Pioneering Santa Barbara-based vintners Stephen and Cathy Pepe have announced that they have entered into a long-term partnership with WALT Wines, a St. Helena-based specialist in vineyard specific Pinot Noir from California and Oregon. The 29-acre winery and vineyard was founded in 1994 on Highway 246, just 8 miles east of Lompoc, CA.
“My wife Cathy and I have enjoyed our two decades of producing Pinot Noir in the Santa Rita Hills,” says vintner Stephen Pepe. ”We have decided to scale down our lifestyle after dedicating over 20+ years in 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.” Cathys son, Wes Hagen, has been actively involved with the operation since day one as the vineyard manager and head winemaker.
When the Pepe family arrived in Lompoc in 1994, the Santa Rita Hills was just emerging as a premier appellation for Pinot Noir. Steve, Cathy and Wes’s efforts helped define Pinot Noir from the Santa Rita Hills, and partially due to their success, other prominent vineyards have earned notable vineyard success in the area. During this time, Wes developed a national reputation as a prominent winemaker and wine educator. Wes was also one of the principal draftspersons of the Sta. Rita Hills AVA as well as two other AVAs in Santa Barbara County.
”We have been producing Pinot Noir from the Clos Pepe Vineyard for the past five vintages,” says WALT 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.”
The Clos Pepe vineyard consists of 29 acres of sustainable Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines producing some of the finest fruit and wine in the world. Sustainably farmed with low yields and no herbicide or insecticide, the Close Pepe vineyard is exposed to wind and fog and features small vines and clusters. The site includes 25 planted acres of Pinot Noir as well as 4 planted acres of Chardonnay. Relationships with select buyers of Clos Pepe Pinot Noir and Chardonnay will continue.
ABOUT CLOS PEPE ESTATE:
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 Close Pepe Estate is located at 4777 East Highway 246 in Lompoc, CA 93436. For more information, please visit www.clospepecom, or by calling 805-735-2196.
ABOUT WALT WINES:
WALT specializes in premier, small-lot Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from some of the most coveted vineyards along the Pacific Coast, Central Coast, Sonoma County, and Anderson Valley in California and Willamette Valley, Oregon. WALTs philosophy of non-interventionist winemaking allows our winemakers to create expressive wines that reflect the signature personality of each growing region. Owned by Kathryn Walt Hall and her husband Craig, the winery was named to honor Kathryns parents, Bob and Dolores Walt, who were grape growers in Mendocino County and inspired Kathryns passion for vineyards and vine. For the wine to reflect the vineyards terroir, WALT winemakers Steve Leveque and Megan Gunderson combine elements of old-world winemaking style with new age technology, letting nature take its course through the winemaking process with as little human intervention as possible. WALT, a sister brand to the acclaimed HALL Wines in Napa Valley, has consistently earned praise by industry critics with over 40 wines being rated 90 points and above. The WALT Tasting Room opened in 2011 and is located at the Sonoma Plaza in Sonoma, CA, and is open to the public. For more information, please visit www.waltwines.com or by calling (707) 933-4440.