Sonoma wine tasting room of HALL St. Helena sister property serves Pinot Noirs from Oregon to California’s Central Coast.
The indoor and outdoor spaces at a Tudor-style 1930s residence just north of Sonoma Plaza provide relaxed settings for tasting the Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs of WALT Wines, sister winery to HALL St. Helena. Tall canary palms shade part of the property, and a double-trunked redwood tree anchors the inviting backyard. Kathryn Hall, who owns WALT Wines with her husband, financier Craig Hall, counts among her happiest childhood memories the time she spent at the Mendocino County vineyard of her grape-growing parents, Dolores and Bob Walt, for whom she named the winery.
HALL’s director of winemaking Megan Gunderson oversees the WALT wines, which include Pinot Noirs from grapes grown as far north as Oregon’s Willamette Valley and as far south as the Santa Rita Hills of the California’s Central Coast – “1,000 Miles of Pinot,” as the winery bills it. Two Sonoma County subappellations, the Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley, are also represented, along with the Anderson Valley of Mendocino County. The goal is for each wine to express its vineyard, vintage, and varietal authentically, as opposed to Gunderson and senior winemaker Alison Frichtl Hollister imposing a style on it by aggressive oak aging or other techniques.
Focusing on Nuances
Regardless of the source, the winemakers treat all the grapes similarly during fermentation and aging. Because the regimen is so consistent, tastings focus on the nuances of the soils and climates—the terroir, as wine folk call it—of the various vineyard locales.
Chardonnay, Pinot, and Chocolate
All visits to WALT require a reservation. Of the two daily tastings, one focuses on current-release Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, the other pairs Pinots with artisanal chocolates. From Thursday through Sunday, guests can book Root 101. A showcase for the single-vineyard Pinots, it includes gourmet bites.
Why go: relaxed setting; “1,000 Miles of Pinots”; Root 101 tasting.
WALT Wines appears in Sonoma Pinot Noir Day Trip.
This story originally appeared online in 2017; it was fact-checked and updated in 2022.