About Sonoe Hirabayashi

Sonoe Hirabayashi came to Northern California Wine Country from Nagano, Japan with stops at UC Davis viticulture/enology, New Zealand and Chile in between. Her teachers include Littorai’s Ted Lemon, Andre Ostertag of Alsace and Steve Matthiasson. She truly “walks the walk” of making wines that express the grape and the place, aiming to be as hands-off as her wines will allow. And with her winemaking knowledge, she leads the wines down a path of not needing “help.” That to me is the best winemaking!

This Six Cloves Chardonnay comes from “Linda Vista Vineyard,” farmed by organic farming poster child Steve Matthiasson. It neighbors Matthiasson Vineyard and Winery in the Oak Knoll District, west of Highway 29. This area too me makes the best Chardonnay in Napa Valley…don’t tell anyone I said that.)

The wine

Six Cloves “Linda Vista” Chardonnay has a round, luxurious mouthfeel with flavors of ripe oranges and green apples, honeydew melon, baked persimmons and clover honey. Creamy and pure, modest 13.1% alcohol, whole cluster pressed, barrel fermented, 100% ML, French and Hungarian oak (light touch…very little new oak).

For a one-two Chardonnay punch, try the Six Cloves “Linda Vista” along with the Read Holland “Peter Martin Ray” Chardonnay 2020.

From Six Cloves owner/winemaker Sonoe Hirabayashi:

I am a small individual producer and creator of exceptional California wines that have a distinct vision and philosophy. My goal is to showcase the purity of grapes of different soils, topography, and climate with my interpretation and unique style. I passionately deliver my joy of grape growing and winemaking to you from California.

The name Six Cloves was derived from my ancestor’s business name, with six cloves designed in their business logo. They once sold medicines in the coastal area of the Japan Sea. Later, they migrated to Northern Nagano and started making soy sauce and miso. I chose this name out of respect for my ancestors and to celebrate the heritage of fermentation businesses that have been continuing for centuries.

I am Sonoe, the Six Cloves’ owner and Japanese woman winemaker. I was born in Nagano, Japan to an apple grower with a sake making and soy sauce/miso fermentation lineage. I was raised with the abundant nature of the Japan Alps, with pure water, produce and plenty of fermentation products.

I completed a winemaking program at UC Davis in California and did a couple of stints in Napa and Sonoma before I headed to apprentice with Kusuda Wines, which is known for their meticulous winemaking techniques with Pinot Noir and Syrah in Martinborough, NZ. Upon my return to the US, I experienced my first harvest in the Russian River Valley at Gary Farrell Winery. Soon after, I took a journey to Casablanca, Chile to work for Montsecano, a joint project of Andre Ostertag from the Alsace region of France and three Chilean artist expatriates, and was exposed to the biodynamic grape growing philosophy. I continued to work for another biodynamic vigneron of Littorai in the Sonoma Coast region. During my tenure, I was influenced by Ted Lemon’s holistic winemaking philosophy, and my experiences helped to establish a basis of my visions in wine styles. Most recently, I worked with Steve Matthiasson in Napa to help establish his new winery and was given an opportunity to embrace wine grape diversity and the joy of expressing one’s own interpretation in winemaking in California.

Throughout my experience, I learned the importance of the winemaker’s role as a mediator to deliver the growers’ passions and dedications, as well as to manifest the sites and grapes’ potential in wines. My goal is to express elegance and to use my unique palate and my heritage to add diverse dimensions to wines of different origins.

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