Burgundy breathes in California - Kistler & Dutton Goldfield  Report

I try to visit California once a year, each time I go I focus my attention on one of their great regions. This time I decided to visit two fantastic properties Kistler Vineyards and Dutton Goldfield. 


Kistler Vineyards located in Sebastopol, California was founded in 1978 by Steve Kistler and Mark Bixler. Mark, unfortunately, passed away last year. Kistler produces both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir using Burgundian techniques. They grow their Chardonnay at 10 different sites, however, what is unique is that each vineyard uses the same clone, growing techniques, and the same vinification for all sites. This means that when trying one of their 10 single vineyard Chardonnays you will be experiencing what each terroir tastes like.

Points on Wine - Top Sonoma Wines 2018

Nine different terroirs were tried both at the vineyard and in California, where stocks did not allow for us to try at Kistler. Hudson Vineyard (97 points) was a standout, with a perfect balance between fruit, oak, acidity and wow, what a finish. The finish went on for minutes! This wine is drinking so wonderfully for its age, however, keep it for 5 years and you will be happy you did. For the Pinot Noir's the Natalie Silver Belt stood out with ripe cherry and cranberry along with excellent acidity and a long finish. You just want to keep coming back to the glass for another sip. The future is bright for Kistler and I cannot wait to return.


Dutton Goldfield located 10 minutes down the road, was found in 1998 by two friends Steve Dutton and Dan Goldfield. Two friends who had one aim; to make wine which they could drink at the dinner table. Unlike Kistler, Dutton Goldfield produces other varieties outside of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. They also produce Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc and Syrah. They have vineyards in Green Valley, Russian River Valley, Marin County, Sonoma Coast and Anderson Coast. Dutton Goldfield wines are fresh and ready to drink now, however holding them for a couple of years will only improve them to another level. When comparing these wines to their Burgundy counterparts you cannot help to compare and wonder why you would pay double for the same quality. These would stand up to any 1er Cru in Burgundy. 


Highlights of Dutton Goldfield included the Pinot Noir Fox den (96 points) which showed wonderful ripe cherry, blackberry, elegant and long with gripping acidity. Walker Hill Chardonnay (96 points) with notes of pineapple, lemon curd and a round creme brûlée finish. 

Bottom Line

Both Kistler and Dutton Goldfield proudly showcase Burgundy wine in the heart of California. The wines here are fresh with crisp acidity, both vineyards are focused on the terroir with excellent length. All of these wines make a great alternative to Burgundy wines at a reduced price point for equal quality. They are worth going out of your way for, below see my favourites. 

Kistler Hudson Valley 2015

97 points

This vineyard is located in Carneros on a bed of marine and sediment soil. Wow, was the first thought when I tried this wine. Tropical notes of pineapple, guava gave way to a creamy round mid palate. There is a certain minerality as well which is picked up on the palate. There is so much going on in this wine it is a joy to drink. The finish was long and elegant and lasted minutes. The fruit on this wine is wonderful and is drinking wonderfully now. There is a perfect balance between acidity and depth. 

Dutton Goldfield Fox Den Vineyard 2014

96 points

Fruit forward pinot, fresh notes of cherry and blackberry stand out. Not jammy at all, just pure elegance and class. Caramel and vanilla notes finish with soft tannins and well-balanced acidity. Stunning finish that goes on for minutes. Drinking like a star now but will drink like a superstar in 2-3 years. I could be in Cote de Nuits! 

Dutton Goldfield Walker Hill Vineyard 2015

96 points

This has just been released when I was at the tasting room and what a highlight, wow! Very concentrated ripe peach, guava and pineapple fruit notes stand out. The more the wine is on the palate wonderful notes of lemon curd and lemon meringue pie take over, the finish is medium. This is very well balanced at this age, however, should be kept for another couple of years to really mellow out. Wonderful discovery. 

Kistler McCrea Vineyard 2015

96 points

The McCrea vineyard is located 1000ft in elevation and in a limestone and volcanic soil. Chalkiness in the wine with a fresh finish, very chablis-like. Flower notes of honeysuckle and apple blossom with a flint characteristic. Chalky. This is like drinking a mix of  Chablis Grand Cru with a splash of a Cote de Beaune Premier Cru. 

Kistler Pinot Noir Cuvée Natalie Silver Belt 2015

96 points

The Silver Belt vineyard is located on an iron oxide soil. Dark red with an orange tint color to this wine. Phenomenal concentrated bouquet of red fruits with cherry and cranberry jumping at yours. The further you dive into this wine notes of clove and a delicate spices come through. Enjoy this now, or drink in 5 years and enjoy it even more

Kistler Trenton Roadhouse 2014

94 points

Beautiful notes of honeysuckle, stone fruits, and lemon curd. Good Chablis minerality. Drink now or hold a couple of years for the wine to properly come together. Love the minerality on this wine.

Kistler Durell Vineyard 2015

93 points

The Durrell vineyard is located on a volcanic river bed. The nose is beautiful, I could just smell this wine all day. This is more full, deep and creamy than the other Kistlers, with almond notes. Drink now.

Dutton Goldfield Dutton Ranch 2015

93 points

This wine was a blend of 6 different vineyards. The blend was done beautifully, for this price this is probably one of the best California Chard's you will find on the market. Peaches, apricots, vanilla, and dill rolling around the palate, with a smooth and medium finish. Not overly buttery for a chardonnay, this is more Burgundy style.

Dutton Goldfield Syrah Cherry Ridge Vineyard 2013

93 points

Beautiful dark color for a Syrah, notes of cherry pie, blackberry and vanilla stood out for me. There is excellent depth with further notes of spice and smoke which come through as secondary notes. This is drinking beautifully now. Good smooth tannins.

Dutton Goldfield Pinot Noir Emerald Ridge 2014

93 points

Generous fruit with a nose of dark red and black fruits. The length was elegant with violet rounding off the palate. Spice and nutmeg with a good amount of dark cherry pie notes. Quite jammy 

Dutton Goldfield Pinot Noir Freestone Hill Vineyard 2014

93 Points

This takes time to open up in the glass. Upon opening, you can really get that fresh fruit with spicy notes just on the nose. On the palate, there are notes of raspberries and cherries with a good hit of spice. This still has a couple of years before hitting its full potential. 

Dutton Goldfield Chardonnay Rued Vineyard 2014

92 Points

Notes of lemon and ripe pear on the nose, as you take the first sip you have to wait before the wonderful notes of lemon curd, ripe pear and tropical fruit come out. This is still a timid wine, however, give it time and I know it will sing down the line.

Kistler Chardonnay Dutton Ranch 2015

92 points

The Dutton Ranch vineyard is located on very layered terroir with clay sand and volcanic soil. This wine had a more citrus and acidity profile than the other Kistler wines, more Chablis in texture, herby notes as well. The finish was less impressive than what I was hoping for.

Kistler Pinot Noir Laguna Ridge 2015

92 points

The Laguna Ridge Pinot noir came across with strong cranberry notes on both the nose and palate. Saying this it had a light texture with fresh raspberry pie and a fresh finish. This is very much an early drinking Pinot or one you could store away for a couple of years.  

Kistler Chardonnay Stone Flat Vineyard 2015

92 points

The Stone Flat vineyard is more porous than any other of the Kistler vineyards. Good amount of acidity and citrus notes. Short finish, missing some concentration.

Dutton Goldfield Gewürztraminer Green Valley Vineyard 2016

91 points

Clean, crisp and spicy. Everything you would want with a Gewurtz. Notes of Grapefruit, white flowers and spice. If you are a Gewurtz fan this has everything going for it. Bone dry

Dutton Goldfield Pinot Blanc Shop Block 2016

91 points

Drink this with spicy food or on a very hot day and you will be happy to have bought some. Great Pinot Blanc, floral, peaches, and cream. A joy to drink when it was 36*C outside! Light finish

Dutton Goldfield Zinfandel Morelli Lane Vineyard 2014

90 points


Raspberries, Strawberry pie, and spicy chocolate notes stand out. Overall I find this is a little overdone. Too jammy.

Dutton Goldfield Riesling Chileno Valley Vineyard 2015

89 points


These wines are located in the Marin County which is meant to be one of the harshest environments in California to grow grapes. Riesling was straight and clean with a petrol taste, dry nose with a fruity taste. Less excited by this. 

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