The Old World (France, Italy, Germany, etc) have had centuries to find out which vineyards are the special ones. California, on the other hand is really just getting started.
It is exciting to see, nonetheless, many of the sites now being planted in search of interesting terroir.
Monte Bello Vineyard
In the right forefront is parcel of Mount Eden’s planting. Near the top of the mountain is Monte Bello, which is the home of some of the most compelling Cabernets ever produced out of California.
I distinctly remember being BLOWN away from my first view of this hilltop vineyard. Years back I went to visit Adolf Krupp at his home located at the top of Soda Canyon Road in the Napa Valley. I thought the 40 or so acre vineyard surrounding his house was Stagecoach & was surprised when he kindly noted, “no, this is the Krupp Vineyard“. Adolf then took us to his kitchen where we looked out the window to see this view. “That is Stagecoach Vineyard“. This breathtaking, panoramic vineyard is just under 1,000 acres…..which they essentially blew up the top of the mountain to plant. I marveled at all of the huge boulders & rocks they stacked here & there to make room for the vines. It truly is something to behold.
Down in Paso Robles on the westside, is this amazing silaceous clay (limestome-ish) series of rolling hills which was developed & planted under the watchful eye of superstar winemaker Justin Smith (of Saxum fame) for owner Bill Armstrong. It is amazing how this soil, altitude & cool nights create such buoyancy in their BIG, thick, dramatic red wines.
This is yet another extreme vineyard planted past the western edge of the Santa Rita Hills appellation. In addition to the silaceous clay soils & the gusting cold winds which just pound the site, this vineyard is very densely planted…..7000 vines per acre towards the top of the hill!!!!!
Sanford & Benedict Vineyard
While this site doesn’t look as dramatic as some of the others, it is nonetheless one of the TOP California vineyards for Chardonnay & Pinot Noir. It really is about the rocks that permeate the soil.