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The Pahlmeyer story is a tale of international intrigue, passion and Hollywood stardom… Of Jayson Pahlmeyer, friends and family… Of French clones, legendary winemaking and iconic wines...

Once upon a time, there was a man with a bold, irrepressible spirit – a trial attorney called to the profession by its fast and furious nature.

While successful in his career, a hypnotic captivation with wine soon eclipsed his legal ambitions. He had an insatiable thirst for adventure and a certainty that Northern California (his native soil) held considerable winegrowing potential. Was it destiny that Jayson Pahlmeyer’s world was turned happily upside down? Who can say?


Following his dream Jayson partnered with the owner of a 55-acre site in south-east Napa Valley. The two shared a devotion to Jayson’s audacious dream of creating a “California Mouton,” and began imagining the vineyard’s potential. The key, they were sure, lay in planting the finest French clones of the red Bordeaux varieties - a considerable roadblock since importing clones is an international offense.

After months of sleuthing in elite French vineyards, Jayson sought the assistance of the venerable viticultural professors at the University of Bordeaux. The professors analyzed soil samples, exposure, rainfall and temperature data from the land and recommended the Californians grow corn.


Undaunted, and living on a shoestring, Jayson persevered until after three years the professors isolated the exact Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec vines with the greatest intensity, depth of flavor and character.

Jayson's partner smuggled their “suitcase clones” to the U.S. through Canada. All went off without a hitch until their final truckload, when the border authorities uncovered the French vines. Ordered to surrender all their contraband, they kept their French clones hidden and instead turned over to the unwitting patrollers clones purchased from U.C. Davis.


Planted in 1981, the French cuttings adjusted to their shock at a snail’s pace. Catching wind of these crazy guys and their Bordeaux vines, one of California’s foremost winemakers, Randy Dunn, visited the site and warned, “Don’t screw it up.” Clearly they didn’t because in 1986, seeing unparalleled promise, Randy asked to purchase the entire crop. Jayson agreed to sell most of the fruit - on one condition: that Randy make Jayson’s “Pahlmeyer” Red Napa Valley Bordeaux blend.



Waters Ranch Vineyard: Napa Valley “My closest advisors, Helen Turley and John Wetlaufer told me ‘If you want to be a first-growth, you have to have your own vineyards,’” says Jayson Pahlmeyer. “I found this property in the eastern hills of Napa Valley that was owned by the Waters family - an incredible parcel with views to the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline. John did the soil analysis, David Abreu studied the terrain, and speaking for all of them, Helen proclaimed it ‘paradisal’. It was rocky, desolate, low vigor, with good drainage. Perfect for growing Bordeaux varieties.

“I hired David Abreu to develop it, and Helen and Erin Green, Helen’s protégé and our longtime winemaker, selected the clones, which included those smuggled from Bordeaux that I had been using since my 1986 vintage.”

Situated on the ridge of Atlas Peak, every acre of Pahlmeyer Waters Ranch Vineyard is micro-managed and farmed according to its unique conditions by the winery’s viticulture teams including Director of Winemaking Kale Anderson.


Wayfarer Vineyard: Sonoma Coast

Wayfarer vineyard is extraordinary and unforgiving – 30 undulating acres hidden beyond rising fog and redwoods on a remote reach of the Sonoma Coast. This distant landscape is the provenance of wildly beautiful wines born of risk, rigor and mastery; small-lot Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Pacific's most dramatic appellation.

Wayfarer Vineyard is organized around a primary ridge, King Ridge, which shares its name with the winding mountain road that leads to the site. The King Ridge dominates the slopes of the vineyard while smaller, more subtle slopes run perpendicular to it. The intricate structure of the main ridge with smaller under-ridges is the result of a long process of erosion, that has taken place over the past 50,000 years.

Wayfarer’s distinctive weather patterns are defined by both coastal influence and site elevation. At 1,100 feet in elevation, the vineyard enjoys extended sun exposure. It resides 6.75 miles – two coastal ridges – from the Pacific, and chilly ocean winds moderate vineyard temperatures as generous sunshine keeps the site warmer than its lower-elevation surroundings. This warm spot in an otherwise cool area allows our fruit to ripen slowly, evenly and fully – maintaining a balanced acidity while achieving remarkable concentration and complexity. Expert viticulturalist David Abreu strategically divided the site into 30 one-acre blocks, each dedicated to a single clone determined to be the best match for the block’s sun aspect, elevation, and slope – 16 distinct clones in all. 


The area receives generous winter rainfall – typically 30-50 inches. Wayfarer’s well-drained Goldridge soil allows great permeability, forcing our vines to delve deeply for water, making them less vigorous and more drought-resistant. During the later stages of the growing cycle, evening fog often rolls up the ridge and blankets the vineyard through the night. By late summer or early fall, this fog may linger past noon, ensuring cooler temperatures and slow, steady ripening of the fruit.


By 2012, the vineyard’s exceptional fruit presented an irrefutable case for a namesake label. With Jayson’s daughter, Cleo Pahlmeyer, leading the charge and Bibiana González Rave lending her talent, Wayfarer is an endeavor of true passion – an experiment that pushes the exactitude of winegrowing and winemaking to the farthest limits.  The debut vintage of the single-vineyard Wayfarer released in October 2014.



Jayson Pahlmeyer has a track record for tapping rising stars as his winemakers - from Randy Dunn to Bob Levy, Helen Turley, Erin Green and most recently Bibiana Gonzalez Rave.

Finding a winemaker to follow in the footsteps of these legends was no easy task. But in 2012, Jayson found two: Kale Anderson, director of winemaking, Napa Valley, and Bibiana González Rave, consulting winemaker, Sonoma Coast.

“I’ve always been drawn to cutting-edge winemakers with verve and vision,” says Jayson. “As soon as I met Kale and Bibiana I knew that they were the new era for Pahlmeyer. Each is perfectly suited to the wines and estate vineyards they’ll oversee.”

With more than 10 years of winemaking experience with luminaries such as Mark Aubert, Philippe Melka and David Abreu, Kale Anderson is carrying on the Pahlmeyer tradition of producing rich, powerful Napa Valley wines, including the winery’s flagship Bordeaux-style proprietary red blend. “I had already been working with fruit from Waters Ranch for several years, and taking the vineyard and Pahlmeyer wines to a new level makes me ecstatic,” said Kale. “It’s Pahlmeyer 6.0.”


A native of Colombia, Bibiana González Rave earned a degree in Oenology from the University of Bordeaux before spending several harvests in Burgundy and South Africa and settling in California where she worked for Peay Vineyards, Au Bon Climat, Qupe and most recently, Lynmar. Overseeing the production of Pahlmeyer’s Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and the Wayfarer Vineyard in the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA, she says, “The Wayfarer Vineyard is an extremely special site. We are on the threshold of presenting some truly exceptional wines.”


9 different wines with 56 vintages

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