2007 Domenico Wines Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

Mission Codename: Patrimonio e la Tradizione Italiani

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Return to the Santa Cruz Mountains and secure a Pinot Noir that characterizes the unique Terroir of the region.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Domenico Wines

Wine Subject: 2007 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

Winemaker: Dominick Chirichillo


The Santa Cruz mountains, just North of Monterey (another great Pinot-producing region), are home to a small handful of lucky growers and producers. Pinot Noir grown in the region tend to be more concentrated and robust, with character that is more Burgundian than a traditional California Pinot. Today’s wine showcases the fresh and unique Santa Cruz wine region very well.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Bright and clear ruby red with a clear dark ruby red heart. Along the edges the color lightens slightly to a ruby-pink hue and when swirled widely spaced medium thick legs of randomly speeds slowly descend to the wine below.

Smell – Rich and aromatic with earthy and smokey red fruit including red cherry, strawberry and raspberry are framed by a forest scented earthy undertone. Notes of smokey oak along with exotic and brown spice invite a sip.

Feel – Smooth and dry, this medium bodied wine has soft supple tannins supported my bright but not aggressive acidity and earthy minerality.

Taste – Fresh and sweet in the initial attack with earthy red fruit including red cherry, raspberry and strawberry and are followed by tart and tangy red fruit including cranberry and cherry pit. The same earthy forest undertones, brown and exotic spice and soft vanilla toasted and smokey oak round out the nicely balanced flavor profile.

Finish – Medium in length and very clean with lingering sweet red fruit components that fades as the tart and tangy cherry pit fruit lingers with the other complex flavors.

Conclusion – The 2007 Domenico Wines Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir showcases the unique earthy red fruit and lighter bodied character of Santa Cruz Mountain Pinot fruit very well. Bright, fresh and sweet red fruit greet you on the nose, pleases the palate and lingers into the finish. Earthy notes, spice and soft wood adds complexity and a structure that is not overbearing, but sturdy enough, this wine is perfect to serve your your appetizer course, salad or with lighter grilled meats such as pork and chicken. Enjoy tonight or cellar for three to five years.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Dominick Chirichillo

WINE EDUCATION: Self taught winemaker, I started making wine with my Italian Grandfather Domenico Giovinazzo in a basement in Staten Island New York when I was probably 2 years old, and continued until college. He made wine with California grapes shipped into the produce dealers. I then picked up wine making in 1987 making 2 barrels with my Brother Patrick in a 1000 sg ft basement in Seaside Heights New Jersey; using my Grandfathers press and hand crusher.
I shared the wine and the excitement of winemaking with family and friends and invited everyone I talked about it, and come make wine with us, we went from 2 to 20 barrels the next year and expanded to 67 barrels over the next few years then moved to a 3000 sg ft facility and got up to 300 barrels and launched the Bacchus School of Wine. I kept that going for a number of years then Franchised the concept in 1997 sold 4 franchises in NJ until 2001.
In 1998 I moved my wife Gloria and our 2 sons Nick and Matt to Half Moon Bay California, I commuted to NJ till 9/11 happened and our first Franchisee died in the World Trade Center Bombing. At that point my wife and I rethought our dream and decided it was time to pursue our dream in California. We then decided it was time to stop the franchising and start something in California.
We unraveled our franchise business, kept our New Jersey, Bacchus operation and in late 2001 planted a 8 acre vineyard in Amador County 5 acres of Syrah and 3 acres of Primitivo. In June of 2004 we opened our Urban winery on the Peninsula in San Carlos, CA. and became members of the Santa Cruz Mountain Winegrowers Association, we source Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from that viticultural region. Since we opened Domenico Winery named in honor of my Grandfather I have received 300 winemaking awards.

CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Owner and wine maker.

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Less is better! Let the vineyard and the grapes make good wine.

WINEMAKER QUOTE: I enjoy making in your face red wines.



AGENT RED: Greetings, Dominick. We are thrilled to be showing your 2007 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

DOMINICK CHIRICHILLO: Thanks agent red, I’m excited to have The showcase my Santa Cruz Pinot Noir, I think that the Santa Cruz Mountain growing region is one of California’s hidden wine treasures, I love sharing the wine and the long winemaking history of the Santa Cruz Mountains.

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

DOMINICK: YES my experience growing up in an Italian family and the many times I was lucky to learn the basics of winemaking from my grandfather, Domenico Giovinazzo.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

DOMINICK: I first make wine to satisfy my selfish love of food and wine, and more specifically make wines to pair with food

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

DOMINICK: The Vineyard is small family vineyard located on a hilltop close to Mount Madonna, not far from Corallites. The vineyard has a spectacular view of the Monterey Bay, and gets those foggy mornings and sunny afternoons that Pinot Noir loves. Medium-bodied with aromas and flavors of strawberry, cherry and smoky oak.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

DOMINICK: Pairs with roasted chicken, lamb filet mignon, pate, goat cheese, Brie , walnuts, strawberries and cream or white chocolate.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Santa Cruz Mountains such a special place for Pinot Noir?

DOMINICK: The soils, the weather conditions; cool nights, foggy mornings, and sunny afternoons.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

DOMINICK: Bottling, and preparing the winery for crush!

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

DOMINICK: with an open wine, and willing to try new wines.

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

DOMINICK: I love what I do and I love sharing my wine and spending time with our winery wine club members and especially new customer that find their way into the winery.

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The approximate location of the Domenico Wines Tasting Room can be seen in this satellite photo.

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