Arista Winery was founded in 2002 by Al and Jancis McWilliams with the intent of producing small quantities of quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from The Russian River Valley District . The day to day operations are now run by their sons Mark and Ben. Matt Courtney, formerly at Marcassin from 2005 to 2012 and now also with his own wines at Ferren, is the winemaker here.
The estate’s vineyards comprise 36 acres of land just outside Healdsburg in the heart of the Russian River Valley known as the Middle Reach. Of this, nine acres are planted to Pinot Noir and one to Chardonnay, the vines having been selected form some of the best vines in the region to give diversity and quality.
In addition, Arista sources fruit from a number of growers – including Steve Alden’s Perli Vineyard on the Mendocino Coast , Chardonnay from Kent Ritchie’s Ritchie Vineyard, the Kanzler family’s 15 acre vineyard on the western edge of the Russian River Valley, Pinot Noir from Paul and Amy Mononi’s vineyard near Olivet Road on the region’s eastern edge and from the Toboni family’s site in the heart of the Valley. In addition there are old vines planted Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Mark and Kim Demptster’s cool Banfield Vineyard and two vineyards owned by the Valdez family – Chardonnay from El Diablo and Pinot Noir from Lucky Well.
From these sources Arista produces what they call ‘Appellation” Wines – a Russian River Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir, plus single vineyard wines , of which the best known is the Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay, plus two Pinots wines from their own vineyards, bottled as “Two Birds” and Harper’s Rest.
The 2017 Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard is a stunning wine. It offers singular aromas of guava grapefruit peel and musky hints with layers of tangerine green herbs crushed stone and hints of elderflower. The medium-bodied palate is very expressive with kaleidoscopic flavor layers and addicting juiciness finishing long and ever-changing in the mouth. This is a flamboyant expression that can be drunk immediately or cellared for a few years.
The 2017 Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard shows the more finessed side of the Arista house style. Orchard fruit white flowers lemon confit and white pepper give the 2017 a striking register of brightness to play off the rich viscous fruit. This textured and super-explosive Chardonnay has a ton to offer.