Sister winery to HALL St. Helena produces Pinots 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 full-bodied 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.
Winemaker Megan Gunderson oversees the WALT wines with Pinot Noir 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 the winemaker imposing her style on it by aggressive oak aging or other techniques.
Focusing on Nuances
Regardless of the source, Gunderson treats all the grapes similarly during fermentation and aging. Because her 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.
Two Tastings Now, One to Return
As of July 2020, two tastings are being offered. Taste a few current-release Pinot Noirs along with a Chardonnay, or sample two Pinot Noirs, two HALL Cabernets, and a Zinfandel from BACA, a third label. WALT expects to resume Root 101, which showcases the single-vineyard Pinots, sometime this summer.
WALT Wines appears in Sonoma Pinot Noir Day Trip.
Why go: relaxed setting; full-bodied Pinots.
This story originally appeared online in 2017; it was fact-checked and updated in mid-2020.