About Pinot Noir
Pinot noir thrives in France's Burgundy region, particularly on the Côte-d'Or which has produced some of the world's most celebrated wines for centuries. It is also planted in Austria, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, the Republic of Georgia, Germany, Hungary, the Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland and Bulgaria. The United States has increasingly become a major Pinot noir producer, with some of the best regarded coming from the Willamette Valley in Oregon; California's Sonoma County with its Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast appellations, as well as the Central Coast's Santa Lucia Highlands appellation and the Sta. Rita Hills American Viticultural Area in Santa Barbara County. In New Zealand, it is grown in Martinborough, Waipara, and Central Otago.
The leaves of Pinot noir are generally smaller than those of Cabernet Sauvignon, but larger than those of Syrah. The grape cluster is small and cylindrical, vaguely shaped like a pine cone. Some viticultural historians believe this shape may have given rise to the name. Pinot noir tends to produce narrow trunks and branches. In the vineyard it is sensitive to light exposure, cropping levels (it must be low yielding), soil types and pruning techniques. In the winery it is sensitive to fermentation methods, yeast strains and is highly reflective of its terroir with different regions producing very different wines. Its thin skin makes it highly susceptible to bunch rot and other fungal diseases. The vines themselves are prone to downy mildew, leaf roll, and fanleaf. These complications have given the grape the reputation of being difficult to grow: Jancis Robinson calls Pinot a "minx of a vine" and André Tchelistcheff declared that "God made Cabernet Sauvignon whereas the devil made Pinot noir."