Lawer Estates is a Calistoga-based winery owned and operated by David and Betsy Lawer. Originally from Alaska, the Lawers launched their operation in 2003. With their extended family and the help of an experienced team of vineyard managers and winemakers, they developed Lawer Estates into a winery producing small quantities of excellent premium wine.
The Lawers purchased their vineyard, called Betsy’s Vineyard, some 10 years ago. The vineyard is located in nearby Franz Valley, which is situated between Calistoga and Santa Rosa in mountainous terrain that has access to coastal influences. The vineyard is managed sustainably and is in the Knights Valley appellation.
The Lawer Estates winemaking team consists of veteran vineyard manager John Piña who has almost 50 years of experience managing Napa Valley and Sonoma Wines and winemakers Cary Gott and Kelly Delanni who are veteran winemakers with extensive winemaking experience at wineries in the area.
The winery produces a wide variety of single varietal wines, all sourced from Betsy’s Vineyard grapes except for the Cabernet Sauvignon, which is from Napa Valley. At this stage of development, Lawer Estates’ reds are showing better than their whites. The Petite Sirah, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon are standouts. The first release of Pinot Noir shows promise. The Chardonnay and Viognier are somewhat lean but it was good to see the use of oak was kept in check. We like very much Lisa Lawer’s pairing suggestions and recipes on the Lawers Estate website. Lawer Estates wines are available online at www.Lawerestates.com
Lawer Estates 2017 Viognier Betsy’s Vineyard Knights Valley ($28) 88 The 2017 Viognier displays a bright lemon color and offers a hint of orchard fruit on the nose. It is crisp and steely on the palate with light fruit flavors and a short finish. Lawer Estates 2017 Chardonnay Knights Valley ($28) 89 The Chardonnay displays aromas and flavors of orchard fruit and toasted oak. It has a creamy mouth feel with a slightly dry mid-palate. It spends eight months in new and used French oak barrels showing high alcohol at 14.6 alc. Lawer Estates 2017 Pinot Noir Betsy’s Vineyard Knights Valley ($32) 90 A pleasant Pinot Noir offering aromas of dark cherry/pomegranate with ripe dark fruit flavors on the palate. It is elegant on the attack and has a nice silky mouth feel. Aged 10 months in 50% used and 50% new barrels, it exhibits dark red fruit flavors with hints of oak and 14. 5 alc. A good first release of Pinot Noir. Lawer Estates 2016 Petit Sirah Betsy’s Vineyard Knights Valley ($30) 92 Opaque ruby in color, the 2014 Petite Sirah offers attractive aromas of ripe plum and hints of black pepper. It is soft and spicy on the palate, medium weight with good texture, and firm tannins. Aged 22 months in 25% new French oak, it is tightly structured and would benefit from decanting. Lawer Estates 2017 Rosé of Syrah Knights Valley ($22) 91 This is a magnificent Syrah rosé, one of the better ones tasted this year. It offers lovely fresh fruit aromas and flavors with good concentration and acidity on the palate. This is also a good food wine for fish and poultry. 13.9 alc. Lawer Estates 2016 Syrah Betsy’s Vineyard Knights Valley ($38) 93 A bold tasting and flavorful wine displaying a rich dark red color, with notes of black berries, black pepper and spice. A blend of 92% Syrah, 7% Viognier and 1% Petite Sirah, it is aged 20 months in used oak, and is nicely concentrated with firm round tannins and a little heat from its 15.2 alc. Still a nicely structured wine to drink with bold flavored dishes. Lawer Estates 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($65) 93 The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon displays a lovely opaque ruby color with aromas of black currant and cassis and rich toasted oak which carry over on to the palate. Aged 20 months in 50% new and 50% used oak, it is a vibrant full-bodied wine with firm round tannins and a long persistent finish.