The 29-acre Clos Pepe Vineyard, just off Highway 246 in the Santa Rita Hills, was recently leased to Napa Valley-based producer Walt Wines.
The property, purchased by Stephen and Cathy Pepe in 1994, includes 25 planted acres of pinot noir as well as 4 planted acres of Chardonnay. Relationships with select buyers of Clos Pepe pinot noir and Chardonnay will continue, according to a press release announcing the agreement.
Thanks to the efforts of renowned winemaker Wes Hagen, the vineyard is one of foremost producers of pinot noir and Chardonnay from the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. It’s not clear if Hagen plans to continue his work producing Clos Pepe’s estate wines.
The lease agreement is a long-term move for the Pepes who are planning to semi-retire from their efforts at the vineyard.
“My wife Cathy and I have enjoyed our two decades of producing pinot noir in the Santa Rita Hills,” Stephen Pepe said in a release. “We have decided to scale down our lifestyle after dedicating over 20-plus years in crafting Pinot Noir. We are thrilled to be able to work with the talented team at Walt and plan to continue live on the property and sell Clos Pepe wines for years to come.”
Walt specializes in premier, small-lot pinot noir and Chardonnay and produces from vineyards on the Central Coast, Sonoma County, and Anderson Valley as well as the Willamette Valley in Oregon. The label is a sister brand to the Hall Wines in Napa Valley.
“We have been producing Pinot Noir from the Clos Pepe Vineyard for the past five vintages,” Walt President Mike Reynolds said in the release. “The wines demonstrate a unique combination of elegance and concentration and we are thrilled to have a deeper connection with this vineyard for years to come.”