Fans of nuanced and earthy Oregon pinot would do well to check out Anthill Farms, the bootstrapped winemaking project of three fearless pals who love nothing more than roaming California’s northern coast in search of the perfect parcel on which to grow something that defies stereotypes.
Founded in 2004 with “$9000 cash and about $47,000 in sweat equities”, Anthill Farms combines the talents of David Low, Webster Marquez and Anthony Filiberti (all ex-Williams Selyem) and is shaped by the unwavering faith that New World pinot noir can be just as conversation-starting – if not more so – than its Old World counterpart. Anthony says he was stoked his partners were willing to entertain the dream they could make provincial Oregon-style wines in Sonoma those 16 vintages ago, with the trio somewhat taken aback when they got crazy reviews for their first 200 cases.
Today the guys make around 8000 cases of 12 different wines, including eight single-vineyard pinots using fruit from various coastal pockets, the Russian River Valley and lesser known Anderson Valley just over the county line in Mendocino. Having paid themselves a salary for the first time in 2019, it’s safe to say every cent possible has been reinvested in quality fruit here.
According to Anthony, dirt is a big factor in the character of Anthill wines. Grapes grown in sandy Goldridge soil on the coast tend to produce pinot with great texture, he explains, while the rockier Franciscan soil of the Anderson Valley leads to a powerfully structured sip. “You might not taste the difference in wines grown a few metres apart here in California like you can in parts of Europe, but we’ve done a ton of driving and discovered some big differences,” he adds.
Anthill Farms also produces a couple of appellation pinots, chardonnay from some of California’s oldest vines and tightly focused syrah. Rumour has it that an old-growth cabernet on the way too. As for your tasting soundtrack, try Delta blues with a bit of post-punk thrown in.