Claude Koeberle and Donald Plumley
About The Estate:
Soliste is the joint venture born of a chance encounter between Claude Koeberle, a three Michelin-starred chef from Burgundy, and Donald Plumley, a businessman and entrepreneur.
Based in Coastal Sonoma County, Soliste is one of California's most avant-garde wineries that has become the darling of the USA's most prestigious three and two Michelin starred restaurants. With listings at The French Laundry (3*, Napa), Per Se (3*, New York), Le Bernardin (3*, New York), Eleven Madison Park (3*, New York), Acadia (2*, Chicago), Single Thread Farms (2*, San Francisco), Mélisse (2*, Los Angeles) - the list goes on and on...! - it's considered by sommeliers across the country to be producing some of the very best Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays in the Sonoma Coast AVA.
Claude, the son of famed pastry chef Paul Koeberle, grew up in Burgundy rubbing shoulders with the like of family friend Henri Jayer, before beginning his apprenticeship under the late, great Paul Bocuse. He went on to continue his training under 3* Alain Chapel before becoming the youngest 3* chef in Paris at La Vivarois.
Claude moved to New York City (Le Cirque 2000) and ultimately to Southern California where he met his wife and fellow chef, Elisabeth.
It was in Irvine, California, where the Koeberle's dog, Gabby, became friends with the neighbour's dog, Chip. The neighbours were Donald 'Don' Plumley and his wife Beth, and they quickly became close friends with Claude and Elisabeth, sharing their love of great food and wine.
Don was born and raised in Southern California, where he graduated from UC Davis, then UCLA with an MBA, his eyes firmly on a career on international business. A global job for a translation company allowed him to travel to all corners of the globe and more than familiarise himself with the wine lists of the World's greatest restaurants.
Don had an opportunity to direct a manufacturing company in Petaluma (Sonoma), which meant moving away from Claude and Elisabeth. In a stroke of fate, they settled near to Beth’s sister who, together with her husband, founded Sonatera Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA.
During a career break in 2005, Don took a bottle of wine from Sontera Vineyard to share with Claude, who saw great potential. Fate again intervened and a block in the vineyard was available which meant a chance for them to make wine their own way, with a serious nod to Claude's native Burgundy. Thus, Soliste Cellars was born.
They produced a mere 140 of Sonatera Vineyard Pinot Noir in 2005, really intended for friends and family but it became a sensation among the local sommeliers and was snapped up by restaurants.
From 2007 production was slowly increased. The goals at Soliste soon became clearly defined and characterised by focus and conviction. There would be no compromise in quality with all farming and winemaking decisions based on what went into the bottle above financial considerations.
This fanatical commitment to quality reaches its ultimate expression in the MonoClone® Pinot Noir program launched with the 2009 vintage. The belief at Soliste was that blending clones, different vineyards, and various cooperages homogenized the aromas and flavours of Pinot Noir. Instead, all Soliste Pinot Noirs consist of a single clone from within a single vineyard site, and then aged in a single cooperage.
Claude’s philosophy is well summarized on the Soliste website. “We are particularly inspired by winemakers who have challenged the status quo to elevate their region or cépage to grand cru level. Central to our philosophy is to be bold, experimental, and take risks; not arbitrarily, but with intent, diligence, and a long term vision.”
As well as continuing to build on Soliste's enviable rollcall of restaurant listings, they have seen a continued increase in demand from private collectors and connoisseurs who have experienced and fallen in love with Claude and Don's stunning portfolio of Sonoma gems.
Four Corners Wine is delighted to be working with Don and Claude, bringing their stunning Chardonnay and MonoClone® Pinot Noirs to the UK for the very first time. Don's work still sees him travel frequently to the UK and he loves nothing more than opening some bottles for new fans and introduce them to Soliste first hand.
In Burgundy, a winemaker often reserves a barrel for their family and friends. They call this special barrel 'Soliste'.
In 2009, Soliste launched their MonoClone® program: using a single Pinot Noir clone for each single vineyard wine - rare even in the top Grand Crus of Burgundy.
Jancis Robinson highlighted Soliste as one of the 'New(ish) names to watch' in The Financial Times.
Because it was two dogs who brought Claude and Don together and led to the founding of Soliste, the corks from Soliste wines display two paws, one on each end.
One of Soliste's MonoClone Vineyard sites