A relatively large appellation (it accounts for 1/6 of the total planted acreage in Sonoma County) that encompasses both cool climate sub-appellations such as Green Valley and warm areas – Chalk Hill – for example, the Russian River Valley (RRV) suffers from a lack of specificity that makes it difficult for consumers to truly know what the appellation means. Granted appellation status in 1983 and enlarged in 2005, RRV, nevertheless, it is home to dozens of fine Pinot Noir and Chardonnay sites. Four such sites: Dutton-Campbell, Freestone Hill, and Dutton-Morelli Lane, and Saralee’s are extraordinary vineyards, producing fruit that captures the elegance and mystery of these two noble varieties and elicits (in me, at least) a certain wistful wonder at the beauty of it all.
Located near the town of Graton and farmed by the famed Dutton family, the Dutton-Campbell (D-C) Vineyard is our first Russian River Valley (RRV) Pinot site. Though planted to several clones, we have exclusively used the heritage Pommard clone of Pinot for our D-C offerings (the first of which was 2007). This vineyard, like many others in the appellation, is planted on the Goldridge soil series, a well-draining and relatively infertile sandy soil.
Planted to three varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel, this 25-acre site is located near the town of Occidental only a few miles from the Pacific and planted on the Goldridge soil series. The two Burgundian varieties were planted in 1995-1996 and the curiously-chosen Zinfandel (a favorite of the original property owner) in 1935; this extremely cool site, 765 feet above sea level, produces wine with an extremely long, finely-honed finish. The leanest Chardonnay in our Grand Cru Collection, this Hyde Selection (of an old Wente clone) wine, reflects its site and scion material beautifully.
After a wait of five years, we were finally able to source Pinot Noir from this spectacular site located near Freestone. From a 23-acre vineyard planted to nine Pinot clones, we receive the Dijon 115 clone from a 1.25-acre block situated in the toe of this hilly and cold site. With yields of around 2 tons to the acre, we will be able to make about 120 cases of wine. The vineyard has a southern aspect and the cane-pruned Vertical Shoot Position (VSP) trellis architecture is oriented North-South.
Our newest site, Saralee’s Vineyard is the source for three acres of Pinot Meunier (PM), our only source for this extremely tasty mutation of Pinot Noir. Comprised of 275 acres and planted to more than 20 different varieties, this site has been used as a source of budwood for other vineyards. The 3.18 acre PM block was planted in 1989 on Pajaro gravelly loam and Yolo loam. Our first vintage from this site was 2012.