Our History and Philosophy
Goldeneye Winery was founded in 1996, years before the Pinot Noir boom that has reshaped the landscape of California winemaking. But the genesis for Goldeneye goes back even further. In 1990, after fifteen years of making world-class Bordeaux-varietal wines, Dan and Margaret Duckhorn embraced their growing love of Pinot Noir. Their vision for Goldeneye was simple, though not easy. They wanted to found a winery that could make a terroir-inspired expression of California Pinot Noir of equal stature to the acclaimed Merlots they had pioneered at Duckhorn Vineyards in Napa Valley.
The Duckhorns knew that in both the Old and New World, the finest Pinot Noir thrives in very different conditions than Merlot. For Pinot Noir, they believed that true greatness would be found on the cool-climate edges of modern California viticulture where the grape could express varietal purity and an intimate sense of place. Over the next six years, Dan, Margaret and Alex Ryan (who today is CEO and president of Duckhorn Wine Company), explored the potential of fruit from numerous regions, including the Russian River Valley, Sonoma and Carneros. They found what they were looking for in the Anderson Valley.
With ideal clay soils and a marine-influenced climate offering long, mild days and cooling fog and winds, the Anderson Valley appellation had all the ingredients for producing world-class Pinot Noir. In 1996, Goldeneye was founded and the first estate vineyard was selected. A year later, Goldeneye harvested its first grapes, a modest 7 tons of estate fruit, yielding 375 cases of wine, which were released in March of 2000.
Goldeneye's early efforts quickly began to establish new standards of viticultural excellence and winemaking quality for the Anderson Valley. And while these early wines met with acclaim, they were nonetheless thoughtful works in progress. In the years since, this progress has been shaped by new estate vineyards, new plantings of elite clones, the adoption of the most rigorous farming practices and constant winemaking refinements. Today, Goldeneye features the appellation’s preeminent Pinot Noir estate program, which spans the valley and includes four estate vineyards and more than 200 vine acres. Under the Goldeneye team’s stewardship, these vineyards were some of the first in California to achieve sustainable certification through the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. To properly handle these exceptional grapes, Goldeneye designed and built a state-of-the-art Pinot-focused winery, which is one of only three wineries in California to have earned the coveted LEED Gold environmental certification. These advancements and investments have helped to elevate the perception of Anderson Valley to the pinnacle of New World winegrowing regions, while earning Goldeneye a reputation as one of California’s greatest Pinot Noir producers.
Whether it is the estate program with more than 20 clones of Pinot Noir, or the custom, small-lot winery that allows winemaker Michael Fay to maintain the integrity of each vineyard block, Goldeneye champions detail and diversity. This approach has resulted in a Goldeneye style that embodies both the elegance of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir and its deep, rustic power. This style has become the benchmark for the region, and has catapulted Goldeneye to the ranks of the world’s finest Pinot Noirs. Sought after by collectors and served for U.S. presidents, Goldeneye wines have brought the Anderson Valley to the world, while earning acclaim as some of the finest Pinot Noirs anywhere.