Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Deer Meadows Vineyard


Deer Meadows Vineyard, Anderson Valley in 2015. Photo: J. Waits/Waits-Mast Family Cellars

As we look forward to the fall release of the 2016 Waits-Mast Family Cellars Pinot Noir, Deer Meadows Vineyard, we’re a bit wistful as this will be our final vintage from this beautiful and special site in Anderson Valley. The story of how we stumbled into our experience with Deer Meadows Vineyard is a tale so characteristic of the small, supportive winemaking and winegrowing community of Anderson Valley.

Ten years ago, we were in the process of going independent after getting our start at Crushpad, a community winery in San Francisco that incubated small brands. The first step for us was gaining access to our own vineyard contracts. In early September 2009, we were in touch with a grower in Anderson Valley to purchase fruit, and he rang up Brian one afternoon.

He said that he was happy to sell us his fruit - of which he had a lot - but that he ran into Rich Savoy at the Philo post office that day. Rich said that he had a few extra tons of fruit and was asking if any small producers might be looking for a ton or two. Our contact told us that we’d be fools (we’re paraphrasing as expletives were used) not to take an opportunity to purchase this fruit from Rich Savoy.

We were well aware of Rich Savoy as a renowned grower in Anderson Valley whose Savoy Vineyard had been heralded as one of the best sites in the valley, with producers such as FEL, Failla, Radio Coteau, Littorai and others having made excellent wines from the vineyard. Lesser known was Savoy’s higher elevation vineyard in Anderson Valley. Perched at 1600 feet in the hills above Boonville, it didn’t have a name in 2009, but a select allocated block from this site had long been the source of Littorai’s One Acre Pinot Noir.

This same 1600 foot site is where Savoy had some extra fruit in 2009 and it’s the vineyard that came to be known as Deer Meadows (our early blog posts about the site refer to it as Deer Meadows Ranch). Of course, we jumped at the opportunity to buy Pinot Noir grapes from the vineyard and proceeded to meet Rich at the property to talk details. We poured him some of our past wines so he could taste firsthand our winemaking philosophy and style. Thus began a wonderful working relationship with a great grower with a long history in the valley.

Our eventual contract with Deer Meadows was a one-acre contract, allocating specific blocks of 115, 777 and Calera Pinot Noir clones. The meticulously tended vineyard was farmed in different clones, row orientations and aspects along the top of the ridge above Anderson Valley. All of this combines to deliver a very complex, layered and age-worthy wine.

That first wine from Deer Meadows in 2009 exceeded all of our expectations, made even more special because Waits-Mast was the first winery to release a vineyard-designate from the site that was labeled with the Deer Meadows name. It was also a critical hit and the wine was featured in Wine & Spirits Top 100 Wines of 2012 issue. More recent vintages have had their star turn as well.

After a several year break, we returned to Deer Meadows in 2012 and are so glad we did. The 2012 vintage of Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Deer Meadows Vineyard was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle Top 100 Wines and Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Cellar Selections. Even more exciting, the same wine was served at a White House state dinner in August, 2016. The subsequent vintages (2013, 2014 and 2015) are all excellent wines, have experienced similar critical acclaim and continue to develop and show more character with age. And most importantly, we have numerous fans of Deer Meadows among our customers.

Which brings us to the 2016 vintage of Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Deer Meadows Vineyard, our last. Alas, Rich Savoy sold Deer Meadows Vineyard to Ted Lemon of Littorai Winery in 2016 and that was the final year that we had access to the storied vineyard. We look forward to sharing this wine with you later this year in our Fall Release. Stay tuned to our mailing list for purchase information.

In the meantime, we are celebrating ten years of what has become a flagship wine for our little winery. In honor of the decade since the dawn of Deer Meadows, we are offering our 2013 and 2014 vintage of Waits-Mast Pinot Noir, Deer Meadows Vineyard at 2009 prices, $47/bottle, until supplies last. Additionally, for a limited time in our web store, we have a special three-bottle vertical of Deer Meadows Pinot Noir, which includes the 2013, 2014 and 2015 vintages.

We invite you to purchase a selection of Waits-Mast Pinot Noir from the storied Deer Meadows Vineyard. Not only is it an incredible wine from vintage to vintage, but it’s also played a significant role in the history of our winery and is a testament to a very special winemaking community and the working relationships that have helped us craft memorable wines.

Deer Meadows Vineyard in 2016. Photo: J. Waits/Waits-Mast Family Cellars