In 1994, my soon-to-be wife and myself moved to the heart of the Russian River Valley. Back then we were surrounded by apple orchards, (hence the name Gravenstein Highway– the main road into our town). As we started raising children, we noted the “razing” of the apple trees and the planting of vines. Those vines would grow to become some of the most prized Pinot Noir in California.

If you live in Hollywood long enough, chances are you are going to make friends with folks in the entertainment industry. If you lived in Detroit back in the heyday, the guys on your bowling team probably knew a lot about making cars. Living in the Russian River Valley, my pals are vineyard managers, coopers, winemakers, stainless steel fabricators and various other tradesmen who are involved in the wine industry. It was only a matter of time before bottles of Pinot Noir from friends and neighbors started showing up at our barbeques. I had never been much of a “vino guy” but as these gems started coming my way, I learned to appreciate the fabulous juice that was being created in my own backyard and soon I was hooked.

A few years later a couple friends and I were kicking around the notion that if we make our own wine we could fill our cellars, (well closets), with Pinot at a fraction of what it would cost to buy it retail. With a favor from another friend we were able to come up with, not just the one ton of fruit that we originally wanted, but four tons of premium Russian River Valley Pinot Noir in a year when fruit was very difficult to get. This was in 2007 and it is considered by some to be the harvest of the century for Pinot Noir in the Russian River Valley. It was with this fruit, some help from a hot-shot winemaker buddy and some wads of cash, that PURPLE PACHYDERM PINOT NOIR was born. (Of course we then found out that making wine–good wine–is a damned expensive venture and should not be undertaken by anyone who has any form of financial common sense).

The notion of CLAYPOOL CELLARS/PACHYDERM wines is that, as folks delve into the world of fine wine consumption, it is important to offer an option that is of the highest caliber yet not overly pretentious. All that being said, this venture has mainly been a great excuse for us to throw some “fat-wing-dinger” parties with eclectic folk, fancy food and amazing juice.

Now that we are on to our 2012 release, we are finding that the hiring of cellar master extraordinaire Ross Cobb, and his immensely talented partner Katy Wilson, has been a slam-dunk move in elevating the quality of the CLAYPOOL CELLARS pinots. Having altered our focus more towards the Sonoma Coast and its glorious fruit, our wines are leaner and more delicate than ever before. Though we do still maintain a foothold in the Russian River Valley with some grapes coming from the Moore vineyard as well as our flagship Hurst vineyard, the Burgundian-minded approach of Ross and Katy give these historically fuller-bodied grapes a softer edge.

Once again, I hope you enjoy the product of our toil and, me being a picky bastard, you should take comfort in the notion that you are drinking from my own personal stash.

Les Claypool



pur·ple [pur-puhl]
1. any color having components of both red and blue, such as lavender, especially one deep in tone.
1. imperial, regal, royal, majestic or princely.
2. noble.
pach·y·derm   [pak-i-durm]
1. any of the thick-skinned, nonruminant ungulates, as the elephant, hippopotamus, and rhinoceros.
2. an elephant.
3. a person who is not sensitive to criticism, ridicule, etc.


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