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Vanessa Wong
Wine Club
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Sonoma County

PEAY Vineyards

207A N Cloverdale Boulevard., Suite 201
Cloverdale, CA 95425
United States



Peay Vineyards is located in the far northwestern corner of Sonoma County approximately 4 miles from the Pacific Ocean near Sea Ranch. The vineyard is situated along the coast, but not on the very first ridge. We have a partially obstructed avenue formed by the Wheatfield Fork of the Gualala River that allows for some fog and copious cool air penetration. The vineyard sits on a hilltop that is not way up in the air, but just at the top of the fog level, low enough to be very cool, but high enough not to be too cool and wet to grow grapes. We think it is the perfect combination of climatological factors.


California has a diverse range of microclimates. Our hilltop vineyard also expresses many subtle variations depending on whether it faces south, southeast or west; sits high on the hilltop in the afternoon breeze with full sun; or rests lower on the slope with greater fog influence and less sunlight. But make no mistake, this is pretty cool climate for grape growing. We cross our fingers hoping that the fruit will ripen before rains start in late October/early November. In some years, getting it ripe may be a challenge.


But that is why we produce superior fruit. Due to the cool climate we have a long growing season with moderate temperatures ideal for maximizing the production of intense flavors and phenolic compounds that result in complex wines. And we will always have plenty of acid to provide structure. No flabby, overripe wines here. 

Vanessa Wong

Vanessa Wong joined Nick and Andy for their first vintage in 2001. She is a graduate of U.C. Davis Viticulture & Enology with experience in France and Australia, as well as in the Napa Valley and Sonoma. A native of San Francisco, Wong was initiated into the wine business by working in wine retail and catering. This early exposure to the world of wine and its distinctive yet universal appeal sparked her fascination with winemaking. This led her to pursue a degree in viticulture and enology. 

Vanessa expanded on her studies at U.C. Davis by working at various wineries in the Napa Valley and spending one year in France to study enology and do research at the l'Institut d'Œnologie in Bordeaux. Upon completion of her studies she traveled between Europe and Australia to explore the diversity of winemaking, returning twice to France to work at Château Lafite-Rothschild in Pauillac and Domaine Jean Gros in Vosne-Romaneée. Settling back in California she served as enologist at Franciscan Oakville Estatesbefore going to Peter Michael Winery where she made wine from the 1996 to the 2000 vintage first as assistant winemaker, then later as winemaker. 


Together with Andy and Nick Peay, Vanessa shares the vision of farming grapes on the Sonoma Coast and making wines that are expressive of its unique climate and soil in their pursuit of creating world-class, single-vineyard wines. 


PEAY Vineyards



2009 Scallop Shelf Estate Pinot noir, Sonoma Coast


The nose on the 2009 Scallop Shelf Estate Pinot noir opens with a bright, hi-toned bouquet resplendent with floral and light red fruit aromas. As the wine opens up, underneath the initial impression is a deeper core of Rainier cherries and brass notes framed by intoxicating brown spices. The 2009 offers the black tea, orange rind, jasmine, cranberry and lingonberry notes found in previous vintages of the Scallop Shelf. It is a little more delicate and light on its feet than the 2008 or 2006 with a superb balance of tannins, acidity and fruit and has an ethereal quality—volume without heaviness in the mid-palate— that further beguiles and is quite persistent on the finish. Undoubtedly, a feminine expression of Pinot noir; elegant, floral, balanced and subtle. It can be enjoyed now but will improve with at least 3 years of bottle age as the aromas coalesce. It should hit its peak in 5-7 years.



2009 Ama Estate Pinot noir, Sonoma Coast


As described on the first page of the newsletter, the 2009 Ama Estate Pinot noir has emerged as a complete, unique expression of Pinot noir from our vineyard. The nose is quite seductive with dark, brandied cherry notes framed by brown spices including cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. These are not simply overt oak influenced notes but part of the spiciness of the clones that make up this cuveé. The fruit aromas on the palate are held together by brass and dried blood flavors and a lead or graphite (mineral) quality that gives the wine ballast. The mid-palate texture is broad and silky with excellent power and concentration brought into focus by notable acidity on the finish. As it is our inaugural vintage we wanted to be sure to price this wine so you would be willing to give it a try; we by no means, however, are sure it is inferior to our other estate cuveés and are interested to hear what you think. Drink now with a decant or hold for 3-10+ years


Our Estate vineyard is one of the coldest vineyards in California growing Syrah. When we purchased the property we were concerned that we would not be able to ripen Pinot noir, much less Syrah. But due to our dry October weather, we have an additional month to ripen our grapes in comparison to other typical Syrah growing regions of the world. It is true October days are shorter and daytime highs rarely exceed 75 degrees, yet these qualities lead to longer hang time that imprints our Syrah with characteristics that speak of our place.


Cool climate syrah can take two forms. They are either red-fruited with floral and sanguine notes or leaning towards dark fruit with meaty, earthy notes. In both cases refreshing acidity and low alcohol are key for achieving balance and age-ability. Each of our two cuvées capture one of these expressions while delivering our site's unique mineral and white pepper characteristics. 


As we discussed in last Spring's newsletter, you will benefit greatly by aging our syrahs. When young, the power and concentration will no doubt impress but aging syrah, like most red wines, allows aromas to integrate and coalesce while bottle age characteristics develop. The result is a uniform, more complex profile. So drink a bottle now, if you must, but then hide a few and forget about them for a few years.


2009 La Bruma Estate Syrah, Sonoma Coast


All of our 2009 wines are fairly open in their youth and show the fruit, exuberance and promise of a knobby kneed, loose elbowed, teenager. The 2009 La Bruma Estate Syrah hints that this teenager will evolve into a mature, complex lad who will turn heads and demand attention. The aromas in the nose include huckleberry, orange, plum and acai berry. La Bruma is always the more floral syrah and shows the classic hi-toned lilac and antique rose scents. Underlying the top fruit and floral notes lie spiced beef, blood, caramel and spicy cinnamon and licorice notes. The mouth is not as exuberant as the nose and emphasizes flavors of blood, lead and flint like a good steaktartare. It is medium bodied with a sharp and focused attack that carries all the way to the back of the palate finishing with great length and crisp acidity. Age for at least 5 years and enjoy for the next 1-2 decades.


Among the roster of elite wineries where she worked before starting Peay Vineyards with Nick and Andy, Vanessa cut her teeth as winemaker at Peter Michael Winery. It was there that she learned how to make superior Chardonnay.


2009 Estate Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast


We drink a lot of Chardonnay. In our mind, great Chardonnay has a quality we call intensity. It is that bright beam of flavor in the mid-palate that cuts through food and bodes well for a long life for that wine. In most vintages, the Estate Chardonnay has a mineral and citrus character that makes our Chardonnay unique among the vast sea of Chardonnays available. The 2009 Estate Chardonnay combines that character with the intensity we seek. The nose shows youthful pear and lemon/vanilla custard notes. With time the robustness of flavors will become part of the vibrant and powerful wet slate, citrus and lead pencil flavored mid-palate. The finish is brisk and persistent with superb acidity and cut. The Estate Chardonnay will provide pleasure now especially if you prefer power and richness but will age for at least 10 years hitting its peak perhaps in 7-8 years.


We make only a drop of Viognier from one acre that sits high on a knoll in the vineyard. We grow and make Viognier because, when allowed to express its essence, we love Viognier's aromatics and versatility with food. 


2009 Estate Viognier, Sonoma Coast

The 2009 Estate Viognier captures the more restrained and zippy expression of this variety. You will not find fruit cocktail in it anywhere. Fans of Peay Viognier appreciate our style for its freshness and energy; if you like the oily, apricot version of this variety, look elsewhere.

The Estate Viognier is a blend of Geneva and Condrieu clones. We picked it in one pass on October 4th (it is only 11 rows) and fermented it in 100% neutral oak barrels for 10 months. The nose is flinty and floral with lychee, green tea and orange blossom notes. The mouth expresses the typical Peay Viognier character with a crisp and clean limestone flavored attack with lemon, orange blossom and a touch of white peach. The acidity is quite brisk. Drink now or within the next 2 years.


We are very surprised by the explosive response from mailing list customers, restaurateurs and writers for our Roussanne/Marsanne. We love this wine, but did not realize that wine lovers everywhere were waiting for a structured, complex, food-friendly white wine. Well, hallelujah! Unfortunately, we grow less than one combined acre of Roussanne and Marsanne. And let me tell you, Nick tears his hair out growing that one acre (boy, is Roussanne a trying child). 


2009 Peay Vineyards Estate Roussanne/Marsanne


The proportion of Roussanne was up in 2009 to about 82% of the blend from the usual 66% composition. The increased amount ofRoussanne brings more minerality, higher acidity and lower alcohol (13.0%) as our estate vineyard is a very cold place to grow this grape.  The nose on the 2009 Estate Roussanne/Marsanne has a briny, flinty quality with unripe pear and green papaya fruit notes. The mouth shares these characteristics with a more metallic quality and less fruit expression. The mouthfeel is focused and round and silky though not from alcohol or oak use as there is no new or even one year old oak used in making the wine. The finish is brisk and clean with good length. This is a cuveé to age as it has the structure to allow a long evolution and develop the nutty, oxidized, honeycomb aromas that some lovers of aged Rhône whites desire. Age for up to 5 years and much longer as desired