Arista Winery

California: Russian River Valley, United States


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On our 36-acre parcel we have 10 acres planted to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The rest of the land is dedicated to winery and production space, our home site, and our estate farm and gardens. Of the 10 planted acres, we have nine acres of Pinot Noir and one acre of Chardonnay. The estate is broken further into distinct vineyard blocks determined by soil type and slope aspect.

Each block is farmed independently and is planted to specific rootstocks in order to optimize vine health and ensure vine balance and even ripening. Additionally, each block is planted to various heritage selections of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay personally selected by the McWilliams family from some of the most historic vineyards within the Russian River Valley. Our belief is that using plant material that has existed within the Russian River Valley for multiple generations versus buying mass propagated and generic plant material from nurseries ensures genetic diversity and health within our vineyards.


The Two Birds Vineyard is one of four estate vineyards, named after proprietors Al and Janis McWilliams, whose nickname for one another is “bird,” and whose home sits on the hill overlooking this vineyard. Planted in 2006, the three-acre vineyard is planted to three heritage selections of Pinot Noir. The soil in the Two Birds Vineyard is a mixture of loam and clay loam called Zamora clay loam — soil that is perfectly suited for Pinot Noir. The Two Birds Vineyard consistently produces a wine of great depth and intensity commonly associated only with wines grown in the Middle Reach of the Russian River Valley.



Besides our estate vineyards, we also source grapes from several small, responsibly farmed vineyards throughout the Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Coast. In addition to our Sonoma County sites, we source grapes from Mendocino County’s two most prestigious Pinot Noir appellations: Anderson Valley and Mendocino Ridge. Our commitment is to sustainable farming practices, and we’ve carefully chosen grower partners who pursue these same principles. We do not attempt to manipulate our vineyard sites but instead strive to preserve each vineyard’s natural qualities.


The Ferrington Vineyard, one of California’s most acclaimed Pinot Noir Vineyards, sells to eight wineries and is tucked away just off Highway 128 in Booneville, a small town in the heart of the Anderson Valley. Twenty-five acres are planted to multiple clones of Pinot Noir. We have selected blocks that include the Swiss Clone 2A, also known as Wadenswil, as well as Dijon Clones 667 and 777. The vineyard has a gentle south-facing slope and decomposed sandstone and clay soils with three to four feet of topsoil. This vineyard was originally planted in the late 1960s, although some of the 25 acres of Pinot Noir vines were planted in 1998 and some even more recently. The Ferrington Vineyard also serves as the source of our highly acclaimed dry Gewurztraminer. We source from two blocks in the vineyard which are planted to separate clones of Gewurztraminer. The combination of clones allows us to produce an intensely aromatic wine that is layered with fruit and spice, all classic characteristics of one of the world’s most interesting grapes.


Kent Ritchie proudly oversees his legendary namesake vineyard located in the heart of the Russian River Valley at the intersection of Trenton Road and Eastside Road. This Chardonnay vineyard was planted in the early 1970s to a handful of heritage selections and clones. Now, 40 years later, these thick, gnarled vines produce some of the most highly sought after wines from a choice selection of California’s most respected Chardonnay producers. Our block has a gentle, southwest exposure and sits atop a shallow mixture of Goldridge soil, volcanic pumice and small river pebbles. The confluence of ideal soils, exposure and climate produces the perfect conditions to grow world-class Chardonnay. Due to vine age, clonal selection and soil type, the yields are naturally low which helps to further concentrate flavor and define this unique vineyard’s voice.


Joe and Mary Toboni and their family own a 15-acre Pinot Noir vineyard near the intersection of Olivet Lane and River Road in the heart of the Russian River Valley. Fourth-generation San Franciscans, the Toboni family has ties to Sonoma County going back to the 1920s.

The beautiful sloped vineyard matches great soils (loamy clay with some mineral and gravel composites) with proper rootstock (101-14), and French clones of Dijon 115, 667, 777 and Pommard 5. These four clones of Pinot Noir were planted to individual blocks based on soil composition to maximize the warm days and cool nights we experience in the Russian River Valley. Trellising is a vertical system with narrow row spacing of 6 by 5 or 6 feet between rows and 5 feet between each vine. This spacing makes farming a little tricky and labor-intensive, but it is based on modern farming techniques for Pinot Noir where tighter spacing and more pruning has proven to produce grapes with the complex flavors and intensity that are sought by winemakers.

The vineyard’s microclimate allows for a nice mix of classic Pommard clone and the newer Dijon clones which tend to favor the cooler climate of the Russian River Valley. The wines produced from this vineyard tend to show dark, rich fruit flavors balanced by wonderful structure and bright acidity.

The Toboni family has taken on the daunting task of nurturing this vineyard in ways that would ultimately honor this wonderful appellation as a world-class region. “We are proud to farm this incredible land and to support Arista’s goal of producing the ultimate Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley,” says Joe Toboni.


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