I recently had the good fortune of taking my first trip to the famed Pisoni Vineyards of the Santa Lucia Highlands, above the Salinas Valley. Gary Pisoni was the visionary vineyard planter who put the region on the wine map. He's also a legendary wild man, part Dionysus, part Loki, Pan, you name it. Let's just the man knows how to have a good time.

No time at Gary's property is evidently complete without a bouncy jeep ride over and around his scattered small vineyard plots with such names as Tina's, Mommy's, Elias', and Trap. Many great producers buy fruit from those vineyards: Siduri, Patz & Hall, Peter Michael, etc. But nothing tasted better to me while I was there than the Pinot being made by Gary's son Jeff under the Pisoni label. Gary's other son, Mark, is now in charge of the vineyards. Together the two have made a wine that's large on both fruit and on grace. I couldn't recommend it more highly. Sometimes the Pisoni Estate can be hard to find at retail, though, so I also recommend their second label, Lucia, which can easily be had at K&L.