In the heart of Sonoma Valley wine country, Landmark Vineyards practices the centuries old tradition of handcrafted wines. Garnering praise from some of the toughest critics, Landmark produces rich, balanced wines perfect for pairing with a multitude of cuisines.
Located in beautiful, sunny California.
- "To make great wines that enhance the joy of life.”
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Greg Stach, Associate Winemaker His unstinting dedication, commitment and respect for the land are reflected in his elegantly balanced wines. Stach’s winemaking philosophy incorporates traditional winemaking techniques with a “less is more” attitude. Believing that great wine begins in the vineyard, Stach intervenes during the winemaking process to ensure consistency and quality, but relies heavily on the fruit’s intense, ripe flavors and distinct vineyard characteristics. Under his direction, Landmark’s wines have consistently earned stellar reviews from top wine critics, including six honorable appearances on the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list.
A graduate of California State University at Fresno with a degree in journalism, Stach didn’t discover his true passion for wine until the mid-1980s while working as a restaurant sommelier in Fresno and Reno. Eager to immerse himself in the wine industry, Stach then went back to school and earned a degree in enology from Fresno State, graduating in 2001.
Winemaker Eric Stern has been an integral part of the Landmark family for more than 20 years. A veteran California winemaker, Stern is an award winning winemaker specializing in hand-crafted, traditional Burgundian-style wines.
Eric Stern, WinemakerA native of New York, Stern graduated from New York University’s Washington Square College after studying music, anthropology and geology, and worked for 10 years with chamber music ensembles in New Hampshire and Michigan.
Several years later, while working in a Boston fine wine shop as manager and sommelier, he realized his true calling. Following his dream, he relocated to California in 1983 and enrolled in California State University at Fresno, pursuing a second under-graduate degree in enology. After apprenticing at Acacia and Carmenet wineries, he joined Landmark in 1989 as assistant winemaker. Promoted to winemaker in 1993, Stern continues to pursue his passion for hand-crafting balanced, distinct wines. Relying on his refined sensibilities and adhering to the highest aesthetic standards, he consistently produces robust wines in the true Burgundian sense, and is recognized widely for Landmark’s signature Chardonnays.
Stern retired after Harvest 2010 and currently resides in Sonoma with his wife, Carol Brown, a writing instructor. He enjoys listening to music, reading, swimming and gourmet cooking. Eric and Carol love traveling to the world’s great winemaking regions.
In 1993 world-renowned consulting enologist Helen Turley was hired to work with then winemaker Eric Stern. The collaboration led to excellent winemaking and under Eric’s direction, Landmark’s wines consistently garnered rave reviews from wine writers. Our signature wine, the Overlook Chardonnay, has appeared on The Wine Spectator Top 100 list 7 times since 1997. Landmark's current winemaker, Greg Stach, has continued this tradition of crafting spectacular Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs for over 10 years.
Landmark’s mission is “to make great wines that enhance the joy of life" and winemaker Greg Stach feels that quality and flavor begin in the vineyards. In addition to our Landmark Estate Vineyard, Landmark sources grapes from a range of different regions and those selected are among the finest in the highly diverse microclimates of California. While the variation of the wines from vintage to vintage can be dramatic or subtle, the crafting of each year’s wine is guided by a single overriding philosophy at Landmark: “less is more.” According to winemaker emeritus, Eric Stern, “The less the wine is manipulated, the more flavors and aromas remain to enjoy.”
Practices & Techniques
Our chardonnay fruit is picked cool in the early morning and delivered to the winery in half-ton bins, which we routinely fill to less than 1,000 lbs., to help to minimize juicing. All of the bins are loaded by gravity feed into one of our tank presses, which have a combined capacity of 18 tons of whole cluster grapes. By not destemming or crushing the grapes prior to pressing, we generate lower solids and less bitter compounds in the juice. In order to maximize rich flavors, we carefully monitor the yield of juice from each press load of grapes, taking only the low pressure yield, which has the best balance and leads to a richer wine.
This juice is then racked into French oak barrels where indigenous yeasts carry out the primary fermentation. This traditional practice results in a succession of yeast species, with each contributing its own unique flavor components to the wine. This results in an aromatically more complex wine, and one that is unique to the ecology of Landmark's cellars. A second fermentation, the malo-lactic, is carried out by bacteria. These microorganisms lend additional flavor and aroma components as they convert malic acid to the softer tasting lactic acid. This results in a wine that is judged richer, rounder, fuller on the palate, and is furthermore stable from a microbiological perspective, and can hence be bottled without filtration.
Maturation over 8-10 months in barrel, with periodic lees stirring adds weight and flavor to the wine. When the various lots (averaging about 45 over the past several years) have been evaluated for flavor, balance and quality, we are ready to begin our blending trials.
Each year nearly 85% of all chardonnay barrels from the vintage will get blended to our Overlook Chardonnay. Typically, this wine includes wines from all of the appellations in which we harvest chardonnay: Sonoma, Monterey and Santa Barbara. Our Damaris Reserve Chardonnay will be a selection from the very best lots that will spend an additional several months in barrel. And finally, we select the very best barrels from the Lorenzo vineyard for this vineyard designate. These barrels will also undergo additional aging, up to thirteen months.
The final blends are settled in stainless steel tanks, lightly fined with isinglass and typically bottled without any filtration. This allows for greater aromatic richness and increased mouthfeel.
Estate Vineyards / AVA
Phil Coturri, a lifelong farmer who is considered Sonoma County's leading organic viticulturalist, brings his expertise in organic vineyard practices to Landmark. Coturri's farming style is completely organic, without the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides. Making valuable use of the land, a strong focus on vine balance, and combining the artistry of Landmark's old world legacy with improved organic grapegrowing techniques are some of Coturri's trademark applications that he implements throughout the property. He works closely with winemaker Greg Stach to ensure his efforts are complemented by Landmark's superior winemaking endeavors.