At Papapietro Perry Winery in Healdsburg, CA, Pinot Noir has long been the focus. For 25 years in fact. Ben Papapietro and Bruce Perry started making wine in Ben’s San Francisco garage before eventually moving in 1998 to Sonoma County to launch Papapietro Perry Winery. They made their wine at Windsor Oaks Winery near Santa Rosa, earning very-early-on favorable mention in Wine Spectator and other wine publications as the craze for quality California Pinot Noir began.

It was clear from the start that the duo’s original garage wines were special. As word of mouth grew about the Papapietro Perry wines, Ben and Bruce realized their avocation was much more than a hobby. Ben took a job as general manager of a Sonoma County winery in order to fully transition to the wine world while he and Bruce secured fruit from what turned out to be exceptional Russian River Valley vineyards. 

Today, the winery makes a range of high-end, small-lot Pinots that routinely achieve critical acclaim. Long-held close relationships with a handful of top growers and a minimalist approach to winemaking remain a core foundation of the winery and its winemaking team, currently owned and led by Bruce’s wife Renae Perry and Ben and Yolanda Papapietro. (Sadly, Bruce passed away in 2022). The wines are sought-after by Pinot Noir aficionados, and the winery enjoys a dedicated mailing list of customers for its new releases.

Ben Papapietro
Ben Papapietro

Winemaker Ben Papapietro meticulously crafts a line of four single-vineyard Pinot bottlings from top sites, along with a pair of exclusive “clone” bottlings that highlight two of the most revered Pinot Noir clones, Pommard and 777. Each is a pure expression of Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley, showcasing the variety and terroir without being over extracted or over oaked. These wines capture the distinctive character of the vineyards and have a consistent track record:

Papapietro Perry 2019 Pinot Noir, Leras Family Vineyards, Russian River Valley ($66). Leras is in the heart of the Russian River Valley and is planted with old vine Pommard clones as well as newer vines of the 777 clone and others. The wine features expressive aromatics and a juicy palate that balances vibrant fruit with Russian River Valley minerality.

Papapietro Perry 2019 Pinot Noir, Peters Vineyard, Russian River Valley ($66). The vineyard is west of Sebastopol, a cool site at the edge of the Russian River Valley. This wine is perfumed with aromas of cherry and raspberry. A fresh, lively palate with a nice touch of oak follows.

Papapietro Perry 2019 Pinot Noir, Nunes Vineyard, Russian River Valley ($66). Located in an alluvial bench of the Russian River Valley with silty, clay loam soils. This well-structured wine is complex with aromatics of cherry and raspberry.

Papapietro Perry 2019 Pinot Noir, Campbell Ranch, Sonoma Coast ($66). The remote vineyard site is in the West Sonoma Coast near the town of Annapolis. This wine features enticing aromas of plum and strawberry with hints of fresh herbs and toasty oak; the vibrant palate has a long finish.

“We have been fortunate over the years that so many people appreciate the wines as much as we do,” said Renae. “We’ve earned success and are more established. But the simple desire to craft the best Pinot Noir we can—and to keep the whole thing decidedly fun— is what makes the winery a great place to visit and the wine in the bottle so special.”

Papapietro Perry Winery Patio2

The winery’s Dry Creek tasting room commands postcard views of the vineyards from its comfortable, spacious patio, where guests enjoy seated tastings with a charcuterie plate from local purveyors. For those unable to visit, the winery offers a long-running series of engaging virtual tastings with food pairing themes that range from caviar to artisanal cheese. And in keeping with Papapietro Perry’s generous hospitality, dogs are enthusiastically welcomed with treats, fresh water, a complimentary dog bowl, and, more often than not, a photo shoot for the winery’s social media.

Renae Perry with Ben and Yolanda Papapietro
Renae Perry with Ben and Yolanda Papapietro

Renae and Yolanda have also taken a leadership role in the wine industry in support of women in the business. In 2021 they founded National Women in Wine Day, a social initiative to provide resources and empowerment to women in the wine industry and those seeking to enter the business. Women in Wine Day (#WomenInWineDay) is March 25th each year, and it serves to highlight stories of women in the wine industry. 

Photos courtesy of Papapietro Perry Winery

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Fran Endicott Miller is a luxury-focused freelance feature writer for a variety of lifestyle publications and websites and a California editor for luxury travel concierge service Essentialist. Prior to her journalism career, she held positions in the fields of politics, television, and professional sports, and is proud to have established the Golden State Warriors’ first community relations department and programs. Principled and genuine, she’s known for thoughtful, thorough, and lyrical coverage, and for the quality of her writing. When not traveling she can be found walking her neighborhood with her beloved Golden Retrievers Reggie and Nate.