Rain or Shine: Meeting Andy Peay of Peay Vineyards

IMG_2529Shoot, I am distracted and salivating.  I’m reading the Peay Vineyards Spring Release newsletter and just noticed their back page recipe for Wild Nettle Risotto with Porcini Mushrooms, White Asparagus and Sea Scallops. Now I am hungry and in the mood for Peay Wines!

Good thing owner Andy Peay was recently in town. I met him at the Manhattan taste lab at Skurnik Wines, one of the area’s best importer/distributors.  Andy is one third of the winning trio at the Sonoma first generation family winery.  All winemaking is done by Andy’s brother Nick and Nick’s wife Vanessa Wong, a winemaker formerly of Peter Michael Winery and first growth Bordeaux Chateau Lafite-Rothschild.  That’s a resumé!

I’ll be visiting Sonoma this summer and one thing is clear to pack: my raincoat. When the family purchased an old sheep ranch/apple orchard in 1996, they were about to get wet. Peay’s 51-acre estate is located in northwestern Sonoma Coast, at the intersection of cold, wind and intense coastal rain, sometimes up to 80 inches a year. It was easy not to take initially this too seriously while in the warm Skurnik offices nibbling on charcuterie Andy had brought from Sonoma artisans.

Andy shared how seriously challenging the rain can be, however. In 2010 and 2001, case production was down by 50 percent. The rain and cold were so intense they couldn’t even produce some of the varieties they grow.

peay-2013-pinot-noir-sonoma-coastAnd yet, despite rain, Peay is performing miracles.  They farm organically, even incorporating Integrated Pest Management and solar power at the vineyard and winery.  They also are committed to their estate fruit. Learning their terroir is clearly paramount to Peay, and Andy wrote in their newsletter: “There must be something about living on the vineyard through the year, daily walking the vineyard at all stages of growth, and making wine from the same vineyard across many varying vintages, that enables the estate winemaker to best capture the ineffable, yet distinct, voice of the vineyard.”

I tasted the 2014 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.  We carry the 2013 at Vintology right now, but Andy says the 2014 replaced the 2013 as his favorite bottling of this cuveé when he tasted it.  Peay grows only 8 acres of Syrah, which made the tasting of the 2013 ‘Les Titans’ Syrah very special.  I will visit the Redwood National Park this summer as part of my trip, and particularly liked that ‘Les Titans’ referenced these California giants.  The wines were perfection!

Now, where to find nettles…

Peay Wines and more great finds are at www.vintology.com.

Questions and feedback welcome to [email protected]


*Reposted with permission from Girl Meets Vine. http://elizabethmillerwine.com/girlmeetsvine