My grandfather could walk on wine’ gushes Carlo Mondavi over a glass of wine. 2022 marks a decade of winemaking for Carlo at RAEN and he reminiscences about the journey that brought him to this point. Carlo credits everything he has learnt about wine to his grandfather, Robert Mondavi, the antecedent of Californian winemaking. Pivotal in this was a trip to Burgundy in 2002, organised by Robert and a meeting with Anne Claude Leflaive. Inspired by her, Carlo and his brother Dante founded RAEN on organic principles as well as launching the Monarch Challenge with the ambitious aim to rid all Napa and Sonoma vineyards of all herbicides. Though winemaking was in his blood, Carlo tried desperately to avoid his calling, trying to set up an all-natural grape-based skin care line and becoming a professional snowboarder. So, when this self-confessed black sheep of the family realised his calling and returned to the fold, he turned his back on Napa Valley Cabernet (for which his grandfather and father had become famous). Instead, inspired by the wines of Domaine de la Romanée Conti and Domaine Dujac (during the same 2002 trip), he wanted to fight the fickle nature of whole bunch Pinot Noir and capture its ethereal quality, finessed structure and lifted perfume. The name RAEN, an acronym for Research in Agriculture and Enology Naturally, reflects Carlo and Dante’s interest in the environmental research that underpin their project. It is also a reference to Robert Mondavi’s favourite expression that the vine ‘turns drops of rain into wine’.

At Stannary, we have had the privilege of working with the brothers since the 2016 vintage and it has been a joy to see their aspiration to create world-class Pinot Noir become a reality. The focus by the Mondavi brothers is the purity of the fruit. This is evidenced by the fact that using 100% stems and little new oak (usually around 10%), there is nowhere to hide. Though the cool, windy climate of the Sonoma coast produces thick skinned grapes, the wines embody delicateness with a crystalline purity of great Pinot Noir and vivid red fruit aromas as well as a distinct underlying earthy savoury note.

2022 was not an easy vintage for a Sonoma coast winemaker as early frost decimated the quantity of the potential crop, followed by bad weather during flowering and heat spikes during Labor Day, further threatening the yields. As a general rule, for 2022 Pinot Noir yields are therefore down (as much as 40-50% at RAEN), but the resulting wines are exceptional. In his vintage report on the Sonoma Coast, Antonio Galloni writes  ‘Based on what I have tasted so far, Pinot Noir is the real surprise of this vintage. The wines are aromatic, deep and exceptionally well-balanced, with terrific fruit purity and plenty of site character. In some cases, the 2022s surpass the 2021’. Specifically about RAEN, Antonio Galloni says ‘This is a superb set of 2022s from brothers Carlo and Dante Mondavi’. We rather agree! RAEN is a story in wine, made by brothers with vision and we are delighted to celebrate a decade of winemaking with them.

See the 2022 Release