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Napa Valley Winery Exchange

SpotlightWinery Spotlight – Pey-Marin Vineyards

Winery Spotlight – Pey-Marin Vineyards

Jonathan and Susan Pey started Pey-Marin Vineyards in 1999. Together they had extensive but different experience in several aspects of the premium wine business in northern California, Europe and Australia. Jonathan lived, worked and studied in France and later earned a BS degree in Agriculture and an MBA in California. Susan was a recognized leader in the “service” side of the wine industry with extensive training and experience in California and Europe. After attending University in Italy, she earned her BA degree in the U.S and began working as Wine Director for a large & prestigious Bay Area-based restaurant group, giving her the opportunity to taste hundreds of wines each week.

Since 2002 the Pey’s have crafted small lots of critically acclaimed dry Riesling and Pinot Noir from a dry-farmed, old-vine site at the Pey-Marin Vineyards in frigid western Marin County. The Pey’s winemaking philosophy is based in their firm belief that fine wines are made first in the vineyard, through sustainable and organic farming practices. They believe that great wines require superb quality grapes which can only come from unique, well-tended vineyards. Pey wines capture the intensity that comes from these vineyard sites, but in a balanced fashion so that their wines enhance, not overpower, a meal or occasion. Resulting in wines with less new French Oak and alcohol components. Every grape is hand pruned, hand harvested, and hand sorted. Character and balance in the grapes are enhanced by improved sunlight and air penetration. Crop thinning and removal of shoots naturally control vigor and limit yield per vine, increasing flavors and aromas.

The Pey’s operate several wine brands including; Pey-Marin, Forager, Spicerack Vineyards and Marin Water. Marin was the Pey’s inaugural winemaking location, and an ideal grape growing location at that. Marin vineyards are cooler than those in Santa Maria or Santa Rita Hills, a major contributing factor to the high-quality grapes grown in there. With a longer growing season Marin wines tend to display more balance, lower alcohol levels and have superb natural acidity compared to wines produced nearby. Marin’s unique combination of extremely cold climatic influence and epic geologic history yields an unparalleled environment for terroir-based winemaking, making it a prime growing location. Likely this area would be used more for agriculture, but after the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco many people moved to Marin County, leaving less land for farming. This led grape growers to move north into Sonoma and Napa counties.

The Pey’s brand, Forager, showcases small lots of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from chilly Sonoma Coast, Willamette Valley and the iron-rich red soils of Mendocino. Spicerack focuses on Rhone varietals including a Sonoma Syrah and just-released Rhone blend featuring Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Grenache. The Pey family pioneered premium winegrowing in west Marin over two decades ago, and now celebrate this milestone with a delicious dry rosé under the Marin Water label.

Jon Pey encourages everyone to support local restaurants during this time. These restaurants not only unite our communities and provide jobs, but also support smaller family owned wineries. The restaurant industry is majorly impacted during this crisis and it is important to show them support in any ways possible.


Pey Wines Available for purchase


2018 Pey-Marin Riesling, Shell Mound Vineyard, Marin County ($27.95): 

Intriguing from the first scent, the nose of this wine opens with oyster shell-like salinity in contrast to floral-tropical scents that include apricot, cantaloupe, mango, peach pit, applesauce, white pepper, white and yellow rose and chamomile. The wine is a bit plumper than expected on the mid-palate, where the fruit moves to center-stage to mirror the aromas, but with a subtler impression of elegance. The saline-mineral notes kick-in at the finish, turning the lingering finish fully dry and very dinner-friendly. This could might be a perfect match to grilled swordfish with pineapple chutney or a rich veggie roulade. 100 cases made.


2018 Forager Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast ($21.95): A rich and complex yet balanced Chardonnay comes from grapes grown on the chilly Sonoma Coast, a terrific spot for exemplary cool-climate Chardonnay.


2018 Spicerack Syrah $25.95: Medium ruby-red and enjoyable now, it displays the varietal typicity of fine Syrah with nuances of a fine Spicerack. Superb and diverse sites in the cooler areas of Sonoma bring intensity of aromas and nuanced flavors.


2018 Textbook Cabernet Sauvignon $26.95: 90 points from Wine Spectator. This Cab Features excellent density, range and depth of flavor, built around cedar-laced blackberry and currant notes. The finish is structured, impeccably balanced and gains a nice earthy edge, showing traction and structure.