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Inspired after a bicycle trip through Burgundy, Rebecca and Tom Birdsall jumped at the chance to make their own wines when Rebecca’s parents purchased 40 acres of land in Mendocino County. At the time, there was just a 4 acre plot of languishing Gewurztraminer vines which they pulled up in 1999, replanting the plot with Pinot Noir. At the same time, they were also able to expand the vineyard with an additional 8 acres.
The resulting “Kite’s Rest” vineyard totals 12 acres and is divided into three plots. The highest plot, at 321 feet, is Redwood’s Edge; next, at 217 feet, is Stony Terrace; last, at 130 feet, is River Turn. Following the Burgundian tradition, the goal here is to allow each plot to express its own terroir. As such, the vineyard and cellar work is the same for all of their cuvees. The fruit is hand picked and treated as gently as possible in the cellar, and the wines are fermented for 11-16 months in French oak.
Since the second vintage in 2004, the wines have been made by veteran winemaker Jeff Gaffner, who learned his craft working under legendary winemaker Richard Arrowood at Chateau St. Jean. Black Kite offers limited amounts of block designated bottlings as well as a blend that incorporates all three plots, simply called “Kite’s Rest” after the vineyard.
These are not imitations of Burgundy; these are true California wines and a perfect example of how elegant California Pinot Noir can be.