Vineyard Soil Display at VINO

We reopened our VINO restaurant on October 1, 2015 & still wanted it to be a neighborhood eatery, where people could just come hang out & have some good wine & good food at reasonable prices.  It took 4 1/2 months to redo the place.

Well, there was a wall that needed some “loving”.

This past June while visiting Ancient Peaks winery in southern Paso Robles, our friend Amanda Wittstrom Higgins showed us how they were going to display 5 of their different soils from their Santa Margarita Ranch in their newly renovated tasting room.  Boing!!!  What an idea!….one we looked to also use on that VINO wall.  wall

This is just the start, but will give you an idea of the intent.

I thought of all the restaurants which showcase pictures of the owner/Chef standing next to some celebrity or in front of some iconic restaurant somewhere in the world, which impressed them.  I have also seen other eatery’s featuring pictures of farmers & fisherman they work with.

Well, for us, especially with a name like VINO, we look to feature the soils from some of our favorite vineyards in the world & here is the start.

Why soil?

There are many wines available which prominently label the grape variety.  Many of the resulting wines are much more about the grape varietal nuances.  (Familiarity…..which is really good thing).

In contrast, there are many other wines, especially from the Old World, which are named after their place of origin.  Furthermore, these also showcase that “sense of place” in both smell & taste.  In the most interesting of these cases, the soil the vines are planted in, somehow plays a very critical role in the finished wine’s character.  The French refer to this concept as “terroir“.

With that in mind, the 5 glass pipes on VINO’s rock wall feature soils/rocks from 5 of our favorite & unique vineyard sites.


#1 is schist soil from the seaport village of Collioure, down in southern France.  This is where the Pyranees Mountains dive into the Mediterranean Sea near the border where France meets Spain. Our favorite producer of the area (AND one of our favorite producers from anywhere else for that matter) is Domaine La Tour Vieille.  We love their various bottlings of Collioure, which is why their rocks are up on our wall .  The wines are VERY unique & feature a lurking, masculine, sultry, provocative core though done with grace, suave-ability & surprising deliciousness (as opposed to just being tasty)!  The site where these schist rocks came from is too steep to use any kind of machinery to just add further to the intrigue.  Co-owner Christine Chateau is a VERY insightful, deep though practical thinking, true artisan.

#2 is clay-limestone soil from Burgundy, France.  Beneath this layer is a bedrock of solid limestone.  There is actually a limestone quarry down the road some.  These rocks came from the Premier Cru vineyard of Genellote located above the hamlet of Blagny & entitled to label their resulting white wine as Meursault Premier Cru.  Interestingly, their limestone has some marl to it AND this particular vineyard is located at higher elevation making for VERY different wines than those from the vineyards located below.  I believe this is a monopole for Cherisey, & a real favorite of ours.  We love profoundly stony, soulful, intensely structured, old style white Burgundy like this.  It stirs the soul & reminds me of where we came from in terms of wine styles.

#3 (right in the middle) is fossilized oyster shells from the Santa Margarita Ranch located in southern Paso Robles, 1000 feet in elevation, 14 miles from the ocean.  The vineyard actually has at least 5 different soils types, but the owner, Ancient Peaks winery, is just now getting into a real winemaking groove, with blends from vines in the different soil veins.  We just, for instance, came up with a unique Cabernet blend, named “Pikake” for Hawaiian Airlines’ First Class Service International using a core of Cabernet grapes grown in the oyster shell influenced soils which is very different from their own estate bottling.

#4 is red slate from the Nackheimer Rothenberg vineyard, which is located in the Rheinhessen region of Germany.  Rising from the Rhine River, this steep, rocky/red slate soiled vineyard, in my opinion, is the crown jewel of the region.  Owner/winemaker Johannes Hasselbach (& previously his father Fritz) are producing some of the very best wines out of Germany under the Gunderloch label.  Furthermore, because of the resulting wines’ underlying stoniness (which greatly butresses the wine’s acidity) & the highly refined style make their wines VERY well suited for the kinds of foods, especially Asian inspired, that we have here in the Islands AND also so thirstquenching for those especially hot days.

#5 is black/gray slate from the iconic Wehlener Sonnenuhr, one of Germany’s most revered vineyard sites.  Since Bert Selbach of Dr F Weins Prum is a descendent of the Prum family, he inherited some of the Mosel River’s most hallowed vineyard sites, including this one.  Using grapes from these unbelievable sites, he masterfully crafts some of the most ethereal, airy, finesseful, filagreed  Rieslings out of Germany.   We just love his wines!

We did not label the rocks, because we did not want this to be a museum like piece.  Hopefully, however, these rocks will stimulate conversation.  They also remind & inspire us daily a handful of the true treasures of the wine world.

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