Our family began hand making small lots of wine in Sonoma County in 1989, but our history in the industry started in 1973 when Marty took a job in the lab at Rodney Strong Vineyards. After five years as a member of the winemaking staff, Marty left to co-found Vinquiry in Healdsburg. Our wine service laboratory, consulting and specialty winemaking products provided critical support to the surge of growth in the wine industry.
In 1989, Marty and Gary acted on their interest in winemaking and started the Bannister label, with a focus on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel. Brook was involved in harvest and critical points in the process when he wasn’t busy in school. At present, he and Marty collaborate on the wine making and the management of the business.
“Hand making single vineyard wines since 1989″
Our passion for winemaking and Pinot Noir began in the 1980’s when just a handful of growers and makers were examining the climates, soils, and techniques that would bring out the full and incredible potential of this varietal. We were able to develop winery-grower relationships and begin making Pinot Noir from some of the finest vineyards in California. Hand-making wines from such unique fruit led us to a style and belief. It also led to great wines. After 29 years, and counting, of this journey reaching into the far corners of Sonoma County, we are still learning, asking questions and marveling at the possibilities at one of the great wine producing regions of the world.
For us, using exceptional fruit from ideally suited locations is the genesis of low intervention winemaking – guiding what the season and the grower and have provided into finished wine. We strive to make wines that are full flavored, yet balanced in alcohol and tannin. We love acidity, structure and the herbaceous qualities that only come from the wilder edges of the Sonoma Coast.
As far as Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is concerned, we’re in a solid run of good and great vintages going back to 2012. The 2015 harvest was easily the most unique of all of these. Inconsistent weather in May of 2015 led to low flower-set on the clusters – Yields were down thirty to forty percent. The physical attributes of the small crop were undersized berries, many without seeds, and the skins were thick. This meant an unusual skin to juice ratio favoring skins. Not only did the ’15 crop look unique in the vineyard, but you’ll also see it in the glass as well – deeply colored, tannin-rich Pinot Noir. The phenolic fingerprint in these Pinots was unusually high, and yet they’ve become velvety tannins in the bottle, with great structure and weight on the palate.