Matching grape varietal to appropriate climate is one of the most important variables in creating great wine, and our Sonoma Mountain perch above the Bennett Valley provides a very accommodating home for the cool climate grapes we grow. The cool conditions allow our grapes to accumulate their sweetness (sugar) slowly, so that the vines have time to transfer all of the other physiological elements that create distinct flavor before we pick. Situated west of the Santa Rosa Plain, Bennett Valley is directly in the path of the pacific marine air migrating inland via the Petaluma Gap. This Marine influence results in cool winds on summer days, and a fog that can start in the early evening and linger late into the next day's morning - absolutely ideal circumstances for growing grapes that reach their fullest flavor potential.
Our site's 1,000 foot elevation provides some important grape growing advantages. Our elevation allows our vineyard to peek through to the sun earlier when fog dissipates, and those extra minutes of sun can add up to more consistent grape quality - an advantage that becomes increasingly important in particularly cold vintages, like those we witnessed in 2010 and 2011. Additionally, every 200 feet in elevation reduces the temperature by one degree compared to the valley floor. As a result, our 1,000 foot elevation gives us approximately five degrees of relief on hot days, which is important because grape quality can suffer at higher temperatures. The intensity of sun at higher elevation tends to result in thicker grape skins. Skins are where flavor is derived, so our wines are imparted with a special degree of intensity. Finally, our elevation protects our site from pockets of pooling cool air that can lead to frost at the valley floor. As a result, we experience little to no frost risk, resulting in more consistent crops and no need to use water for frost protection.
Sonoma Mountain was created by volcanic activity, and our site's soils are a mixture of basalt rock and clay derived from volcanic ash. With that said, our vineyard blocks can be quite varied in soil composition. Matanzas Creek, which runs across the Southwest corner of our site, has had a profound influence on the evolution of the site's soils. Over the eons, the creek has run over much of the property. When digging in the vineyard, it is not uncommon to find old creek bed of sand, gravel and round stones eight feet below the topsoil. In addition, one bench of our vineyard is derived from an ancient rock slide and the vines are literally planted on a rock pile.