The two merlot blocks of six acres total, were planted in 1995, using 3309 rootstock and clone number 1 merlot. The spacing is 8 by 10, with a row orientation running east to west, allowing the prevailing northwester lies to blow down the rows. There is good southern exposure with full sunlight on the whole vineyard from sunrise until sunset. Vertical shoot positioning is the trellis type, with bilateral cordons supporting an average of 9 shoots per cordon arm. Soils are thicker sandy to loamy, with rolling contours, and good drainage. The fruit matures evenly over the entire 6 acres with sweet patches in certain areas (kept secret) and on average yielding 4 tons an acre. The fruit has been rated ‘classic plus’ and has successfully been crafted into wine with a bottle price point over $20. In 2008, the first 22 rows of the north half were prepared for and grafted over to Cabernet Sauvignon, using bud wood from our Hay Field Block of cab. This makes for 4 acres of merlot.
The Cab Sav. Vineyards blocks were carved out of the steep hillsides in 1999, with the vines planted March 2000. Five distinct blocks were created, each with its own distinct personality. Considerable time and expense were invested into extensive drainage and erosion control measures due to the hillside nature of these blocks. The Cab Sav. Uses clone number 7 on 110R rootstock, with a 6 by 10 spacing. Vertical Shoot Positioning and bilateral cordons are used as the canopy management system. The fruit form each block is unique and when blended has entered the market in the bottle price point of $30 plus. We now have 8 acres of cab with the grafting over of 2 acres of the north half merlot block.
The five blocks are:
- Gun barrel Block: 1.8 acres on steep, south facing slope, composed of shallow rocky soil, with rows running north-south in direction,
- C’est la Vie Block: 1 acre of an amphitheater like bowl, south facing, with east-west rows, in moist heavier soils.
- Rock Pile Block: 2 acres of rock, rock and more rock, south facing, with east-west rows,
- Hayfield Block: .75 acre of steep, deep dark soil, western facing, with east-west rows.
- Ontop Block: .25 acre of north-south rows planted in fraction able sandstone and shale, on top of a knoll overlooking C’est la Vie Block.
- North Half: 2 acres of grafted Cab on the former Merlot trunks, making a really unique hybrid.
1 acre with 2 separate blocks were planted in 2001 using 6 by 9 spacing. The ‘Meadows Block’ uses 110R rootstock with clone 4, in deep soils, in a southern exposed flat meadow, with rows running north-south. The ‘Steep Block’ uses 3309 rootstock and clone number 5, planted in crusty shale on a north facing slope, with rows running north-south. The vines in these blocks are using a vertical head prune type trellis method, where the vine trunk is supported by a 5 foot steel stake and pruning allows 4-6 canes to grow out from the trunk creating an umbrella like shaped plant. The effort here is to reduce yield and increase intensity of the fruit.
Staring in 2004, under the watchful eye of Bobdog, canine extraordinaire, what was a steep ravine, covered with brush, was developed into the newest block of vineyard. After considerable time and expense, complying with Sonoma County environmental ordinances, engineering and site preparation, the Canyon was planted in Spring of 2006. In this block, Bob decided to use high density planting going to a 9 by 5 spacing, closer than anything else on the mountain. This allows about 1600 plants for this area. As a perspective, this puts 928 plants an acre, while our Merlot is spaced at 545 plants per acre. The varietals here are three: Cabernet Franc:4/332 on 110R rootstock, Malbec: 4 on 100R and Petite Verdot:400 on 110R. (Cab franc being 800 plants, the Malbec 560 and the PV 240.) This is our spice grape area, which will be used by our winery customers for their blending agents, as part of a Meritage program for Bordeaux style wines. The Canyon is its own unique micro soil and climate area. Surprisingly, the soil is quite deep here, having washed down from the over arching hillsides over the last ten thousand years. It also has the sheltered effect of being below the rim, and out of the normal breeze which washes down across the Merlot and Cab Sav blocks. Thus it feels like a little oven in the afternoon, very warm and still. This should create some wonderful flavors in the grapes.