Pixel Tracker

Monday, March 25 , 2019, 10:16 am | Partly Cloudy 58º


Laurie Jervis: Sta. Rita Hills’ Clos Pepe Vineyards Leased to St. Helena’s Walt Wines

Purchased as a horse ranch in 1994 by Steve and Cathy Pepe, the Clos Pepe vineyard was planted in 1996 to four acres of chardonnay, and in 1998 to 25 acres of pinot.
Purchased as a horse ranch in 1994 by Steve and Cathy Pepe, the Clos Pepe vineyard was planted in 1996 to four acres of chardonnay, and in 1998 to 25 acres of pinot. (Laurie Jervis / Noozhawk file photo)

Clos Pepe Vineyards, a pioneer in the Sta. Rita Hills appellation of Santa Barbara County, has signed a long-term partnership with Walt Wines, Clos Pepe owner Steve Pepe confirmed Thursday.

Kathryn Hall produces two wine labels — Kathryn Hall Wines, her namesake label, and Walt Wines — and has purchased pinot noir grapes from Clos Pepe for Walt for five years, according to Walt Wines president Mike Reynolds.

“The wines demonstrate a unique combination of elegance and concentration, and we are thrilled to have a deeper connection with this vineyard for years to come,” Reynolds said.

Kathryn Hall also buys grapes from Rita’s Crown Vineyard, also in the Sta. Rita Hills, according to the Hall Wines website.

“My wife, Cathy, and I have enjoyed our two decades of producing pinot noir in the Santa Rita Hills,” Pepe said in a news release. “We have decided to scale down our lifestyle after dedicating over 20-plus years to crafting pinot noir.

“We are thrilled to be able to work with the talented team at Walt and plan to continue live on the property and sell Clos Pepe wines for years to come.”

Cathy’s Pepe’s son, Wes Hagen, has been actively involved with the operation since day one as the vineyard manager and head winemaker, Pepe said.

During his years producing the Clos Pepe wines, Hagen also developed a national reputation as a wine educator, and currently teaches a food and wine pairing class at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria. Hagen was also one of the principal draftspeople of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, as well as the Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara and Ballard Canyon AVAs.

Owned by Kathryn Walt Hall and her husband, Craig, Walt Wines was named to honor Kathryn’s parents, Bob and Dolores Walt, who were grape growers in Mendocino County and inspired Kathryn’s passion for vineyards and vine.

The winemakers for Walt Wines are Steve Leveque and Megan Gunderson, who combine elements of old-world winemaking style with new age technology, according to the news release.

Purchased as a horse ranch in 1994 by Steve and Cathy Pepe, Clos Pepe vineyard was planted in 1996 to four acres of chardonnay, and in 1998 to 25 acres of pinot. Both the Clos Pepe label and the vineyard, which provides grapes to some of California’s top winemakers, have earned a top-notch following in the U.S. wine industry.

The pinot noir clones planted are 115, Pommard 4, 667 and 777, and for chardonnay, Wente and Dijon 76.

According to a fact sheet on www.clospepe.com, the other producers who source pinot noir from the vineyard include Hall Wines, Siduri Wines of Sonoma (recently purchased by Kendall Jackson), Lompoc’s Arcadian Winery and Loring Wine Company, and A.P. Vin of San Francisco. Those who source chardonnay are Liquid Farm of Buellton and Arcadian.

It was not clear Thursday if those who currently source grapes from Clos Pepe will still get fruit, with the news release stating only that "relationships with select buyers of Clos Pepe pinot noir and chardonnay will continue."

Producers who in the past have sourced grapes from Clos Pepe include Au Bon Climat, Hitching Post, Ojai Vineyard, Ken Brown Wines, Longoria Wines, Babcock Winery, Flying Goat, Small and Tall, Conarium and Wan Fiore Project, according to the website.

Hagen produces a second label, Axis Mundi Wines, which includes grenache, syrah and a rosé.

Hall and her family have been grape growers in Redwood Valley, Mendocino County, since 1972. The Walt family owns 63 acres of cabernet sauvignon, Gamay, zinfandel and sauvignon blanc and has sold grapes to such wineries as Fetzer, Parducci and Beringer.

Hall managed the family vineyard from 1982 to 1992. During this time she produced sauvignon blanc and cabernet sauvignon under the Walt Vineyards’ label.

Hall began her public career as assistant city attorney in Berkeley. Later she joined Safeway Stores, where she was responsible for developing and administering one of the nation’s first and largest affirmative action programs. Subsequently she worked as an attorney and businesswoman in Dallas, Texas, where she was president of an inner city development company and partner of Hall Financial Group Inc.

Long committed to social issues, Kathryn has served on numerous nonprofit and institutional boards, addressing issues related to social care and mental health. She co-founded the North Texas Food Bank, served on the U.S. House of Representatives Hunger Advisory Committee and was the director/vice president of the Texas Mental Health Association. She also has served on the National Advisory Council for Violence Against Women and as a trustee of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

From December 1997 to July 2001, Hall served as the U.S. ambassador to Austria. During her term as ambassador, she worked hard to promote American wine in Austria and Europe. Since her return to America, she has resumed her role as proprietor of Kathryn Hall Vineyards. Continuing upon her experience promoting American agriculture in Austria, in September 2001 she was appointed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for international trade.

Hall earned an A.B. in economics from the University of California-Berkeley and a J.D. from the University of California Hastings College of Law. She is married to Craig Hall and is the mother of two children. She speaks French and German.

— Laurie Jervis blogs about wine at www.centralcoastwinepress.com, tweets at @lauriejervis and can be reached via [email protected]. The opinions expressed are her own.

Support Noozhawk Today!

Our professional journalists work tirelessly to report on local news so you can be more informed and engaged in your community. This quality, local reporting is free for you to read and share, but it's not free to produce.

You count on us to deliver timely, relevant local news, 24/7. Can we count on you to invest in our newsroom and help secure its future?

We provide special member benefits to show how much we appreciate your support.

I would like give...
Great! You're joining as a Red-Tailed Hawk!
  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >

Meet Your Realtor Sponsored by Village Properties

Photo of Dianne and Brianna Johnson
Dianne and Brianna Johnson
"We are committed to making our clients feel special by providing the concierge level service they deserve."

Full Profile >