Our partnership with Woodford Reserve® began several years ago when Chris Morris, Master Distiller approached Mick Schroeter, Director of Winemaking at Sonoma-Cutrer to request multiple emptied Chardonnay barrels to create a Master Distiller Bourbon with a Chardonnay barrel finish. That was so well received, several years later they approached us again to secure Pinot Noir barrels to create another Master Distiller Selection this time with a Pinot Noir finish. And that was where the genesis of the idea for this wine was born. Our very first trial of this wine was way back in 2016 with our V’15 Pinot Noir using three Woodford Reserve® barrels for aging. Our first attempt didn’t quite measure up to our winemakers discerning Pinot Noir standards. However, our tasting room team had a particular love for the wine and sold through those first 50 cases to visitors to our winery. The guests who tasted it and bought it - loved it. It was then that we began to get a small, cult following. We decided to try again in 2018 using our V’17 Pinot Noir. With this production, our winemakers began to refine our parameters for how best to craft the wine and Mick worked closely with Chris to receive freshly emptied, non-rinsed, bourbon barrels. Not rinsing the barrels was an important step in getting the right flavor notes that worked with the delicate Pinot Noir grape varietal. The approach for the third crafting of this Winemaker’s Release version was a very collaborative process. Zidanelia Arcidiacono, Pinot Noir Winemaker was essential in overseeing that the wine came across balanced. When asked about this process she refers to the wine as “her wild child”. “It all comes down to the nuances in the winemaking process and making sure that you are able to pick out the Woodford Reserve notes while remaining true to the core of Pinot Noir” she adds “that we are lucky that we make a robust enough Pinot Noir that it can stand up to the bourbon flavors allowing them to enhance not overwhelm it”.