Clos Pepe Vineyard was purchased by Steve and Cathy Pepe in 1994 as a horse ranch, and established the 9th vineyard in what would become the Sta.
Rita Hills AVA. Specializing in cool-climate, small production, craft-based Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Clos Pepe is now recognized as a leader in local and national wine culture, wine education and providing fruit to some of the best winemakers in California.
The Italians say, 'Il vino e' la Poesia della Terra.'
Wine is the poetry of the earth. There is nothing that can obfuscate Pinot Noir's ability to speak of a time and place. Of every plant on earth, Pinot Noir is unique in its ability to show every angle of a vintage, every silt particle in the soil, and every drop of morning dew that wet its leaves. Tea, coffee, white truffles—these can tell a story and confound us with their deliciousness, but the uncontested Queen of Natural Complexity must be Pinot Noir. We anticipate each vintage with a proper mix of anxiety and hope, knowing Mother Nature and the Sta. Rita Hills have a plan that will allow time and effort to fill a glass.
Where the Old World Meets the New
Great wine is born, not made.
The great wines of the world wear their provenance proudly and show a regional character and quality that is impossible to imitate. The world's most vaunted bottles all have one thing in common: they are grown on the edge of where ripeness is achieved. Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Barolo — these are all areas where getting the fruit ripe is not assured.
In most of California ripeness is easy to achieve.
The goal becomes 'hang time', allowing the fruit to hang on the vine as long as possible to develop flavor, color and character. Clos Pepe, and the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, are stuck between these two archetypes: we are one of the coolest areas on earth where wine grapes can be ripened, but we have tons of California sunshine and a relatively dry September and October for extended hang time and later harvest.
We love the complexity and age-worthiness of the Old World, but claim our purely New World heritage.
Making wines that have the fruit and impact of the New World, with the mineral structure and acidity of the greatest Old World bottles, gives us enviable base ingredients for making some of the most profound cool-climate wine in the world.
These wines can be drunk at release when they're young and fruity (0-3 years)
as the primary fruit begins to sublimate (4-7 years), or when fully mature like the greatest Grand Cru Burgundies (7-20 years). The Santa Rita Hills and Clos Pepe make a wine for every table, every plate and every palate.
Old English baby doll sheep that helped to turn the cover crop planted during the winter into fertilizer.
Since we have leased the vineyard, the sheep have relocated to Napa Valley where they tend Chenin Blanc vines along HWY 29.
The Santa Rita Hills produce many styles of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay — wines that will excite every palate and match with almost any food.
The Chardonnays are naturally lean
mineral-laden and racy, but with more winemaking influence can exhibit richness and roundness: new oak, malolactic treatment, extended barrel aging. When young, the wines have austere structure and bright apple fruit with hints of tropical fruit and peach. Clos Pepe Chardonnay is crafted for both early enjoyment as well as cellaring for a decade or more. As the wines age they gain a hazelnut and mineral complexity, quite similar to Premier Cru Chablis and White Burgundy from great vintages. Try young Clos Pepe Chardonnays with oysters, fried chicken or barbecue. Older vintages can be enjoyed with sand dabs in a lemon cream sauce, firm cheeses, cream-based soups, or any kind of delicate seafood preparation. Clos Pepe Chardonnay seems to like 3-5 years from vintage date to fully integrate, and can last up to 10-12 years for those that appreciate full maturity and a bit of oxidative aromas and flavor.
Pinot Noirs from Clos Pepe can range from delicate and earthy to dense
purple, full-bodied Pinots that are among the darkest and richest on the planet. The Pinot Noirs from Clos Pepe also age wonderfully, but can also be drunk early in their life. Rich, dark vintages like 2002, 2003 and 2010 hold their baby-fat (primary fruit and richness) for 5-7 years and then begin mellowing slowly. Restrained, balanced wines like 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011 age very similarly to Premier or even Grand Cru red Burgundy — being primary and juicy from release to 5-7 years old, and then slowly unfolding with minerality and aromas of dried flowers and earthy forest floor for another 5 years. Young Clos Pepe Pinot Noirs match beautifully with strong cheeses, duck confit, pork loin, lean steaks, venison with reduction, or almost anything that you can put on a plate. As the wine matures and loses some baby fat, try more delicate dishes and add Morel or Chanterelle mushrooms. A fully mature Clos Pepe Pinot Noir matches very well with simple presentations of salmon, game (especially quail and pheasant), and other light dishes that will not dominate the wine's delicate complexity.
each vintage of Clos Pepe Estate Wine featured a new hand drawn sketch that focused on a different element of the property. The 2011 art will now be used for all future vintages.
It all starts in the vineyard.
The California Central Coast wind, fog, low temperatures and cool summer allow us to produce wines unlike any in the world.
The East-West valleys of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA pull cold air off the Pacific, and our sea-bed soils intensely limit vigor.
Small vines, small clusters, small berries, and thick skins give us the perfect storm for producing exceptional Pinot Noirs
from elegant to hefty; from young, winking fruit-bombs to delicate and earthy wines that are wisened and complex from experience in the cellar.
Clos Pepe, from 1998-2014, provided grapes to some of the best wineries in California.
Napa and Sonoma pinot and chardonnay producers such as Walt (Hall Wines), Siduri / Novy Wines, AP Vin all sourced fruit from Clos Pepe, as did a number of Central Coast producers (both past and present) such as Liquid Farm, Arcadian, Au Bon Climat, Hitching Post, Ojai Vineyard, Ken Brown Wines, Longoria Wines, Babcock Winery, Loring Wine Company, Flying Goat, Small and Tall, Conarium and Wan Fiore Project.
Clos Pepe Vineyards is currently being leased to Hall/Walt Wines in Saint Helena, CA.
They are responsible for farming the vineyard and providing fruit to the winemaking producers who are still under contract.
Taste Clos Pepe
There are a few things you can't learn from staring at your phone in a cubicle.
While there's something to be said about evaluating a bottle strictly by what shows in the glass, there are certain patterns of experience that lead lovers of wine to visit the area where their favorite wines are grown and fermented.
Wine is certainly contextual.
Feeling the wind on your face, watching the fog break to cool sunshine, letting some soil run through your fingers — this is why we visit wine country. For those who are the "seekers," those that need to know more than the back of a bottle can provide, these are the people we hope to attract to our unique and immersive two hour tour and tasting experience. You will never see wine in the same way, guaranteed.
You can taste our wine at Taste of Sta. Rita Hills in Lompoc
but if you've graduated to the upper echelons of wine-geekitude, perhaps it is time to email us and set up a 10:30 am appointment with Andrew and Clos Pepe.
disclaimer:pricing and availability subject to change.
Specializing in cool-climate, small production, craft-based Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Clos Pepe is now recognized as a leader in local and national wine culture, wine education and providing fruit to some of the best winemakers in California.