The notion of prominent European wineries setting up shop in California’s wine country is certainly not new; they’re often well funded and build some rather fantastic castles in what used to be my home turf. I don’t say this in a disparaging way, and most produce very good to exceptional wines. But, being from California, I was always inclined to be partial to the more home-grown talent.
So, I’ll be honest, when I first heard of Marimar Estate and the connection to the Torres family, I categorized them as the same. A big Spanish house coming in and spreading their brand to what had become recognized as one of the world’s premier areas for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. And, again, that isn’t a bad thing, per se; after all, Torres makes great wines at every price point, both in Spain and Chile, but still…
All of that changed when I was fortunate enough to meet Marimar Torres on my recent trip to Sonoma. She is as integral in the growth of Russian River Pinot Noir as any of the other great winemakers I met, and hers is a story that was both captivating and worth repeating.
Growing up in Barcelona, while Spain was under the rule of Franco, she eventually realized that, as a woman, she was destined for a life as a second class citizen. Sure, being from a prominent family meant that her life would be at least comfortable, but that wasn’t enough for her. So, in the mid 70s, she left the country and took over international sales for her family’s business, also buying some land in Sonoma, long before it had the cache it now has.
Even still she had to fight sexism in the industry and even from her own family who seemed to find her desire to get into the family business as something cute that she would hopefully out grow so she could just settle down. Thankfully, she never did. Rather, she became one of the modern pioneers of Russian River Valley wines, planting and managing organic Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards in areas some thought foolish to try.
Standing in her vineyards, tapping her knowledge and that of her colleagues, was illuminating to say the least. I learned so much about the soil, the weather, the passion and, to be clear, this was shared by so many other winemakers I met, whose wines I’ll be showcasing going forward.
But, perhaps because my own preconceptions were so wrong about the genesis of Marimar Estate, her story was one I am particularly eager to share.
We will also offer her Mas Cavalls Pinot Noir from her Dona Margarita Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast appellation. Putting your nose in the glass, you are immediately greeted with classic pinot notes of black cherry and spice. The texture is generous and echoes the abundant flavours expressed in the aromas, while the wine finishes, at once, both clean and long. This is a pinot that is ripe enough that you don’t need to be an oenophile to love, yet the Burgundy purists will still appreciate.
$16/glass or $58/bottle