Pleasant Valley Vineyards sells distinctive handcrafted wines from grapes of only the highest quality varietals.
Pleasant Valley Vineyards was the vision of Craig (the Vintner) and Cathy (the Vinelady) Handley who transformed their 5-acre parcel in the Santa Cruz Appellation into a boutique winery in 1996. Knowing the terrior’s rich attributes and the valley’s unique micro-climate influenced by the Monterey Bay, they envisioned producing the highest quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. They found that passion is a result of loving what they do and including friends and family in the process.
Their vision required a lot of work! Our grapes are grown on a steep bowl that serves as an amphitheater to the rear of the estate. Preparing the land to handle the grapes in a way to ensure proper sunlight and drainage was a major consideration. Volume was not an option, so each decision was made to ensure the best yield from our land.
Estate Pinot Noir was planted on the North and Northeast sides of the property; Chardonnay was planted on a South facing slope. These locations provided maximal sun and warmth for the Chardonnay while protecting the more delicate Pinot Noir, which remained in the cool shade until the morning fog burned off and was kissed by the afternoon sun.
Our estate wines, Brittany Morgan Chardonnay and Dylan David Pinot Noir, are produced from French Dijon clone vines planted in 1996. We spent the first years allowing the vines to come to maturity while honing our craft. Our family celebrated our first crush in 2000. A band of hard-working volunteers, now known as the PV Wine Ratz, helped us harvest, de-stem, and press the grapes. This tradition continued through 2017. All of our Estate vintages are hand-picked by family and friend volunteers, many of whom now have over fifteen years of experience. The crew keeps building too! We’re pleased to say that many volunteers are also wine club members, and friends that come back year after year to celebrate our Crush with great food, conversation, music, and some of our earlier vintages.
The Estate Dylan David Pinot Noir, recognizable by the faded-blue Les Paul guitar on the label, is our pride and joy. Our appellation and location, Corralitos, is known for Pinot, which is why we also partner with the Lester family, our neighbors, to produce multiple unique Pinot offerings from their select Dijon, Swan, and Pommard clones. The Pinots reside in first-fire French Oak for 12 to 19 months. Each year and vintage varies until it sings the notes I’m looking for. We strive to represent the understated, delicate nature of this varietal and allow the grapes to express themselves. We are proud of the bouquet each Pinot develops, neither jammy nor ensconced with minerals. We expect the perfect balance of grape, oak, and time. This combination is how we grew our member base and reputation. Grown primarily through word-of-mouth, our members secure the vast majority of our production.
As our reputation, scale, and network grew, we sought and were invited to produce wine from many superior grape producers. We sourced other grape varietals from varied regions, including our own appellation, Rockpile and Dry Creek (Sonoma Coast), and Shenandoah Valley (Amador County) to place our exacting standards on our Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Syrah, and Zinfandel.
As a family operation, all of our vintages are named after grandchildren, grandnieces, and grandnephews who were likely to be seen on the property if you stopped by. We’re proud of the community we’ve created between friends and four generations of family as we’ve opened Pleasant Valley Vineyards. We hope you get a chance to experience our wine and events. The way our wines join a select community of great people is something we are as proud of as the wine itself.
Cathy and Craig Handley