California Pinot Noir and Chardonnay can be difficult subjects. What has become clear is that the success stories tend to come from vineyards on the extreme. These sites are usually in close proximity to the Pacific, where cooler temperatures and howling winds provide a decidedly different sense of California. Ambitious growers interested in these sites were laughed at decades ago, being told that their grapes wouldn't ripen. Of course, no great ideas go without their fair share of pushback.

One brave soul to tackle the rugged, extreme Sonoma Coast is Ehren Jordan of Failla Wines. After several years working in France, Ehren returned home to California and was an integral part of the inception of the famed Marcassin Vineyard on the Sonoma Coast. After seeing firsthand the outrageous capability of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on this wild western edge, he went off to find his own parcel. Ehren settled on a 13-acre-planted vineyard in the newly recognized Fort Ross-Seaview AVA.

Failla produces two benchmark Sonoma Coast wines from these extreme sites. They are one of the first places to turn for an example of what these noble Burgundian varieties can produce in California. The formula here is simple: Source great fruit and let nature take its course in the cellar, with nothing added or taken away. The Failla wines offer grace and complexity and, above all else, are incredibly easy to drink. This estate is one of the great sources for North Coast Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

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