  We recommend WALT’s Blue Jay Pinot Noir. This wine is a staff favorite at an excellent price point - with iconic Anderson Valley notes of black cherry, plum, and dried meadow grasses. 

WALT also produces a single vineyard Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley - The Corners. This wine is sourced from a very unique estate vineyard with steep hillsides and light gravelly soils that create optimal ripening conditions. We love the notes of fresh red cherry, fig, violets with a hint of paprika in this wine.  

Anderson Valley AVA and home to Blue Jay and The Corners vineyardsAnderson Valley AVA and home to Blue Jay and The Corners vineyards

Why our WALT Rosé is perfect for the summer!

Summer is here and it’s the best time to enjoy some of our delicious Rosé  of Pinot Noir poolside. With holidays, summer BBQ’s, and beach vacations, we’ve got you covered with our favorite summer wine this season – let’s dive in!

Rosé all day every day! . Sourced from our premier Pinot vineyards, this juicy, crisp Rosé is our pick for summer festivities. With these hot days coming up, WALT Rosé is the ideal summer wine and can be paired with many delicious meals or enjoyed chilled on its own­‑the perfect way to cool off. Whether you’re visiting our WALT Sonoma or WALT Oxbow locations, lounging by the pool, or having a BBQ with friends and family, we guarantee you will love a crisp glass of Rose. 

At WALT, we make our Rosé with a style of winemaking known as the saignée method. After crushing the grapes, we keep the juice on the grape skins for a short time to obtain the perfect salmon color. The resulting pink juice is separated from the skins and fermented in both oak barrels and stainless-steel tanks. Our technique is unique, and there’s no surprise that it is so tasty! 

With vivid aromas of fresh cut peaches, rose petals and fresh strawberries and cream, WALT Rosé can be enjoyed by itself for a refreshing beverage or paired with a variety or delicious foods! The silky elegance of the palate is balanced with crisp acidity and a hint of minerality.

Rosé pairs nicely with cured meats and cheese, as well as bruschetta – a perfect, elegant appetizer for a hot summer day. For a main dish, Rosé compliments dishes such as seafood such as oysters, scallops, lobster, and even salmon. Another option for those looking for an alternative to seafood is pasta – who doesn’t love a good pasta dish? We love a creamy pasta with asparagus and prosciutto. Fill your glass of Rosé up and cheers!

WALT Rose is perfect for the summer!WALT Rose is perfect for the summer!

How to know Pinot like a Pro

Not all Pinot Noir is the same, and you may notice that you like some Pinots you taste but not others. Rather, you may taste differences in the wines depending on where you are. Here at WALT Wines, we’ve compiled an Appellation Collection and have created Pinot Noir from our desire to capture and unite the unique personalities of two or more vineyards. The result? Carefully crafted, decadent, and compelling wines that are greater than the sum of their parts. We’ve outlined a guide below to walk you through 1,000 miles of Pinot and help you know your Pinot like a Pro!

First and foremost, when you come to visit Napa Valley or Sonoma County, make sure you take a look at an Appellation map! An Appellation is a particular wine region legally marked and protected. Each country has their own geographic borders to determine their wine appellations. For example, “Appellations in the United States are referred to as American Viticultural Areas (AVA). For a wine to get this badge of honor, federal laws state that at least 75% of the grapes used must be from that specific AVA.” (usualwines.com)

Here at WALT Wines, we love Pinot Noir from up and down the West Coast – we don’t discriminate! We source our grapes from 5 Appellations with vineyards located in the most prestigious locations in the Anderson Valley, California’s Central Coast, Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and Sonoma and Napa Counties. Each of these Appellations are unique from their climate to their soil, impacting the flavors of all the Pinot Noir we produce. We broke it down for you so that you can explore each wine and their flavors. Cheers to 1,000 Miles of Pinot!

The next time you visit a WALT Wines tasting room, make sure to try our Pinot Noir from each Appellation – you’ll soon find what you love the most! By knowing where each Pinot is grown, you’ll have a better understanding of your go-to wine, as you’re one step closer to knowing your Pinot like a Pro!

Bob's Ranch Pinot NoirBob's Ranch Pinot Noir

1000 Miles of Pinot Noir - Sonoma County

Did you know that Sonoma County is one of the most prominent wine regions in the world? With 50+ miles along the Pacific Ocean, complex topography of hills and green valleys, the microclimates and soil types create one of the most unique places to grow 60+ grape varieties particularly well. With 19 AVA’s, Sonoma County is the most diverse premium winegrape growing region in the United States. Pack your bags and plan a visit to Wine Country!

There are so many exceptional wineries to visit in the Sonoma County region, you may not know where to start! We aren’t biased but would definitely suggest stopping by our WALT tasting room on the Sonoma Plaza. Not only are you located in the charming plaza for dining and shopping, but our WALT Pinot’s are created at the highest quality.

 A trip to the Sonoma County wine region is the perfect time for Pinot. Great wine starts at the vineyard, and our #1000MilesofPinot showcases our finest vineyard sites. Bob’s Ranch is one of WALT’s most unique estate vineyards which carries influence from the Petaluma Wind Gap creating the perfect climate for Pinot’s. This vineyard located just east of Sebastopol grows our flagship wine, Bob’s Ranch Pinot Noir—a must-try when you visit our WALT Sonoma Plaza tasting room! Read more about our Sonoma County Vineyards HERE!

Bob's Ranch Vineyard located in the heart of Sonoma CountyBob's Ranch Vineyard located in the heart of Sonoma County
Bob's Ranch Pinot NoirBob's Ranch Pinot Noir

Aside from wine tasting, we’ve listed a few fun activities to do on your next trip to Sonoma County:

  • Visit the historic Sonoma Plaza.
  • Explore the California Coast, Goat Rock Beach is a popular spot just south of the Russian River with hiking trails, walking paths and scenic views.
  • It’s time to get moving and do a bike tour of beautiful Sonoma County! Voted the best bike tour by locals, Getaway Adventures will give you an amazing, guided adventure.
  • Sit back and relax at the Flamingo Resort for the ultimate resort & spa experience in the heart of Sonoma’s Wine Country.

A Perfect Date Night with WALT

Want to ditch the restaurant reservations for a romantic night in? We don’t blame you! Date night at home is a great way to enjoy an evening together, without the hassle of going out. WALT Pinot Noir will add depth, balance and complexity to any meal to help create those lasting date night memories at home.

For a romantic dinner inspired by these cozy winter months, we recommend a butternut squash couscous salad paired with a juicy Cornish hen. It’s an incredibly flavorful dish, and has the perfect blend of savory and subtle fruit qualities. A magical combination with our Sonoma County Gap’s Crown Pinot Noir.  

Thank you to Tracci Dare (@daringdarlingbold) for sharing this killer wine and food pairing with us.

Air Fryer Cornish Hen 

Ingredients:
1–2 lb. Cornish hen
Seasonings:
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil 
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. onion powder 
1/2 tsp. garlic powder 
1/2 tsp. paprika
Rosemary sprigs 

Instructions:
Preheat the air fryer to 380º F (medium heat) for 5 minutes. 
Combine the ingredients for seasoning mix in small bowl and set aside. 
Brush both sides of hen with olive oil and mix of seasonings. Place rosemary sprigs in cavity.
Place Cornish hen breast side up in air fryer and cook at 380ºF for 18-20 minutes. Then turn breast side down and cook 10 minutes longer. 
To confirm hen is at optimal internal temperature of 165º F, a meat thermometer is recommended. 
Once done, allow Cornish hen to rest for 5-10 minutes prior to serving. 


Couscous Salad 

Salad Ingredients:
1 cup dry pearl couscous (cooked according to package directions) 
1 1/4 cup chicken broth
6 oz. chopped kale
1 butternut squash prepped and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup halved walnuts (pecans or pepitas are also a great option)
1/3 cup sweet dark cherries (or dried cranberries) 
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled 
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Dressing Ingredients:
2 tbsp. Calivirgin blood-orange olive oil (or extra virgin olive oil) with a ½ tbsp of freshly squeezed orange juice)

2 tbsp. red wine or apple cider vinegar
Dash of salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Instructions
Heat oven to 425°F.
In a mixing bowl, brush cubed butternut squash with EVOO.  Season with salt and pepper and toss until coated thoroughly. Transfer to a non-stick baking sheet. 
Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and flip to cook bottom side of cubes.
Bake an additional 10 minutes until squash is tender.  Remove from oven and set aside to slightly cool. 
In a small mixing bowl whisk together dressing ingredients.  Season with additional salt and pepper if needed. 
In a large mixing bowl combine cooked squash and couscous, sweet dark cherries or dried cranberries, walnuts, chopped kale, and goat cheese. Drizzle with dressing and toss. 
Serve once prepared. You may also refrigerate leftovers for later. 


Plan a trip to Sonoma County

In the second edition of our 1000 Miles of Pinot Series, we have  Sonoma County  - a renowned grape growing region located just 80 miles north of San Francisco. Sonoma County is near and dear to our hearts because this is where WALT Wines started, and our original WALT tasting room is located just right off the Sonoma Plaza. Stop by for wine tasting and visit our tasting room!

Pinot Noir has a long history in Sonoma County. The first Pinot Noir vines were planted in the early 1800’s, but it wasn’t until the mid-20th century that the varietal really took off in the area.  In the 1960’s and 1970’s, a number of pioneering winemakers began experimenting with Pinot Noir, creating a “Pinot Noir renaissance” - and the grape quickly became one of the region’s most important varietals. Today, Pinot Noir represents over 20% of the county’s total vineyard acres (according to sonomacounty.com).  

What makes Sonoma County so special as a grape growing region is its mediterranean climate.  It’s bordered by two mountain ranges, the Mayacamas Mountains to the east and the Sonoma Mountains to the west, which protects it from the wet and cool influence of the Pacific Ocean. The grapes here experience foggy mornings that help to preserve their acidity, but after the fog burns off they see warm, dry afternoons that allows enough sunlight for Pinot Noir to ripen to perfection.

At WALT, we are big fans of Sonoma County because it’s such a large and incredibly diverse region.  It’s actually home to several different distinct growing regions within itself! The microclimates allow us to produce several different Sonoma County Pinot Noirs, each unique because of where the grapes are sourced from. 

Specifically, we source our fruit  from The Sonoma Coast AVA, which is the most coastal region of the County. Our Gap’s Crown, Bob’s Ranch, and La Brisa Pinot Noir are all from the Sonoma Coast region. The Sonoma Coast is known for its cooler climate and rocky soil. The wines often have notes of red fruit, along with earthy, mushroom, and herbal flavors. The acidity in Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is well-balanced, giving the wines a bright, fresh quality that make them particularly food friendly. 

A few other famous AVA’s within Sonoma County are the Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and the Petaluma Gap - each with its own unique characteristics and terroir. Whether you're a seasoned connoisseur or new to the world of wine, Sonoma County Pinot Noir has something for everyone. Here are a few of our recommendations:

WALT’s La Brisa Pinot Noir - Heavy fog and strong winds from the Petaluma Gap help develop vibrant, balanced fruit.  You’ll  find notes of strawberry, cherry, and clove in this rich wine. 
WALT’s Gap’s Crown Pinot Noir - Aged slightly longer in oak, this Sonoma Coast Pinot presents a powerful and concentrated palate that is deeply fruited and focused with spicy oak notes in the finish.
WALT’s Bob’s Ranch Pinot Noir - As our flagship wine, this Pinot hails from our best vineyard blocks at Bob’s Ranch each year. It boasts deep flavors of rhubarb and cola, over undertones of juicy plum and plush raspberry.  Whole cluster fermentation enhances the savory character and tannin structure. 


1000 Miles of Pinot Noir - The Willamette Valley AVA

WALT Wines was born as an ode to Kathryn Walt Hall’s mother and father, Bob and Dolores Walt. Bob was a dedicated grape grower, and his passion and deep reverence for the vines is the foundation for our extensive wine portfolio. 

Our goal is always for our wine to express the characteristics of the unique soils, climates, and farming practices of each distinct vineyard - what we refer to as terroir.  In this blog series, we’ll be diving into each unique AVA we source from, and how it influences WALT’s Pinot Noir. 

First up is the famous  Willamette Valley, located about 50 miles south of Portland, Oregon. This wine region is home to some of the world’s best Pinot Noir, and over 900 wineries!

The Willamette Valley has a cool, mild climate and well-draining soil - ideal for the very fickle Pinot Noir grape. Its temperate growing season allows the fruit to develop flavor and complexity slowly, while still retaining its natural acidity. The region also has a unique soil combination - primarily volcanic, with a mix of clay, loam, and silt. This creates Pinot Noir grapes that are bursting with flavor. Because of this, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir is known for its bright fruit and refined elegance. 

We love the complex flavor profiles we’re able to create from our Willamette Valley fruit, sourced from Dick and Deirdre Shea who are pioneers of this grape growing region. In our Willamette Valley Pinot Noir (aptly named Shea Vineyard after the family), you’ll find notes of strawberry, rose petal and ruby grapefruit layered with earthy and spicy notes like baking spices. 

Overall, the Willamette Valley is a world-class growing region, known for its exceptional Pinot Noir wines. If you’re a fan of Pinot Noir, or if you are simply looking for a high-quality red wine, be sure to try a bottle of WALT’s Willamette Valley Pinot Noir - the highly rated Shea Vineyard.


When to Open a Bottle of Pinot Noir: What you need to know about Aging Wine

Tips for Storing Pinot Noir

  • Temperature also plays a role in the aging process. A rule of thumb is that for Pinot Noir, it is best to store in a cool, dry place at 55 degrees Fahrenheit. No wine fridge? No problem. Although it is highly recommended, make sure that your bottle of Pinot is placed in dry, quiet, dark area. These factors can impact the aging process of your wine and can change the acids in it.

The most puzzling aspect of wine is determining which bottles to age and when to open them. The best time to age your wine is subjective and comes with preferences, but we’ve outlined a few of our recommendations to enjoy your WALT Pinot Noir to the fullest.

  • When it comes to Pinot Noir, it can be enjoyed best when aged 1-4 years. Since it is a lighter red than Cabernet Sauvignon, itf doesn’t necessarily need too many years to age.
  • For lighter wines like Chardonnay, it doesn’t need to age as long as the red wines. A good rule of thumb is about 1-3 years!
  • You just purchased a nice bottle of Pinot, and plan on drinking it in a few months. We’d recommend storing in a dedicated wine storage fridge. However, if you plan on enjoying your bottle sooner, no special storage is needed – cheers!
  • How long does Pinot Noir last in the fridge? Use an airtight seal for preserving your wine in the fridge – we like a silicone bottle stopper. Since the cork is porous and can allow for oxygen to enter, a good bottle stopper will help preserve the flavors of your wine. Before serving, let your Pinot warm up slightly, and enjoy!

Roasting Pinot Noir Stems

The winemaking process for our Anderson Valley Pinots is a little bit different from our other wines. Each year we gently roast the stems of the Pinot Noir grapes in a chili roaster. We then integrate the roasted stems into the fermentation tanks to impart structure, tannin, and dimension to the wine. We experimented with this process years ago and liked the resulting wine so much that we've continued it year after year.


Happy New Year!

Vintners Craig & Kathryn Hall sat down to share a message of gratitude for all of the fire-related support received in 2017 as part of their matching campaign, and share details about visiting numerous cities all over the country in 2018.

The Sound of Harvest - "Our Favorite Things"

Vintner Kathryn Hall channels her inner Maria Von Trapp as she shares some of her favorite things with HALL and WALT staffers. Enjoy our version of The Sound of Music’s "My Favorite Things". We aren’t claiming to be award winning singers here, just award winning wine makers.




I am 21+ years old.