It’s been exactly one year since I visited California wine country with a wonderful tour up and down the coast. One of my last stops was the Monterey region where I learned how the climate of the area creates an optimal setting to grow grapes (and many other crops). Last night, on the one year anniversary of the day I stepped foot in California for the very first time, I opened a bottle of Estancia Pinot Noir from Monterey and thought back on my trip.

I didn’t visit Estancia’s vineyards on the trip, but I did enjoy the wines from the region and happily accepted a sample of the winery’s Pinot Noir. When I’m asked to sample wine, beer, or spirits, I always make sure the producer is using substantial sustainable practices before I accept.

Estancia has undertaken a solar project that has drastically reduced their carbon footprint and extended the use of the sun's energy throughout the entire winemaking process. Seventy-five percent of the winery’s energy comes from this solar project and keeps 1,492,335 pounds of greenhouse gases out of the air every year. As their representative told me, that’s the equivalent of taking 237 vehicles off the road, planting 27,000 trees or 248 acres of forest, or not driving 2.6 million miles – I’d say that’s substantial.

What about the wine? The 2012 Estancia Monterey County Pinot Noir ($11.99) I sampled is the type of Pinot Noir I enjoy. Fruity, but not sweet with pleasant hints of cherry. A little spicier (cloves maybe?) than the normal Pinot Noir you’d get at this price – and for me, that’s incredibly welcome. I like to detect spice in my red wine, and I don’t always with a Pinot Noir.

The wine is made with 100 percent Pinot Noir grapes that have been been aged in oak barrels for 10 months, giving it a medium body. For around $12, I think it’s a great choice to pair with what’s popping up at the farmers markets right about now – asparagus, free-range poultry, spring goat cheeses and other light, fresh foods.

If you’d like to try this wine, you can use Estancia’s where to buy search feature to find a store or restaurant near you that sells it. 

Wine, beer and spirits disclaimer: I am not paid by any producer of wine, beer or spirits to write about their product, although the company may provide me with a sample of the product. I am not a professional reviewer of wine, beer or spirits. I'll write about the product if it's something that I like and if I think the producer is working toward making the product in an environmentally friendlier fashion.

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