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Winemaker’s Choice: What We’re Drinking

by Joy Sterling | Published July 11, 2022

Iron Horse Vineyards Winemaker’s Choices

Ever wonder what the winemaker pours for himself? Well, here are Winemaker David Munksgard’s picks our 2022 clubs. Members in our Winemaker’s Choice Club receive these delicious wines each month! Read his reflections here:

October 2022: Joy! 2006

We were very honored to pour at the Wine & Spirits Magazine Top 100 Wines of the Year tasting in San Francisco this month as the sole American bubbly. It was a thrill to get to taste our Joy! alongside 2013 Cristal.

Joy! is our tête de cuvée. Produced exclusively in magnum, the current release is vintage 2006, a blend of 75% Chardonnay and the balance Pinot Noir, disgorged in September, after 15 years aging en tirage. This is a remarkable wine with great finesse for when you want to indulge.

It shows aromas of toasted almonds and hazelnuts, Meyer lemon and orange zest with a very slight hint of cassis. It has an amazing, creamy texture with bright citrus notes on the front palate leading to honey on the mid palate with a gorgeous long finish. It’s not just the taste, but how it makes you feel. This wine lives up to its name.

October 2022: 2019 Winery Block

‘Tis the season for Pinot Noirs and lately I have been reaching for our 2019 Winery Block. The grapes come from the east-facing knoll that slopes down from our Tasting Room, with the rows running north-south. The clone of Pinot Noir here is Pommard 5, known for ruby red color, medium density, nuanced flavors, silky tannins, and a long fruity, ripe finish. It is especially beguiling by candlelight and pairs beautifully with rich dishes especially those filled with mushrooms to bring out the earthiness in the wine.



July 2022: Summer’s Cuvée

Put up that umbrella and dust off the patio chairs; summer is here and so is Summer’s Cuvée. This winemaker’s choice celebrates the season of swimming pools, patios, decks, the garden, going to the beach and enjoying all things outdoors. This vintage Pinot Noir and Chardonnay blend brings all the promise that summer holds. Stone fruit, fresh berries and tropical notes dominate the nose while citrus and peach like flavors invite taste after taste. Crisp, yet with enough body and creamy texture to make for easy sipping. Serve with lighter summer fare such as cold, sliced roast chicken and a Greek salad, lobster rolls, potato salad, fresh sliced peaches.


July 2022: Deer Gate Pinot Noir

July is time to rediscover your grill-master self! Made entirely from Clone 828, our 2018 Deer Gate Pinot Noir is great with all those yummy, super satisfying grill favorites. Clone 828 is easy to spot in the vineyard with its unique upright shoot growth pattern.

It’s almost as though the vine is holding up its arms saying, “Pick me!” “Pick me!” Of all our single clone Pinots, Deer Gate is my choice for grilling. It’s the concentrated ripe berry quality that comes from 828 that works so well with BBQ, whether dry rub or tangy sweet. Pro Tip: Save a bit in your glass for s’mores after sunset.

Wishing for you a most delicious summer. Enjoy!

The Reflection Vineyard Block at Iron Horse

May 2022: 2018 Rainbow Cuvee

Rainbow Cuvée is our toast to diversity.  The blend for this delicious sparkling wine changes every vintage. For this release, I was inspired during my early morning walks around the reservoir on the estate, home to a variety of visiting ducks, geese, and herons. You can see one of our favorite vineyard blocks reflected in the water. It’s a beautiful sight …  and the grapes from the Reflection blocks make exceptional wines.

The base wine for 2018 Rainbow was made from this special site on the estate. It is 64% Pinot Noir and 36% Chardonnay. The Pinot Noir was barrel fermented and put through malo-lactic fermentation, while the Chardonnay was cool fermented in stainless steel without M/L to preserve its vibrant quality.

The complexity of the blend is apparent immediately upon opening the bottle. Even before pouring the first glass, scents of peach, apricot and toasted almonds fill the air. The first sip fills your mouth with stone fruit and baked almond, along with crisp apple and brioche on the finish. Every sip that I take of this wine reminds me how lucky I am to have found winemaking and Iron Horse, the place where my winemaking dreams are realized.

The Home Block Vineyard at Iron Horse

May 2022: 2019 Home Block Pinot Noir

Home Block Pinot Noir comes from a small 3.4-acre planting of Calera Clone Pinot Noir, so named because it is adjacent to our Co-founder Audrey Sterling’s home. We probably lavish more attention to this site because Audrey’ looks at it every day from her veranda.

Only the upper section of the vineyard, that gets more sun, goes into this wine. The dividing line changes a bit year to year based on the “look” and taste of the grapes near harvest time. We will send a crew in to drop clusters that don’t meet our expectations.

The result of all this self-imposed pressure pays off in the wine. Elegance is what we are looking for here – a wine that commands your attention, not by shouting, but with a seductive whisper. Wines like this come from the heart. You can’t buy that level of dedication needed to make them. You hire folks that already want to make them. People who keep the dream alive. A dream that started when Audrey and Barry first set eyes on what is now Iron Horse. Every sip you take of this wine keeps that dream alive. Cheers to dreamers like us!