Press

Forbes Features “A Day in the Life of Consulting Winemaker Katy Wilson”

July 31, 2019
By Jill Barth

Ever wanted to work in the wine industry? One of the most notable jobs in the field is that of a winemaker. A unique facet of this vocation includes the role of a consulting winemaker, skilled professionals engaged to provide expertise — from broad to highly specific — to a winery team.

Of course, understanding how to make wine is a prerequisite. Added to that, success in this job depends on superb communication skills, the ability to contribute to a team, flexibility and experience with various vineyard settings and cellar conditions. This workforce is tied to a desire to make great wine, yes, but also to be of service to their clients.

Sonoma-based Katy Wilson crafts wine under her own label, LaRue Wines — a 500-case portfolio of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Chardonnay — which she founded at age 26, while working at the time as associate winemaker at Kamen Wines. Meanwhile, she serves as consulting winemaker for Anaba Wines, Claypool Cellars, Reeve Wines and Smith Story Wine Cellars…

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Antonio Galloni Reviews the 2016 Pinot Noirs

May 2019
“Katy Wilson’s 2016s are pretty, aromatic Pinots that beautifully convey her finessed, understated style.”

2016 LaRue Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
“The 2016 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast) is bold, racy and quite juicy, especially for Katy Wilson’s style. Dark cherry, plum, spice and rose petal are all pushed forward in this mid-weight, succulent appellation-level Pinot. The 2016 is very pretty, but also a bit riper than is the norm. It will be ready drink upon release.” 90 points

2016 LaRue Thorn Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir
“The 2016 Pinot Noir Thorn Ridge is a beautiful wine that melds the natural savoriness of this site with that extra bit of ripeness that runs through all of Katy Wilson’s wines in this vintage. Rose petal, mint, dried herbs, chalk, blood orange and crushed red berry notes add striking layers of nuance. Even so, the Thorn Ridge is a decidedly tense, nervous Pinot built on sizzling energy more than anything else.” 91+ points

2016 LaRue Rice-Spivak Vineyard Pinot Noir
“The 2016 Pinot Noir Rice-Spivak is a deeply intriguing wine from LaRue and proprietor Katy Wilson. A burst of sweet red/purplish berry fruit, lavender, sage, mint, violet and spice give the 2016 much of its distinctive personality. Dark, pliant and super-expressive, the wine pulses with energy and pure class. I loved it.” 93 points

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Prince of Pinot Reviews 2016 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs & 2017 Chardonnay

July 2019

LaRue Charles Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay 2017
“A wine of sophistication and breeding that pleases on entry, in the middle and on the finish. There is plenty of lemon and yellow apple flavor but the wine does not veer to tropical California ripeness.” Score: 95

LaRue Rice-Spivak Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016
“Seductive aroma of fresh cherry and baking spices. Delicious flavors of cherry and raspberry with an appealing accent of spice. Silky tannins, with concealed oak and an extremely long finish that seems to last a minute.” Score: 93

LaRue Thorn Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016
“Forward aromas of dark cherry and gentle oak are enticing. A mid weight plus styled wine with features of black cherry and blueberry and a complimentary, subtle earthy tone.” Score: 93

LaRue Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2016
“Dark red and black cherry fruit flavors along with spice and savory herbs are featured in this mid weight styled wine. The wine is shot through with acidity creating plenty of energy.” Score: 90

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International Wine Report Reviews Our 2016 Pinot Noirs and 2017 Chardonnay

May 2019
LaRue Charles Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay 2017
“The Charles Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay is a simply fantastic release from LaRue. As this stunning wine slowly begins to unwind it releases alluring aromatics of quince, pear, citrus and honeysuckle. On the palate this is absolutely gorgeous, showing lovely acidity and a textured mouthfeel that glides across the palate leaving behind flavors of citrus, apple and a touch of vanilla, that presisit through the bright finish. This stunning Chardonnay is hard to resist today and should continue to flourish beautifully over the course of the next decade.” Score: 94

LaRue Rice-Spivak Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016
“The Rice-Spivak Vineyard Pinot Noir is yet another delicious offering from LaRue in this vintage. With some air contact, this is begins to burst open with beautiful aromatics of dark cherries, red berries, floral and lavender along with sweet and exotic spices. On the palate this demonstrates both remarkable elegance and depth, with beautiful soft tannins and a gorgeous texture. It continues to impress all the way through the finish, as it shows excellent focus and complexity until the very end. Today, this is already showing flashes of brilliance, however there is no doubt it will also evolve gracefully over the next decade and beyond.” Score: 94

LaRue Thorn Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016
“The Thorn Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir from LaRue and winemaker Katy Wilson is absolutely stunning in this vintage. As this gorgeous Pinot Noir slowly begins to unwind it releases striking aromatics of beautiful pure red fruits, cranberry and exotic spices, along with wild flowers and an earthy character all taking shape. On the palate this shows incredible focus and balance, with a wonderful elegant mouthfeel and a core of delicious fruit that is framed by lovely acidity leading up to the mouthwatering finish. Overall, this is a simply fabulous Pinot Noir that should evolve gracefully for over a decade, however it will likely require a few more years in bottle before it begins to hit its stride.” Score: 94

LaRue Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2016
“Larue’s 2016 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir comes from 20-year-old vines from the Rice-Spivak and Thorn Ridge Vineyards. This gorgeous Pinot Noir begins with beautiful aromas of strawberries and dark cherries are woven together with cranberry, spices, leather, floral and dark soil. On the palate this is medium-bodied and possesses striking finesse, balance and focus, giving way to flavors of bright red fruits, spices and earthy notes that work their way into the long, elegant finish. Overall, this is a simply fantastic Pinot, that is showing well today, however could certainly benefit from an additional year or two of bottle age.” Score: 92

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Virginie Boone of wine Enthusiast Reviews LaRue Wines

December 2018
LaRue 2016 Charles Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay
Winemaker Katy Wilson impresses with this bottling, coaxing together a wine that’s briny and salty, perfectly consistent with this coastal-influenced Occidental site. A flavor of Asian pear accents a moderate structure and lingering complexity. 95 points

LaRue 2015 Thorn Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir
Winemaker Katy Wilson’s dedication to delicate winemaking is on full display in this tangy acid-driven wine from a beloved coastal site. Pomegranate and citrus underline the fresh, focused fruit aspects complemented by earthy forest floor, turned earth and crushed rock. 93 points

LaRue 2015 Rice-Spivak Vineyard Pinot Noir
Strawberry flavors coat the palate delicately in this tangy, softly textured wine that shows restraint in ripeness and style. The site’s volcanic ash soils contribute a mineral element that’s part turned earth, part crushed rock. 92 points

LaRue 2015 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Winemaker Katy Wilson crafts a delicate, grainy and textured wine from coastal fruit in this light-bodied, crisp and fresh take on the variety. Impressive on the midpalate in establishing just the right amount of weight to give it complexity and bite, it finishes in a seductive layer of clove and cola. 92 points

LaRue 2014 Rice-Spivak Vineyard Pinot Noir
Succulent and bright, this interweaves crunchy red fruit into a cohesive whole of balanced freshness and high-acid tenacity, the tannins supportive in providing weight and grip. 91 points

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Alder Yarrow of Vinography Reviews LaRue Wines

September 30, 2018
LaRue 2016 Charles Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay
Light gold in color, this wine smells of pineapple and lemon curd. In the mouth, lemon curd and pineapple flavors have a wonderful zip to them, thanks to excellent acidity. Notes of citrus peel with a hint of butterscotch linger in the finish. Very pretty. 14.2% alcohol. Score: around 9

LaRue 2015 Rice-Spivak Vineyard Pinot Noir
Medium garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberry and cherry and a touch of cedar. In the mouth, beautiful raspberry and cranberry flavors have a wonderful citrus kick to them thanks to excellent acidity and quite low alcohol (12.8%). Notes of green herbs and citrus linger in the finish with just the faintest hint of vanilla. Lovely. Score: between 9 and 9.5

LaRue 2015 Thorn Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir
Light to medium garnet in color, this wine smells of raspberry and redcurrant. In the mouth, bright flavors of raspberry and redcurrant have a spicy, citrus kick to them and a gorgeous powdery tannic backbone that caresses the edge of the palate and the back of the mouth, while citrus peel notes and hints of wild thyme linger in the finish. Outstanding. 12.9% alcohol. Score: around 9.5

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San Francisco Examiner Features LaRue Wines

August 12, 2018
By Lyle W. Norton

I wondered, as I drove to meet Katy Wilson at the secluded Emmaline Ann Vineyard in Sebastopol, what would motivate a young winemaker to join the fray of great pinot noir and cool-climate chardonnay production in Sonoma County. Before I left the vineyard, 90 minutes later, I had my answer.

Wilson, owner-winemaker of LaRue Wines, has had a strategy in place since she crafted a business plan for a small production winery in Agricultural Business 101 at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Raised in farming, this could simply be a “she drove a tractor before a car” kind of story, but, a closer look reveals someone who, at a very young age, impressed her colleagues who, in turn encouraged and motivated her to make her own wines.

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International Wine Report Reviews Our 2015 Vintage

June 2018

LaRue Rice-Spivak Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015

“The Rice-Spivak Vineyard Pinot Noir is a drop dead stunning wine from winemaker Katy Wilson. This raidiant Pinot Noir begins with invoting aromas of sour black cherry, ripe blackberry, orange peel, followed by damp forest floor, violets and cacao. On the palate this possesses a gorgeous medium body with firm tannins and delicious flavors of tart red and black fruits with a hint orange citrus on the finish. This is absolutely outstanding today and will develop more even complexity as it ages over the next 12-14 years.” Score: 94

LaRue Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2015
“Winemaker Katy Wilson sources the fruit from Rice-Spivak and Thorn Ridge Vineyards to make this gorgeous wine. Aromas of wild strawberry, dark cherries, intense florals, spices and forest floor jump from the glass. The fruit shows remarkable purity and simply delicious. It is beautifully balanced lovely acidity and tart red berries leading up to the long. This is completly stunning now, and it will certinaly continue to age gracefully over the next decade.” Score: 93

LaRue Thorn Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015
“The Thorn Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir begins with striking aromas of blackberries and raspberries followed by floral, sweet spices, eucalyptus and dried florals which all come together beautifully. Medium-bodied and beautifully textured with incredible purity and core of ripe juicy fruits expanding across the palate. The wine has excellent structure and fine silky tannins that are simply gorgeous, as this impresses all they way through the long velvety finish. This is a completely fabulous wine from Katy Wilson, which should continue to drink beautifully over the course of the next decade and beyond.” Score: 93

LaRue Coastlands Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014
“The 2014 LaRue Coastlands Vineyard Pinot Noir is an utterly fascinating wine in this vintage.The bouquet is simply gorgeous and wonderfully complex, with aromas of raspberries and cherries woven together with exotic spices, fresh cut florals, loamy soil, leather and hints of scorched earth. Remarkably focused and precise on the palate, this displays striking elegance and sheer class, as the beautifully pure red fruits and berries work their way into the mouth watering finish. This is a top-notch Pinot Noir from Katy Wilson which will continue to become even more compelling as it evolves gracefully over the next decade plus.” Score: 96

LaRue Charles Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay 2016
“The 2016 Chardonnay from the historic Charles Heintz Vineyard is truly spectacular. As the wine slowly opens it delivers beautiful aromas of white peach, vanilla blossoms, lemon custard, tropical fruits, key lime and a touch of honeysuckle. It has a gorgeous texture, which is remarkably balanced, as it combines wonderful pure fruit and bright acidity leading up to the delicious finish.” Score: 95

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California Winery Advisor Interviews Katy Wilson

July 2018

Katy is a pioneering winemaker and winery owner in Sonoma County California. In addition to making wine for Anaba Wines, Claypool Cellars, Reeve Wines and Smith Story Wine Cellars, Katy crafts ultra-premium Chardonnay and Pinot Noir under her own label, LaRue Wines. Katy shared her thoughts with us on what it takes to succeed as a winemaker, the beauty of working in Sonoma County’s Wine Country and the best wine she last drank. We hope you enjoy the interview and take a look at LaRue’s website.

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Prince of Pinot Reviews 2015 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs & 2016 Chardonnay

June 2018
“The latest spring 2018 offerings from proprietor and winemaker Katy Wilson are stellar as usual.”

LaRue Rice-Spivak Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015
“Refined and gracious on the palate, with an amazingly generous core of black cherry fruit that seems to persist on the finish for minutes.” Score: 94

LaRue Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2015
“The nose is joyous, with aromas of cherry, pipe smoke, spice, and dried rose petal bringing more intensity over time in the glass.” Score: 93

LaRue Thorn Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir 2015
“Comforting in the mouth, with good harmony, in a mid weight style featuring dark red fruit and savory herb flavors. The very long finish is notable for its generosity and refreshing cut.” Score: 93

LaRue Coastlands Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014
“The nose is quite savory, featuring aromas of earthy flora, cigar box and toasty oak.” Score: 90

LaRue Charles Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay 2016
“Lovely aromas of lemon, stone fruits and alfalfa set the stage. Crisp and fresh in the mouth, with engaging flavors of lemon, white peach, buttered toast and pastry cream.” Score: 92

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Antonio Galloni Reviews the 2015 Pinot Noirs

April 2018
“I was really impressed with Katy Wilson’s wines this year. The 2015 Pinots are fabulous, and may very well be the best wines she has made to date. The very early harvest brought with it a number of challenges, including inconsistent ripening. Because of that, Wilson did not feel the stems were uniformly ripe enough to use in fermentation and all of the wines were done with fully destemmed fruit. Even so, the wines are brilliant, focused and full of personality. Don’t miss them.”
2015 LaRue Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
“The 2015 Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast) is gorgeous. In this freakish, early-ripening vintage, the Sonoma Coast Pinot is richer and more succulent than normal, and while that is a stylistic departure from the past, there is no denying the resulting wine is striking. Silky tannins and plush fruit add to the wine’s considerable appeal. This is a superb showing. Wow!” 93 points
2015 LaRue Thorn Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir
“The 2015 Pinot Noir Thorn Ridge offers lovely density and mid-palate pliancy to play off the more energetic notes that are typical of this Sonoma Coast site. Sweet red cherry, blood orange, mint and star anise add an exotic flair to this very pretty, silky Pinot from Katy Wilson.” 93 points
2015 LaRue Rice-Spivak Vineyard Pinot Noir
“The 2015 Pinot Noir Rice-Spivak is the most elegant and nuanced of the three 2015 Pinots I tasted. Finely sculpted in the glass, with terrific energy, the 2015 marries the natural richness of the year with the crispness and delineation that is such a signature of Katy Wilson’s best wines. Sweet red and purplish fruit, floral and mineral notes add nuance throughout. Above all else, though, the 2015 is all class.” 94+ points
2014 LaRue Coastlands Vineyard Pinot Noir
“A wine of real distinction, the 2014 Pinot Noir Coastlands is fabulous. Enticing aromatics and translucent fruit give the Coastlands a sense of total allure that is hard to fully describe. All the elements simply fall into place in an effortless, pedigreed Pinot loaded with class. The 2014 needs time in bottle to develop its full range of aromatics, but it is striking, even at this early stage. Katy Wilson gave her 2014 Coastlands Pinot 32 months in barrel, which is quite long.” 94 points

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Forbes Highlights Women-Led Wineries

February 28, 2018
LaRue Wines, Katy Wilson
“Katy Wilson is a solo entrepreneur who also works as consulting winemaker for several brands: Anaba, Claypool Cellars, Smith Story, Banshee, and Reeve. She was SF Chronicle’s “winemaker to watch” in 2013. I worked alongside her for years and find her to be an impressive businesswoman who never fails to show up without a smile and light spirit. LaRue, which features single-vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, offers appointment-only tastings and a guest cottage.”

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International Wine Report Releases TOP 100 Wines of 2017

December 2017
LaRue Pinot Noir, Thorn Ridge Vineyard 2014, #54, 96 points
“The Thorn Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir from LaRue is a complete standout and one of the most impressive wines from the vintage…”
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International Wine Report Reviews the 2014 Pinot Noirs

July 2017
LaRue Pinot Noir, Emmaline Ann Vineyard 2014- “This possesses a soft and supple texture on the palate along with expressive fresh red fruits and a lovely touch of acidity keeping this fresh and inviting through the finish.”
Score: 94
LaRue Pinot Noir, Rice-Spivak Vineyard 2014- “The wine itself offers vibrant aromas of wild cherries, dark forest floor, exotic spices and spring flowers which all come together beautifully in the glass.”
Score: 95
LaRue Pinot Noir, Thorn Ridge Vineyard 2014-“After a few hours of air it begins to blossom with exotic spices, smoke, fresh roasted coffee and minerals. The refined and elegant texture and shows great overall balance and focus through the long, pretty finish. Overall this is a simply dazzling wine.”
Score: 96

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Prince of Pinot Reviews 2014 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs

May 2017
LaRue Rice-Spivak Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014, 94 points
“The whole cluster character infuses the mid weight core of cherry, raspberry and blueberry fruit flavors. The polished mouthfeel appeals, and the citrus imbued finish is up lifting.” Score: 94

LaRue Emmaline Ann Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014, 95 points
“Impressive fortitude on the palate with mid weight flavors of an array of well-ripened cherries and berries. The wine sports gentle tannins and an extremely long finish. Very soothing, offering power in a velvet glove character.” Score: 95

LaRue Thorn Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014, 94 points
“Very engaging on the mid palate and finish, with a silk and satin mouthfeel, a deft touch of oak, and up lifting acidity on the WOW finish.” Score: 94

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Prince of Pinot Reviews 2015 Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay

April 2017
LaRue Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay 2015, 95 points
“The wine really perks up the senses with flavors of lemon, peach, pear and subtle vanilla… I can just taste the Wente clone in this classy wine that embraces with perfect harmony.” Score: 95

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Wine & Spirits Year’s Best US Pinot Noir

April 2017 Issue
LaRue Emmaline Ann Vineyard Pinot Noir 2014, 91 points
“This comes from a small vineyard planted on a forested hillside near Sebastopol, and it feels like a coastal wine, with a green edge to its high- toned red fruit that suggests sumac and rhubarb. Maybe because the fruit is so high toned, the oak feels a bit prominent at first, gripping and cedar scented, but the vineyard’s refreshing herb and flower aromas win out in the end.” Reviewed by Luke Sykora.

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International Wine Report Releases TOP 100 Wines of 2016

December 2016
LaRue Pinot Noir, Rice-Spivak Vineyard 2013, #28, 95 points
“This 2013 Rice-Spivak Vineyard Pinot Noir from LaRue is simply fantastic. This opens with flat out gorgeous notes of fresh raspberries, wild strawberries, ripe plum, dark soil, exotic spice, mint and fresh spring flowers all come together to form the complex aromatics. On the palate this offers wonderful pure fruit combined with layers of fresh red berries, wild cherry and earth characteristics. This is a simply remarkable Pinot Noir and will continue to flourish over the next 10-15 years.”
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International Wine Report Reviews the 2013 Pinot Noirs

July 2016
LaRue Pinot Noir, Rice Spivak Vineyard 2013-This opens with flat out gorgeous notes of fresh raspberries, wild strawberries, ripe plum, dark soil, exotic spice, mint and fresh spring flowers all come together to form the complex aromatics.
Score: 95
LaRue Pinot Noir, Emmaline Ann Vineyard 2013-As this gorgeous wine begins to open it releases a beautiful aromatic nose of red berries, smoke, exotic spice, followed by fresh mineral, herb, and dried floral notes. It has remarkable texture with intense berry, earth and fresh mineral flavors through the palate and into the long finish.
Score: 95
LaRue Pinot Noir, Coastlands Vineyard 2013-This absolutely brilliant Pinot Noir comes from the Coastlands Vineyard, situated at 900-1,200 feet… On the palate this is very elegant and polished, coupled with a firm backbone and notable depth as it heads into the long finish. This will continue to evolve and gain complexity over the next decade.
Score: 95

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wine Enthusiast writes, “Way out on the Sonoma Coast”

June 2016
LaRue Wines, named for her great-grandmother who lived to be 97 years old. Open by appointment, it’s a chance to taste her interpretations of key vineyard sites, including a Coastlands Vineyard Pinot Noir and a Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay, which has been owned and farmed by the Heintz family since 1912.

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Prince of Pinot Reviews 2013 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs

June 2016
2013 LaRue Rice Spivak Vineyard Pinot Noir
“Intoxicating aromas of sweet cherries, exotic spices and rose petal…Melded tannins, vivacious acidity and long on the finish. Score: 93″

2013 LaRue Coastlands Vineyard Pinot Noir
” Flat-out delicious, with a silky demeanor, tight acidity, cashmere tannins and welcome finishing interest. There is plenty to ponder in this elegantly styled wine that will especially appeal to whole cluster fans. Score: 93″

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Hole & Corner Magazine feature “Follow the Vine” on independent CA winemakers

May 2016
Issue 08, The Senses Issue, Spring 2016
“Each one of Wilson’s wines is made differently…Her aim is to let each wine speak for itself, making sure it carries the hallmarks of her style and approach as a winemaker, but allowing the character and nature of each vintage to show itself.”

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Something about Sonoma ask’s Katy wilson-“whats the winemaker’s beer?”

February 17, 2016
“There’s an old saying about wine: It takes a lot of good beer to make a great wine. Nowhere is this more true than in Sonoma County, where some of the world’s best wines are produced by winemakers drinking some of the world’s best beers. SomethingAboutSonoma sat down with two of the area’s up-and-coming young winemakers to talk about their beer preferences and some of the differences and similarities in the wine and beer making process.”

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Antonio Galloni Reviews the 2013 Pinot Noirs

February 11, 2016
“Katy Wilson’s 2013 Pinots are some of her best wines yet. Over the years, Wilson’s Pinots seem to have become more precise, nuanced and articulated, all qualities that come through loud and clear with these current releases. As always, Wilson’s light touch translates into wines of grace and restraint.”

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San Francisco Chronicle Winemaker to Watch: Katy Wilson

February 4, 2013
“Even in a lineup of top California Pinots, Wilson’s wines tend to stand out for their balance of juiciness and tension. They are friendly, but highly structured, wines.”

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