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The story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.

During my recent visit to the east coast, I learned about how many winemakers first started planting vines in Virginia, New York, Maryland and elsewhere. Each one talked about how little information they had when they started, and that they turned, at first, to California’s wine industry for guidance.

For many, California was seen as the established wine producing region in the United States. I was reminded at a recent seminar featuring Hirsch Vineyards at World of Pinot Noir that California winemakers had only begun making wine a few decades before the east coast. With little insight or experience, there were some California winemakers who took risks, like David Hirsch, who purchased land in an untouched area with the goal of growing wine grapes.

Hirsch Vineyards, founded in 1978, is located in a remote area of West Sonoma Coast in Sonoma County. The land was originally a remote sheep farm—there was no one else out there. Hirsch had no farming experience but he fell in love with the land, his daughter Jasmine told us. He purchased 1,000 acres in an extremely remote area and people thought he was crazy. Then, in 1980, he planted pinot noir, a less than popular grape at the time. And, not knowing any better, the vines were planted on their own rootstock.

It was only a matter of time for Hirsch Vineyards to transition from an idea people thought was crazy to being one of the most sought after vineyards for pinot noir. By 1994, wineries such as Littorai, Flowers and Williams Selyem, as well as others, came to Hirsch to buy his fruit. And, in 2002, Hirsch began producing wine under their own name.

One of the events that I look forward to each year is World of Pinot Noir which takes place at the beginning of March at the Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara. Wineries from throughout California, as well as other domestic locations, such as Oregon, and international regions, come together for a weekend of seminars, tastings and dinners focused on pinot noir. The 17th Annual World of Pinot Noir took place this weekend (March 3-4) and I flew back from the east coast and drove straight up to Santa Barbara in order to arrive in time. Each year I attend different seminars and this year was no different. This year, I attended the seminar and lunch series which included two vertical tastings of Grand Cru Vineyards from Louis Latour in Burgundy. We tasted 1999, 2002, 2005, 2010, 2012 and 2014 vintages of Romanée St Vivant les Quatre Journaux Domaine Latour AND Château Corton Grancey. After this flight, we shifted to the Sonoma Coast and did a vertical of the Hirsch San Andreas Fault Estate Pinot Noir 2011-2014, as well as a horizontal of 2014 Estate Pinot Noirs [Hirsch West Ridge Estate Pinot Noir 2014; Hirsch East Ridge Estate Pinot Noir 2014; Hirsch Raschen Estate Pinot Noir 2014; Hirsch Block 8 Estate Pinot Noir 2014]. Both flights had delicious wines in them because, after all, they were all pinot noirs from Burgundy and the Sonoma Coast. I loved many of the Latour wines, especially the 1999 Château Corton Grancey and the 2005 Romanée St Vivant les Quatre Journaux Domaine Latour and recognize what a unique opportunity it was to taste those wines. But, the one wine that stood out above them all and is the Please The Palate Pick of the Week, is the Hirsch San Andreas Fault Estate Pinot Noir 2011 (average price $64.00).