Cartograph Wines was founded by partners Alan Baker and Serena Lourie in 2008 as a passion project in the now defunct custom crush facility Crushpad, in San Francisco. After creating different wines for different projects, they decide to partner up and make world class Pinot Noir, inspired by Serena’s personal connection to France.
Two years after this inspired partnership, they opened a tasting room in Healdsburg and began expanding their wine offerings. Using fruit purchased from various sources in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties that best represent their stylistic dream, in 2016 the Cartograph Estate Vineyard was purchased to allow for full control from vine to glass and offer another amazing fruit source.
What Should I Expect?
Just off of the main square in Healdsburg, within easy walking distance of many other tasting rooms. Tasting is $20, but the fee is waived with a bottle purchase and for wine club members.
There are frequent special tasting events and food pairings, and the daily flight is typically 2 white wines and 3 pinot noirs. There are often bonus wines thrown in depending on the mood!
The winery is bright and airy, and has many seating options in the windows and on a cozy sofa. You can opt to belly up to the bar and get to know Tara, the vivacious tasting room manager, or Erika, the cat loving spitfire who man the bar.
During the week you are likely to have bubbly co-owner Serena assist you with your tasting or onward recommendations!
The tasting room staff making this a special experience. They know the wines inside and out, and can help guide your purchase and tasting experience.
How’s the Wine?
Cartograph specializes in Pinot Noir and aromatic white wines, but has also become well known for their rosé. For the second year, they will offer two rosé of pinot noir wines, one from their estate vineyard, and one from the North Coast AVA. There is a limited quantity of Sangiovese available, and future releases include a sparkling wine.
With anywhere from four to six pinots available, depending on the time of year and year, there is a pinot noir for everyone here. Careful attention is paid to unique character and complexity, beginning with the fruit itself. With balance and delicacy, these wines truly express a sense of place. Rounding out their portfolio with Riesling and Gewürztraminer, reminiscent of Alsace, these dry whites are a great foil to the rich and expressive pinot noirs.
What are my favorite wines? All of them of course! But for current releases, check out the 2015 Choate Vineyard Pinot Noir, The rich palate is full of deep earth, black plums and ripe cherries dancing through a forest. The medium body is not too heavy and changes in the glass as it shows off its high acid backbone creating a beautiful balance.
Looking for something different? Head over to the 2015 Saltonstall Vineyard Pinot Noir. This is a fruiter wine than the Choate, but the Sonoma Coast AVA still pops with freshness, but is balanced with ripe red fruit.
Make sure you ask about library selections! If you would like to see some of my thoughts, please click here.
What Makes Cartograph Unique?
Cartograph offers several winemaker tasting throughout the year which offer you an opportunity to have deep dive with Alan in to a particular vineyard, or an in depth look at all of the pinot noirs. This small group tastings fill up fast and are educational, fun, and delicious.
Wine Club members get free tastings and are invited to two release parties a year, as well as other fun special events. There are also insider discounts on other events and special initiations for members. With four levels to choose from, there is a Cartograph Circle made for everyone.
Tasting room staff are happy to recommend you other wineries with similar styles that you might like to visit, as well as other wineries that might meet your fancy as well as local restaurants.
For a Healdsburg winery with a quiet, calm atmosphere and a great story, step off the main square and head on over to Cartograph. You can buy a glass of your favorite wine and relax on the long blue sofa, or do a tasting and see what is on the menu this week.