Pinotage History

2010-Karma-choco-cork

Pinotage is a very rare grape in California as there are only appropriately 25 acres planted in the whole state.  The 2010 Grape Crush Report showed 105 tons crushed of Pinotage, and since it is grown in the warmer regions of California (Lodi), we think that the 25 acres figure is a generous estimate.

In 2010, we grafted Pinotage onto 500 of their existing Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot plants in their vineyard, which is approximately 3 acres.  This year, we are grafting Pinotage onto our existing Pinot Noir vines and will become the only vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains Appellation to grow only Pinotage grapes.

Our sources of the Pinotage grapes are our estate vineyard, Amorosa Vineyard in Lodi,  Karma Vineyard in Lodi, and Sierra Ridge Vineyard in Sutterville, California. Our 2008 Pinotage has won several Gold medals, including a Double Gold.  The 2009 Pinotage has won a number of Gold medals and a Platinum medal, including a Best of Class at the 2011 Indy International Wine Competition.

Our 2010 Amorosa Pinotage has won a Platinum and 10 Gold medals.  It was also selected in the Food and Beverage World’s Wine Competition as the third best wine in the other red wine category.  Our 2010 Karma Vineyard Pinotage has won two Gold medals to date.  In 2012, we bottled approximately 25 cases of 2011 Estate Pinotage, and it sold out immediately.  We harvested approximately 2 tons of Estate Pinotage in 2012, which will be bottled in August of 2013.

There have been a number of articles written about our Pinotage. We are most proud, though, of an article written by Peter May, entitled Christmas Pinotages, in which he discusses Loma Prieta Winery’s 2009 Pinotage. Mr. May wrote the article for The Pinotage Club, a website that is actually for South African Pinotage. Peter May also wrote a book on Pinotage, which I believe is the only real book dealing with this unique grape.

In the summer of 2011 we visited South Africa, where we were treated like royalty by the South African Pinotage Society, primarily by Beyers Truter, who was the Chairman of that organization. After leaving South Africa, we traveled to London where we met with Peter May, the author of the article. We dropped off bottles of Loma Prieta Winery’s Pinotage for him to taste, which resulted in his Christmas Pinotages article.

Pinotage is a grape that was developed in South Africa around 1925. A Pinot Noir was  cross-pollinated with Cinsaut (also known as Hermitage), and obviously got its current name from its parents. Pinotage was not commercially produced until 1961. Due to the terrible problems with Apartheid, there was an international boycott against most South African wines until 1990s.

The connection between Pinotage and Loma Prieta Winery is an interesting one in that the wine consultant for our winery also worked as a wine consultant for Vino Con Brio in Lodi, California, which had 4 acres of Pinotage, which is how we got involved in making Pinotage.

Currently, we are receiving Pinotage grapes from three vineyards besides our estate vineyard.  In 2012,we received 25 tons, we know of no other winery that produces Pinotage from more than one vineyard.  We believe that we are the largest purchaser of Pinotage grapes in North America.

If you look at the number of medals that our 2008, 2009, and 2010 Pinotages have won, we have no doubt that many of the judges in those wine competitions had never before tasted domestic Pinotage, due to its rarity!

In 2010, Loma Prieta Winery started the only Pinotage Only Wine Club and membership is growing quite rapidly. We anticipate that many of our vintages will be completely sold out by the end of the year.  We are expanding our Pinotage Only Wine Club to two shipments a year now that we are receiving grapes from four vineyards.

An interesting phenomenon occurs in our winery tasting room on the weekends as we usually offer Pinotage at the end of our tastings while presenting a brief history of the wine. The vast majority of the people who come to our winery have neither heard of Pinotage, nor tasted it. After tasting the wine and learning a bit about its history, many people buy this unique wine.  Generally our Pinotage has been our best seller, despite the fact that our winery also produces several other Gold Medal wines (Merlot, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir).

If you would like more information regarding our winery and wines, please feel free to contact our winery at 408-353-2950 or email us.