2018 Estate Syrah

"The 2018 Petaluma Gap bottling of syrah from Model Farm is from the couple’s estate vineyard. The wine comes in at 12.5 percent octane this year, was entirely whole cluster fermentation and raised in two hundred and twenty-eight liter, used French barrels. The bouquet is pure, youthful and flat out beautiful, wafting from the glass in a complex constellation of red and black raspberries, smoked meats, pepper, a lovely base of soil, intense notes of lavender, a hint of cedar and a very gentle topnote of violet. On the palate the wine is deep, pure, full-bodied and rock solid at the core, with stunning intensity of flavor and grip, ripe, fine-grained tannins and a long, tangy and very complex finish. The aromatic and flavor profile of this wine remind me very strongly of Gerard Chave’s estate bottling of Saint-Joseph back in the day, but it has far more depth and is a more powerful and mineral wine on the palate than that lovely wine from Domaine Chave’s yesteryears. Great juice." 2028-2075. 94

John Gilman, View from the Cellar

"The 2018 Syrah benefits from a much more favorable growing season than the 2017. Bright, fragrant and super-expressive, the 2018 is gracious and light on its feet, yet offers terrific depth. Harvest was a full month later than in 2017. The lasting impression is of a Syrah built on strong aromatic presence." (90-92)

Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media

2018 La Cruz Syrah

"The La Cruz Vineyard bottling of Syrah from Sean and Joanna Castorani is a touch riper than their estate vineyard bottling, as the La Cruz Vineyard is a bit further inland in the Petaluma Gap and does not have the same constant winds here. But, a touch riper is still only 13.3 percent in the 2018 vintage, with the wine again all whole clusters and raised in five hundred liter, older French casks. The wine is more black fruity on the nose than the estate vineyard version, offering up a nascently complex bouquet of cassis, black raspberries, pepper, black olive, hung game, a touch of garrigue and just a whisper of cedar. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, focused and utterly classic in profile, with a superb core, fine mineral drive, ripe tannins and a long, nascently complex and perfectly balanced finish. This is a bit broader-shouldered in personality than the estate vineyard bottling this year, but it is an equally superb example of first class syrah. It really reminds me of a young Côte-Rôtie from a vintage like 1978!" 2028-2075. 93+

John Gilman, View from the Cellar

"The 2018 Syrah La Cruz Vineyard shows a much deeper and richer expression of the Petaluma Gap than the straight Syrah. Layers of nuance and texture reveal themselves with a bit of air. Rich, pliant and explosive, with superb mid-palate depth, the La Cruz is so promising. Black pepper, game, wild flowers and savory overtones from the clusters are all beautifully delineated. This is such a pretty wine." (90-93)

Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media

2018 Sonoma Valley Chardonnay

"The 2018 Chardonnay “Sonoma Valley” from Model Farm is a beautiful wine in the making. The bouquet is pure, precise and still youthful, offering up scents of apple, lemon, pit fruits, salty soil tones, white flowers, fresh almond, lavender and a deft framing of vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is bright, full-bodied and tightly-knit, with an excellent core of fruit, superb mineral drive and a long, racy and still very youthful finish. This is a great bottle of chardonnay in the making, but I would give it two or three years in the cellar and let it blossom
properly, for though it is already quite delicious, the wine is only showing the first vestige of its inherent complexity and there is a lot more to come with a bit of patience." 2022-2035 93

John Gilman, View from the Cellar

"The 2018 Chardonnay shows just how captivating Sonoma Valley can be. Deceptive in its first impression, the 2018 is initially quite airy and lifted, but then reveals power and structure as it opens. Lemon confit, white flowers and orchard fruit all develop nicely, followed by hints of sage and dried flowers that linger on the finish. I can't wait to taste this from bottle. (92-94)

Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media

2017 Estate Syrah


"The 2017 Syrah “Petaluma Gap” from the husband and wife team Sean Castorani and Joanna Wells’ Model Farm is a superb follow-up to their outstanding 2016 version. The brutal heat wave that roared through northern California during Labor Day weekend of 2017 could have really been a problem for Sean and Joanna, but they chose to be patient, let the vines recover and picked slowly and carefully many days after the heat spike, so as to bring in properly ripe and undamaged fruit. Their resulting syrah is outstanding, tipping the scales at a very civilized 12.5 percent octane and offering up a superb and utterly classic bouquet of cassis, black raspberries, smoked meats, pepper, black olive, a fine array of soil tones and a smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and nicely structured this year, with a fine core of fruit, firm, well-integrated tannins and superb length and grip on the complex, youthful and very promising finish. This will need a bit more time in the cellar to stretch its wings than the 2016 version, but it is going to be every bit as stellar in the fullness of time. If you have not yet noticed, Model Farm is making some of the most brilliant syrahs in all of California right now!" 2027-2065. 94

John Gilman, View from the Cellar


"Model Farm was the most pleasant surprise of all the new wines I tasted last year for this report ... The first vintage here was the 2014, and the couple’s 2016 Syrah is another stellar, low octane beauty, coming in at 12.75 percent octane and delivering a gorgeous young bouquet of cassis, black raspberries, smoked meats, a touch of coffee bean, pepper, complex soil tones, a bit of eucalyptus (as well as other, more exotic botanicals) and a topnote of bonfires. On the palate the wine is medium-full, pure and beautifully soil-driven, with a good core, superb intensity of flavor, well-measured tannins and a very long, nascently complex and vibrant finish. This has beautiful fruit, but the backend is driven by its intense minerality and this characteristic augurs superbly well for its future greatness, but give it some hibernation time to blossom. Low fat and absolutely stellar syrah!" 2024-2060 94

John Gilman, View from the Cellar

2016 Estate Syrah

2016 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay


"The wine comes in cool and vibrant, tipping the scales at 12.5 percent octane and offering up a beautifully refined bouquet of pear, delicious apple, acacia blossoms, a touch of fresh almond, lovely soil tones and a whisper of vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is bright, bouncy and intensely flavored, with a medium-full format, good depth at the core, excellent focus and grip and a long, zesty and nascently complex finish. This will age quite well and could do with a few years in the cellar to allow the secondary layers of complexity to start to emerge. Not surprisingly, given that Sean is the assistant winemaker at Rhys Vineayrds, this is indeed, quite Rhys-like in style and potential. An absolutely superb first effort with this varietal!" 2020-2035 92+

John Gilman, View from the Cellar

"The 2016 Chardonnay (Santa Cruz Mountains) emerges from a site planted on own-rooted, Wente Clone Chardonnay. Orange peel, mint, chamomile and lightly honeyed notes all flesh out in the glass. This is a terrific expression of Wente Clone Chardonnay in its texture and voluptuousness. At the same time, the 2016 has lovely aromatic lift to balance things out." (90-92)

Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media

"The 2015 Model Farm Syrah "offers up a refined and classic bouquet of cassis, black pepper, a nice touch of stems, a touch of grilled venison, black olive, dark chocolate and a fine base of soil tones. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, focused and beautifully structured, with firm, ripe tannins, an excellent core of fruit, tangy acids and great backend mineral drive on the long, nascently complex and energetic finish. This is great juice in the making! 2022-2055." 92+.

John Gilman, View from the Cellar

"The 2015 Syrah (Sonoma Coast) is a wild, powerful wine that captures the essence of this cool Petaluma Gap site in its intense, savory personality. Black cherry, menthol, licorice, chocolate and black pepper give this mid-weight, persistent Syrah much of its personality. I would give the 2015 at least another year or two in bottle to soften. I imagine, though, the 2015 will always remain a bit brooding in personality. Bright, saline notes add considerable nuance as the wine opens up with air. Even so, the Syrah is the product of a vintage with freakishly low yields. Some of the stress the vines dealt with is inevitably present in the wine as well. The 2015 was fermented in stainless steel, with 100% whole clusters, and aged in a single 132-liter puncheon." 91

Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media

2015 Estate Syrah


"The 2014 Syrah offers up a truly exceptional and complex bouquet of dark berries, pepper, grilled meats, a touch of espresso, woodsmoke, black olive, a touch of balsam bough, a dollop of stems and lovely soil signature. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied, tannic and laser-like in its focus, with a fine core of fruit, great backend energy and grip, ripe tannins and a very long, tangy and very complex finish. This is still a very young wine, but it is so beautifully balanced that it is already easy to drink this wine in its youth. That said, I would try desperately to not touch a bottle for at least another five years, as this is going to be absolutely brilliant when it is really ready to dink! 2022-2060. 93+" 

John Gilman, View from the Cellar

 "The 2014 Syrah (Sonoma Coast) emerges from a cool site in Petaluma, which, along with the 100% whole clusters, brings out the floral, savory side of Syrah. Black pepper, plums, violets, mint, tobacco, lavender and dark spices are all nicely delineated in this super-expressive, mid-weight Syrah. Grippy tannins give the 2014 a classically austere feel and are going to need time to soften. It will be interesting to see if the 2014 gains a bit more flesh in bottle. Overall, the 2014 is an attractive, mid-weight Syrah with considerable personality, and more, importantly, potential for the future. There is plenty to look forward to." 90

Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media

2014 Estate Syrah



"Is California Syrah Misunderstood?" ​
WineEnthusiast, Virginie Boone

"Meet Your Maker - Joanna Wells of Model Farm"
Midfield Wine Bar, Toronto, CA



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