Santa Clara & San Benito Wine Heritage

Tasting notes, varietals, grapes - anything related to wine
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Drew Goin
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#101 Post by Drew Goin » April 12th, 2018, 9:57 am

Although the following piece focuses on the various Italian varieties Harrington Wines bottles from vineyards across the state of California, my focus will remain on the Santa Clara/San Benito region bottlings...


Enoteca Marcella blog
"Harrington Wines: Teroldego, Lagrein, Marzemino, Montepulciano, Charbono, Nebbiolo"
August 31, 2014


"First off, let’s back up and ask why the heck are we at a winery in the middle of the city?

"...It actually makes a good deal of sense for Harrington to be located where it is, given that his grapes come from vineyards situated within a radius of about 100-200 miles in all directions (except west because that would be overly bizarre). There is Carignane from Mendocino, Marzemino from Lodi, Fiano from Santa Clara Valley, Lagrein and Nebbiolo from Paso Robles. The list goes on.

"...Stepping back to the Fiano

"Ooops! We forgot to try any whites. I happened to mention my upcoming trip to Campania so we went backwards for a minute to try his Fiano. His Fiano comes from the Fratelli Vineyard on Hecker Pass Road in Gilroy. When he told me this, I knew it must be coming from Solis Winery, whose Fiano I’ve had many times before, and he said I was right. But 2013 was the last vintage. They ripped out the vineyard a few months ago in lieu of other non-wine-related projects.

"Very, very sad for many of us.

"The Fiano was planted in a part of the vineyard that is closer to Uvas Creek and therefore richer in river stone. The stones gave a nice mineral quality to the Fiano.

"Fiano, Fratelli Vineyard 2012. Santa Clara Valley. Almonds, tropical fruit, and a faint notion of tannins; smooth but dry. A little heavy in the middle but still bright at the end.

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Harrington Fiano
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"Fiano, Fratelli Vineyard 2013. Santa Clara Valley. Nutty, floral, leesy. Bright and clear on the palate and less fruity than the previous vintage. ★★

"A special treat: Trousseau

"'Want to try the Trousseau? It’s not Italian.' Bryan asks.

"'Heck yeah! I’d love to try the 'True-so!' ('The what,' I ask myself, searching the archives of my brain for any knowledge of this grape?)

"Trousseau is a rare dark-skinned grape from the Jura—it’s even rare there! And upon experiencing the Harrington Trousseau wine, I was immediately taken back to the mountains of Valle d’Aosta and remembered the wines made from grapes like Furmint and Cornalin. Those grapes produce dark red wines with pronounced black and red fruit, but also an herbal character, reminiscent of juniper, and the grip of minerals—altogether, the makings of a 'mountain wine.' So while Trousseau isn’t technically Italian, if you look at a map, you can see that the Jura is not really so far from Valle d’Aosta and I bet this grape is related somehow to the Aostan grapes.

"The Harrington Trousseau comes from the Siletto Vineyard, which is the spot of the old Almaden Winery’s experimental vineyards. The former president hung on to the spot and still maintains the vines. (Well Thank You, Sir!)

"Trousseau, Siletto Vineyard. 2013. Cienega Valley. Black pepper, juniper, rose, licorice, a touch syrupy, black fruits, and strong tannins. ★★☆

"...Teroldego

This bad boy comes from Trentino too. But Bryan’s came from the Fratelli Vineyard (same place as the Fiano, above). Although they tore this one out with the rest of it.
:o
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Harrington Teroldego
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"Teroldego, Fratelli Vineyard 2013. Santa Clara Valley. Black fruit with scents of ash and moss; bold on the palate, a bit hot but the spice element helps to carry it up. Probably needs some age.
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Wine & Rocks!
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"...Harrington also makes Charbono, Grenache, Pinot noir, … the list goes on. And I haven’t yet even mentioned his Terrane series, in which he uses oligomeric proanthocyanidins as a natural preservative in place of sulfur. You can find out more about this project on his website. I came across his Terrane Ben Lomond Mountain Chardonnay a couple of months ago at Vino Cruz in Santa Cruz. It’s an engaging wine; it tastes sincerely and tenderly expressive of Chardonnay."


"* I first learned of Harrington Wines about a year ago at the Nebbiolo Festival in Paso Robles. One of Bryan’s trusted cellar helpers, Ken Zinns, was pouring a few different vintages of his Nebbiolo. Our mutual enthusiasm for the grape and other esoteric grapes revealed itself shortly. Over the course of the past year (thank you, social media), I learned that Harrington was making a lot more than Nebbiolo."



Harrington Wines Homepage
Last edited by Drew Goin on August 30th, 2018, 6:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Ian Brand
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#102 Post by Ian Brand » April 12th, 2018, 2:00 pm

Drew Goin wrote:I sorta regret posting the old overview of Mr Brand's work with wine, as I have found numerous newer articles today...

I will probably just keep posting them as I read 'em!
Yeah, that kid sounds like some kinda punk.
ITB - Le P'tit Paysan, La Marea, I. Brand & Family
Salinas, CA
www.ibrandwinery.com

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#103 Post by Drew Goin » April 13th, 2018, 12:09 am

Ian Brand wrote:
Drew Goin wrote:I sorta regret posting the old overview of Mr Brand's work with wine, as I have found numerous newer articles today...

I will probably just keep posting them as I read 'em!
Yeah, that kid sounds like some kinda punk.
44238091001_3722827328001_Wine1-vs.jpg
Surfer
44238091001_3722827328001_Wine1-vs.jpg (12.16 KiB) Viewed 952 times
I mean, look at that beard! Just look at it!
Dang hippie...



The Salinas Californian
"Under the Dome Live!: MoCo Wine Scene with Winemaker Ian Brand"
August 9, 2014

Video Caption: "Dome Live! Host Jeff Mitchell interviews Ian Brand, winemaker, Le P’tit Paysan and Kim Stemler, Executive Director, Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association The Californian.com, and Armstrong Productions, Ellen Wrona, producer."



From May of the same year, the publication featured Mr Brand in the following article:

The Salinas Californian
"Ian Brand Begins Making Wine in Monterey County"
by Laura Ness for Off 68
May 17, 2014


"...For a guy named Brand, he's certainly made plentiful use of his fertile imagination, and the names he's cranked out so far exhibit his wonky, tongue in cheek sense of humor that never misses a beat or someone to beat up on: in a nice way, mostly.

"Named by Wine Enthusiast Magazine to its '40 Under 40: American Tastemakers' in 2012, he's among an elite list of rapidly rising stars in the wine world. He presently makes wines for 12 different labels, including three of his own, among them, the cheeky 'Le P'Tit Paysan,' which sports a portly French gent talking to a rooster. He admits it's an elbow in the ribcage tweak at the pleasantly farming roots of many of his Monterey compadres.

"Yet, as a discriminating winemaker, he's a farmer's best friend, if that farmer happens to be a grape grower who wants to learn a thing or two, in exchange for some mighty nice wine, and a potentially significant increase in grape value down the line. His constant quest is to find hidden vineyard gems off the beaten path.

"...Secrets In The Barrels

"Brand's most interesting wines lie ahead of him, though. Barrel tasting through a hefty number of 2013's and a smattering of 2012's, leave you with the distinct impression that he's out to whip every vineyard into the shape it was almost meant to be. He's like a personal trainer for grapevines. And he's always looking for the hidden microclimates, seeking the ideal spot for varieties like tempranillo and sangiovese, which he says do not belong in the San Antonio Valley. He'd like to see them planted in Arroyo Seco, along with graciano and mourvedre.

"Brand's proclivity for driving unpaved roads in search of gems seems to have hit pay dirt. Promising nascent wines include the 2013 La Marea grenache, from the Spurr (sic) Ranch vineyard in the Gavilans, pure strawberry and cherry candy, with juicy watermelon and a texturally perfect mouthfeel. Also lovely is the old vine grenache from the Besson Vineyard in Santa Clara, and the 2012 sangiovese from Mesa del Sol, bursting with dark cherry, ginger, savory sausage, coffee and tobacco."

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#104 Post by Drew Goin » April 13th, 2018, 9:58 am

Wine Spectator
"Exploring Wine with Tim Fish" blog
"Winemaking on the Edge: With his labels Le P’tit Paysan and La Marea, Ian Brand is blazing his own trail on California’s Central Coast"
by Tim Fish
April 15, 2015


"...Brand is doing interesting work with two different labels: Le P'tit Paysan and La Marea.

"Le P'tit Paysan focuses on the grapes of France and value, for example the Le P'tit Pape San Benito County 2012 ($22), a Rhône red blend that impressively mixes Old World and New. The label also has one of the best dry rosés in California, Le P'tit Pape Mourvèdre San Benito County Rosé Pierre's Pirouette. The 2013 was outstanding and the 2014 is just out.

"La Marea takes its inspiration from the Spanish heritage of Monterey with wines like the Grenache San Benito County Spur Ranch 2012 ($30), which is light on its feet and has notes of raspberry and smoky herb.

"...Today, Brand has settled down. His wife, Heather, who has winemaking experience of her own, works with Brand, and the couple has 3-year-old twins. Brand focuses on his two labels, a few consulting jobs and a custom-crush business that shares his facility.

"Overall, the facility produces 16,000 cases a year and about a third of that is Le P'tit Paysan and La Marea. In all, Brand works with 64 different grape varieties, many of which fall into what he calls the 'What the hell is that?' category.

Brand admits he's drawn to idiosyncratic grapes and what he describes as 'great vineyards at the edge of sensible farming,' remote sites with meager soils, lots of sunlight and coastal breezes. His vineyard sources are mostly obscure locations in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties south of San Francisco.

"'We saw this opportunity here to tell the stories and make wines that suit the place and the people,' Brand said in typical philosophical fashion."


____________________________________________________________________

As the above blog entry mentions, Ian Brand works with several vineyards within the San Benito County area.

According to the website for his three labels:


"In our growing sites we look for shallow, rocky soils, good site selection and proper varietal match with the soil and climate. The often overlooked greater Monterey Bay Area has a plethora of underappreciated, rocky vineyards. Here are a few we love:

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Spur Ranch - lpp website
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SPUR RANCH, SAN BENITO VALLEY-
(Mourvèdre, Grenache)

"Spur Ranch is an 11,000 acre cattle, vineyard and walnut ranch in and around the Topo Valley in the southern Gabilan Mountains. Our portion of the vineyard is situated on a 1000-foot elevation, fifteen degree south facing slope on the south side of Chalone Peak. The soils are high-calcareous content clay over the same mica shist substrate that dominates the Chalone appellation."
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Pierce Ranch - lpp website
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PIERCE RANCH, SAN ANTONIO VALLEY
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Cedar Lane Vineyard - lpp website
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CEDAR LANE VINEYARD, AROYO SECO
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la Belle Rose Vineyard - lpp website
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LA BELLE ROSE VINEYARD, MONTEREY


While these are just some of the sources of fruit for the various wines, consider the additional sites that the I.Brand & Family, Le P'Tit Paysan, and La Marea wines highlight:

BATES RANCH, Santa Cruz Mountains- (Cabernet Franc)

"Located in the southeastern end of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Bates Ranch Cabernet Franc was planted in 1978 in red Franciscan series, volcanic influenced sedimentary rocks."

BAYLY RANCH, Paicines, San Benito County-
(Cabernet Franc)

"Sourced from a south facing sloped bench over the Tres Pinos Creek and the San Andreas Fault. Soils re rocky alluvial deposits with a melange of geologic formations around the fault zone."

ENZ VINEYARD, Lime Kiln Valley, San Benito County-
(Old Vine Mourvèdre)

"Planted in 1922 on a north facing slope on heavily granitic loam, with seams of limestone and dolomite visible from the vineyard. Bud wood was sourced from the original 1860’s planting in the Lime Kiln Valley."

MONTE BELLO ROAD, Santa Cruz Mountains-
(Cabernet Sauvignon)

"Located on the crest of Monte Bello at over 2000 feet elevations looking east over the Lehigh Permanente rock quarry and San Francisco Bay, these vines are rooted in the red Franciscan series soils with limestone substrate."

BESSON VINEYARD, Santa Clara Valley-
(Grenache)

LPP "Wines" page

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#105 Post by Ian Brand » April 13th, 2018, 12:18 pm

Gotta stay busy.
ITB - Le P'tit Paysan, La Marea, I. Brand & Family
Salinas, CA
www.ibrandwinery.com

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Drew Goin
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#106 Post by Drew Goin » April 21st, 2018, 8:51 am

... because raising a family is never too much work? :P :P

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#107 Post by Drew Goin » April 21st, 2018, 11:06 am

I don't think that I covered this large piece of news from last year. Ken Volk's story is worthy of it's own thread (which may very well exist).
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Ken Volk - photo from Volk Wines site
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Central Coast Wine Press
"Central Coast Winemaking Pioneer Ken Volk Retires and Lists Winery for Sale"
May 9, 2017


"After four decades of winegrowing on the Central Coast, industry legend Ken Volk has announced his retirement and put his winery and brand up for sale, according to a news release Monday in Wine Business.

"...Long dedicated to the Central Coast wine growing region, Volk has been instrumental in putting the region on the world’s viticulture map, and bringing international awareness to the unique grape growing climates hidden within Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey and San Benito Counties.

"A wine and viticulture education advocate, Volk also helped fund the pilot winery at his alma mater, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and served as the Chairman of the Industry Advisory Council for 10 years.

"He has trained and mentored countless successful winemakers and industry professionals over the past four decades.

"Of his retirement, Volk said: 'It’s really two-fold. After suffering a stroke three years ago, I continue to face some on-going challenges with my health that prevent me from going to the winery on a daily basis.

“'Additionally, like many of my colleagues who started family-owned wineries, my children have their own successful careers outside of this industry. I look forward to seeing a buyer take the brand to the next level.'"



Volk Wines website's biography on Ken Volk

"...Ken's first professional winemaking experience was at nearby Edna Valley Vineyard, working 'the crush', as harvest is known in the winegrape industry. The following year he convinced his family to back his plans for developing a vineyard. He searched the Central Coast for an ideal location, looking as far south as Santa Barbara and as far north as Santa Cruz. 'At the time, this part of the world was not taken seriously for fine wine production,' recalled Ken. 'But looking at some of the wines being produced at Chalone, Edna Valley Vineyard and Estrella River Winery (now Meridian Vineyards), I knew that wines from the Central Coast could compete with wines from any California region or anywhere else in the world.'

"In 1981, Ken and the Volk family established Wild Horse Vineyard and constructed Wild Horse Winery. Over the next twenty-two years, production grew from 600 to 150,000 cases.

"In 2003, he sold Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards to Peak Wines International, a division of Jim Beam Brands Worldwide. In December of 2004, Ken purchased the 'Original' Byron Winery facility from the Robert Mondavi Corporation and renamed the property Kenneth Volk Vineyards. In 2006 the first wines were released."



While Kenneth Volk Vineyards' website stresses the winery's Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and such, I have been intrigued by its pioneering work with more unique varieties and areas of California.

Kenneth Volk website: "Heirloom Varieties"

"Underappreciated Rarities:

"Almost every grape variety could be considered an 'heirloom', as most have been around for over a millennium. At Kenneth Volk Vineyards, however, we're using the 'rarity' definition rather than the 'antique' one, to categorize rare varieties which we feel make remarkable wine (Malvasia, Trousseau, Negrette, etc.).

"The popularity of the noble varieties (Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Reisling, Sauvignon Blanc) is understandable, as they have the track record of producing great wines in locations other than their championed homelands. The reality is that there are well over a thousand selections of Vitis Vinifera used for regional wine production in the old world.

"Some of these varieties make interesting and memorable wines in isolated areas, but have lacked the promotion of the mass-marketed noble varieties to make it into the consciousness of the average wine drinker. Most of these heirloom rarities are considered 'hand sell' marketing burdens in most channels of wine distribution; the mass consolidation of wine distributors and retailers has made it at best a novelty niche market.

"...We take an advocacy position on these varieties, as they could face extinction if the market forces stay on the current path. It's a challenge, but it's fun and educational for us. In some ways, it's sort of like cross-training, and gives us insight into making better wines in general.

"What can you expect in the future in heirloom varietals? How about Malvasia, Mourvedre, Negrette and Tempranillo for starters?"


Kenneth Volk Wines Currently Available from San Benito County:

• 2011 & '12 Cabernet Pfeffer, San Benito
• 2012 & '13 Negrette, Calleri Vineyard, San Benito County
• NV "Old Vine White", Enz Vineyard, Lime Kiln Valley
• 2011 Tempranillo, San Benito County
• 2012 Zinfandel, Enz Vineyard, Lime Kiln Valley
• 2012 Mourvedre, Enz Vineyard, Lime Kiln Valley (750ml's & Magnums for sale)
• 2014 Garnacha Blanca, San Benito County
• 2012 & '13 Grenache Noir, Rio San Benito Vineyard
• 2011 & '12 Pinot Noir, Enz Vineyard, Lime Kiln Valley


The Mourvèdre from Kenneth Volk Vineyards has been the most talked-about bottling from this pioneering producer by far. The retirement of Mr Volk and the recent boom in popularity of Enz Vineyard fruit may make the 2012 vintage the last from this brand.


VolkWines.com "San Benito County" page:
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Monterey and San Benito AVA Map - from Volk Wines website
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Excellent Quality Copy of the Above Map of Monterey & San Benito AVA's

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Drew Goin
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#108 Post by Drew Goin » April 22nd, 2018, 11:32 pm

Benito Link
"Alba Coast Winery is Dawning a New Name in Paicines"
by Blaire Strohn
February 14, 2018


"Last year Delicato Family Vineyards completed an acquisition of the Blossom Hill Winery from Treasury Wine Estates. The winery, now called 'Alba Coast Winery', provides Delicato with an additional four million cases of growth capacity.
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Alba Coast Winery is in Paicines and has a history of premium winemaking
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"The name Alba means 'dawn' or 'sunrise' in Italian and reflects a new dawn for the pioneering winery, which was established during the Central Coast wine and vineyard development.

"...Donald Wirz, Facility Winemaker at Alba Coast Winery, previously worked at the facility over the past six years joined Delicato in September to help transition them into the new facility and begin storing wine. Delicato has no immediate plans to add additional employees at this time.

"According to CEO Indelicato, no new wine brands will come from the winery, but the company will use the additional capacity to grow Delicato’s premium and ultra-premium wines from the Monterey and Central Coast region such as Noble Vines, Gnarly Head, Z. Alexander Brown, Diora, and Irony.

"Delicato Family Vineyards is family-owned company founded in 1924. Four generations of the Indelicato family have managed vineyard operations and winemaking at their California properties."



Another Link on the Story:


Wines and Vines

"Large Private Wineries Continue Acquisitions: 2017 off to promising start as brands, vineyards and production facilities change hands"
by Paul Franson
April 17, 2017
Last edited by Drew Goin on August 25th, 2018, 9:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#109 Post by Drew Goin » April 23rd, 2018, 1:51 pm

Late last night, I performed my 100th YouTube video search for anything related to the wines, vineyards, or producers from the Santa Clara/San Benito area. Needless to say, my expectations were not very high...

BOOM!! I was rewarded with several short vineyard overviews provided by fellow Wine Berserker and winemaker Mr Ian Brand (Le P'Tit Paysan, La Marea, I.Brand & Family):



"Ian Brand in the Historic Enz Vineyard"

[youtube]F_fdx1trzgA[/youtube]

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#110 Post by Drew Goin » April 23rd, 2018, 2:12 pm

"Ian Brand Fondles Grenache in the Besson Vineyard" :P

Last edited by Drew Goin on August 30th, 2018, 5:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#111 Post by Sean Devaney » April 23rd, 2018, 5:25 pm

I was able to attend the Historic Vineyard Society tasting in SF last Saturday. My favorite wine of the day was Ian's Mourvedre from the Enz Vineyard followed by Sandlands Mataro from Enz.

Also really nice were Stirm Riesling Enz Vnyd and Precedent Riesling.

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#112 Post by Drew Goin » April 24th, 2018, 2:57 pm

Thanks, Sean!!!

I think that the inclusion of other varieties in the 2018 Historic Vineyard Society's tasting was a very good idea.

First, there are some regions of California whose old-vine plantings deserve increased awareness, but the HVS events' prior focus on Zin might have unintentionally led to a degree of competition that obscured sites located far from Sonoma and Napa. Plus, it has to be noted that there already is a Zinfandel Advocates & Producers....

Second, the adding of other red and white grape varieties allows for ancient vineyards whose strengths feature non-Zin varieties to allow their stars to shine. :)

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#113 Post by Ken Zinns » April 24th, 2018, 3:28 pm

Drew Goin wrote:Thanks, Sean!!!

I think that the inclusion of other varieties in the 2018 Historic Vineyard Society's tasting was a very good idea.

First, there are some regions of California whose old-vine plantings deserve increased awareness, but the HVS events' prior focus on Zin might have unintentionally led to a degree of competition that obscured sites located far from Sonoma and Napa. Plus, it has to be noted that there already is a Zinfandel Advocates & Producers....

Second, the adding of other red and white grape varieties allows for ancient vineyards whose strengths feature non-Zin varieties to allow their stars to shine. :)
I think that non-Sonoma and Napa old vines are currently under-represented with HVS. But I did get the feeling that they are aware of this and hopefully they will be reaching out to include old vineyards in other parts of California more than they have to date.

San Benito and Santa Clara were decently represented at the tasting though, with wines from Besson Vineyard (from I. Brand & Family and Birichino), Enz Vineyard (from I. Brand & Family and Sandlands), Wirz Vineyard (Precedent and Stirm), and a couple of unnamed vineyards in Cienega Valley and Lime Kiln Valley (Stirm).
ITB, Harrington Wines & Eno Wines, and Grape-Nutz.com

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#114 Post by Drew Goin » April 24th, 2018, 5:37 pm

Thanks for your input, Ken!!! As someone who has actually attended these events, you ought to know!

BTW, if STiRM offers a San Benito County or its Cienega Valley wine, it'll be from the two vineyards.

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#115 Post by Ken Zinns » April 24th, 2018, 6:20 pm

Drew Goin wrote:Thanks for your input, Ken!!! As someone who has actually attended these events, you ought to know!

BTW, if STiRM offers a San Benito County or its Cienega Valley wine, it'll be from the two vineyards.
I thought that might be the case, although the two wines (Zinfandel and Cabernet Pfeffer) were not vineyard designated.
ITB, Harrington Wines & Eno Wines, and Grape-Nutz.com

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#116 Post by Drew Goin » April 24th, 2018, 9:47 pm

An older article on the sale of vineyard acreage by Donati Family to Pinnacle Vineyards LLC. Part of the property was once a section of the old Almaden Vineyard, and this article also has a bit of information about the Paicines region of San Benito County.


Wines & Vines
"Central Coast Vineyard Changes Hands"
by Paul Franson
August 16, 2011


"Doug Circle, principal of Pinnacle Vineyards LLC, has bought 444 acres of the 1,024-acre Donati Family Vineyard in the Paicines American Viticultural Area. Situated in San Benito County in California’s Central Coast region, the vineyard is 27 miles east of Monterey Bay over the Gabilán mountain range John Steinbeck made famous in East of Eden.

Circle is a diversified ag businessman who has been expanding into winegrapes. ...The Paicines deal doesn’t include a brand or winery, which remain under the ownership of 7,000-case Donati Family Vineyard.

wv_2011-08-16_paicines.jpg
"The Paicines appellation consists of about 4,500 acres devoted to grapegrowing" - Wines & Vines
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"...Zepponi & Co., Santa Rosa, Calif., served as exclusive financial advisor on the sale. Financial terms were not disclosed, but Mario Zepponi said the family didn’t need to sell. 'The family is selling excess land. They’re focusing on their own brand and have far more vineyards than they need.' He added, 'This transaction is good for the industry. It was not a distress sale, but a healthy commercial sale.'

"The Donati family will keep 580 acres, including 47 acres of vineyard plus an estate residence. They plan to develop additional acreage in 2012 to continue the Donati Family Vineyard brand.

"...The vineyard was once part of a large Almadén Vineyards property and adjoins a former Almadén facility now used by Diageo primarily to produce Blossom Hill wines. It sits in a valley 10 miles south of Hollister. It was abandoned as a bulk-brand growing region for lower cost areas, but is now being reclaimed as a source for high-end grapes. Most of the Donati vines were planted since 2000...

"Paicines AVA

"The Paicines appellation is about 17 miles north of Pinnacles National Monument and Park; it consists of about 4,500 acres devoted to grapegrowing. On the western side are the Cienega Vineyards and the Gabilán Mountain range that separates Paicines from San Lucas and King City.

"The San Luis Dam and New Idria and the Panoche Valley are on the eastern edge. The San Benito River forms a portion of the western boundary and continues on through the vineyards.

"The Paicines area is in a wind tunnel of cool ocean air flowing to the San Joaquin Valley. Because of the relative lack of trees adjacent to the vineyard areas, the Paicines area is open to the direct influence of these winds. In the afternoon, Paicines takes advantage of a slight cooling breeze that flows in from the Monterey Valley.

"At night, Paicines is more protected from the evening fog than much of the surrounding area, because of its open location. However, during periods of extremely heavy fog, the Paicines area holds the fog longer than much of the nearby area, including Cienega Valley.

"Elevation ranges from 500 to 1,200 feet above sea level. The average elevation is lower than much of the surrounding area closer to the Gabiláns. The rainfall pattern in the Paicines area differs greatly from that of the Gabiláns: Annual rainfall in the Paicines area is between 12 and 15 inches.

"The 10-year average temperature is around 2,750 growing-degree days, a cool Region II."

"...Donati Family Vineyard is the only brand located in the Paicines appellation, although there are five other vineyards growing primarily Bordeaux varieties. Neighboring appellations are home to Calera Wine Co. (30,000 cases), Chalone Vineyard (40,000 cases), Leal Estate Vineyards (10,000 cases), Pietra Santa (40,000 cases) and DeRose Winery (4,000 cases)."[/i]

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#117 Post by Drew Goin » April 25th, 2018, 1:47 pm

Ian Brand covers the Bayly Ranch, which is filled with "really fun rocks" as well as a significant diurnal swing that apparently produces some high-quality Cabernet Franc:


"Ian Brand in the Bayly Ranch"

Additional information on the web about this newer vineyard:

Vimeo.com "Coastal Aerial Media" Real Estate Video Tour of the Property (pre-vineyard?):

"The Bayly Ranch is located in San Benito County approximately 14 miles south of Hollister along Highway 25 and Panoche Road. It is just over an hour drive to Monterey, Carmel, and San Jose. It is also just a 20 minute drive to Pinnacles National Park.

"The ranch is composed of gently sloping to rolling hills, flat open grassland, and oak studded areas. The ranch is currently used for cattle but is surrounded by vineyards and would make an excellent vineyard property. The property has 2 large irrigation wells and 2 smaller wells. The owners will consider selling parts of the ranch separately."


Land&Farm.com Profile of "Panoche Road Parcel #2 - Bayly Ranch" (pre-vineyard?)

FarmRanch.org site's Profile of the Bayly Ranch:

"Bayly Ranch, Ranche in 15029 Airline Hwy, Paicines, California 95043"

I.Brand & Family "Bayly Ranch" Cabernet Franc:
IBF_Bayly_2015-500x250.jpg
I Brand & Family "Bayly Ranch" Cabernet Franc
IBF_Bayly_2015-500x250.jpg (12.29 KiB) Viewed 832 times
"Sourced from a south facing sloped bench over the Tres Pinos Creek and the San Andreas Fault. Soils re rocky alluvial deposits with a melange of geologic formations around the fault zone. Picked at moderate sugars and vinified whole berry with an 18 day maceration, aged 11months in 6 neutral barrels. 311 cases made"
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#118 Post by Drew Goin » April 26th, 2018, 2:38 pm

DeRose Vineyards in the Cienega Valley sits directly on the San Andreas Fault.

Bloomberg
May 14, 2014
"Tour the Vineyard Watered by Daily Earthquakes"





Wall Street Journal
"Shaken or Stirred, This Winery Is a Big Hit With Seismologists"
by Tamara Audi
November 28, 2009


"Pat DeRose and his son, Alphonse, spent two decades crafting intensely flavored wines from rare, century-old vines. Finally, they have achieved cult status -- for their drainage ditch.

"DeRose Vineyards has become a must-see for geologists, seismologists and science buffs. They come for the San Andreas Fault, which cuts a clear path through the winery's main building. One side of the structure sits on the Pacific plate, the other on the North American. The fault is moving slowly, and tearing apart the building..."


You are going to need a subscription to the WSJ to read the rest. :x

WSJ VIDEO: "Would You Like Some Earthquake with Your Wine?"

__________________________________________________________________

DeRose Vineyards website: "About Us - Vineyards"

"DeRose has 100 acres of vineyards including 40 planted before 1900. All of the old vines are dry-farmed in deep sandy-loam soils on terraced hillsides. Situated directly above the San Andreas Fault, they lie in one of the world’s most active earthquake areas.

"Both sides of the infamous fault are under cultivation. Soils east of the fault line contain fragmented granite and crumbled sandstone, while those west of the fissure are mostly granite and limestone. Relatively young in geologic time, these soils contain very little clay and are absent of unwanted hardpan layers, promoting thorough drainage. They are a wonderful medium for growing ripe, well-balanced grapes.

vineyards_2.jpg
DeRose Vineyards
vineyards_2.jpg (18.27 KiB) Viewed 819 times
"...Principal Grape Varieties

"Zinfandel
The 15 acres of zinfandel vines were originally planted on their own roots in the late 1890s. They grow in an assortment of soil types including a rocky mixture created by the San Andreas Fault and a fine sandy-loam that contains fist-size chunks of dolomite. This brilliant white mineral is mostly calcium, an essential element found in all great vineyards. Head trained and spur pruned, the dry-farmed vines yield only three-quarters of a ton per acre.

"Negrette
DeRose has a handful of 'old-vine' varieties, but none is more exotic than the 115-year-old negrette. These vines are even rare in their native land of France where records show less than 100 acres planted in the Toulouse region on the Garonne River. Adding to the mystique, the variety was called pinot St. George until the BATF changed its name effective with the 1997 vintage. Ten acres of negrette are planted in gray clay-loam soils that contain large chunks of dolomite. The dry-farmed vines, head trained and spur pruned, grow on their own roots and yield about one-half tons per acre.

"Viognier
The three acres of viognier were planted before 1900.* These ancient vines are dry-farmed in deep sandy-loam soils on terraced hillsides. Now on bilateral trellising, they produce wines with enormous concentration and viscosity. Annual yields are less than two tons per acre.

"Cabernet Franc
A temperamental grape variety in many locations, cabernet franc thrives on the DeRose estate, creating heavily extracted wines with wonderful viscosity. The 15-year-old vines grow east of the fault line in loosely packed loam where the drainage is excellent. Trained on bilateral trellising, the six acres of cabernet franc average 3.5 tons per acre."[/i]

* The Viognier was grafted onto existing old vines. The statement that the Viognier in particular is over 100-year-old is slightly misleading (as mentioned previously in this thread).


DeRose Vineyards website
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#119 Post by Drew Goin » April 27th, 2018, 10:26 pm

The mystery of the grape variety known as Cabernet Pfeffer has been addressed previously in this thread. Nevertheless, I have compiled a little bit of info on the issue here.

I also have taken this opportunity to mention another unusual grape, Nègrette.



Mercury News
"Grape Tales: Cabernet Pfeffer"
by Mary Orlin
January 22, 2015
20150120__GRAPE-0201-011.jpg
Cabernet Pfeffer in the Wirz Vineyard - photo from Mercury News
20150120__GRAPE-0201-011.jpg (55.86 KiB) Viewed 807 times
"I first heard of pfeffer (pronounced FEH-fir) at Livermore’s 3 Steves Winery, when I tried their Three Cabs blend last year. 'We’ll jump into a red that might be fun to try,' said Steve Burman (yes, he’s one of the three Steves). 'Three Cabs has a rare grape in it called cabernet pfeffer from Hollister.' Burman says the blend is mostly pfeffer, with cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon.

"Pfeffer adds floral notes and red fruit, plus lots of pepper spice, hence the name. Pfeffer is the German word for pepper. Pfeffer doesn’t have the big tannins of cabernet sauvignon. I’d call it more feminine to the masculine cab sauvignon.

"...Nicole Walsh, the director of vineyard and winery operations for Bonny Doon, believes there are just 10 acres of pfeffer in California. As it turns out, there’s a pfeffer enclave in the Cienega Valley, near Hollister in San Benito County. Burman sources his pfeffer grapes from one of the plantings in the area, Al DeRose’s vineyards, where 4 acres of pfeffer was planted between 1865 and 1905. DeRose makes 250 cases of pfeffer and also puts it into his Continental Cabernet blend (95 perfect pfeffer). He calls it 'one of the unknown grapes.'

"The facts surrounding the origin of pfeffer are a bit conflicting. It was thought to be a cross of cabernet sauvignon and trousseau. Walsh had vines from the Wirz vineyard analyzed by Foundation Plant Services at UC Davis for DNA identification, which found that the pfeffer vines she submitted are actually mourtaou, an obscure French variety. The lab report states that cabernet pfeffer is used as 'a synonym' for both mourtaou and gros verdot, another French variety, in the state of California, but there is no relation to cabernet sauvignon.

"...It was Ruthe Roberts, owner of Saratoga’s Ruthe Roberts Wine Collective, who turned me on to the cab pfeffer made by Bonny Doon’s Walsh under her own label, Ser. The grapes came from Pat Wirz’s Wirz Vineyard, where the vines are more than 90 years old, also in the Cienega Valley — and it was love at first sip.

“'I didn’t have any great expectations,' Walsh says. 'I found interesting floral notes — violets especially — pepper, subtle spice, cranberry, tobacco. I love the delicate quality of the wine, yet it has a beautiful subtle structure (and) tannins that allow it to pair well with red meat, most notably lamb.'"



So, both DeRose and Mr Pat Wirz's vineyards have old-vine plantings of Cabernet Pfeffer in the Cienega Valley. However, according to the following article, only the DeRose property has Nègrette vines.


Benito Link
"Magazine calls San Benito County 'the area's best kept wine secret'"
June 19, 2015


"...On the heritage side of things you have DeRose Vineyards, which occupies a site established by French immigrant Theophile Vaché in the 1850s, making its vines some of the oldest in the state.

"The winery has changed hands several times and, for a spell, its vineyards—like others in much of the county—were almost the exclusive domain of former wine industry giant, Almaden.

“'There’s a lot of great history here,' says vintner Pat DeRose, whose family in 1988 took over the winery after a period of neglect and rescued some 100 acres of abandoned vines from the clutches of weeds and thistles.

"The winery now offers a handful of unique wines, and I was instantly enamored by the exotic, century-old Négrette, whose name means 'little black one.'

"Called Pinot St. George before 1997, legend says Négrette, descended from Mavro rootstock, was transported to France by Knights Templar returning from Cyprus. DeRose’s Négrette is inky and aromatic with stone fruit bursting out of the glass and some spicy nuance.


"...Also engaged in notable new discoveries in San Benito’s wine country are two young winemakers—Ryan Kobza, founder of Kobza Wines, and Nicole Walsh, who has made wine for Bonny Doon for 14 years, and just last year bottled wine for the first time under her own Ser Wine Co. label.

"Both are using an old-vine grape from the Wirz Vineyard in Cienega Valley called Cabernet Pfeffer.

"Kobza and Walsh admit they were intrigued by the grape because it’s different.

“'I love this wine. It’s distinctive and unique, layered with floral, fruit and spice. It’s delicate, but has structured tannin,' Walsh says. Walsh knows of less 10 acres of this extremely rare grape in the entire state of California—all of them in San Benito County.

"Adding to the intrigue, the grape’s origin had been a matter of controversy until last year. A DNA study of the Wirz grapes conducted by UC Davis solved the mystery, finding that they are the French Mourtaou, which in France is sometimes called Pfeffer. The term 'Cabernet Pfeffer' is used only in California, for both Mourtaou and Gros Verdot."

jpg181_1024x1024.jpg
Like Modern Edens book by Charles Sullivan
jpg181_1024x1024.jpg (52.59 KiB) Viewed 807 times
According to Charles Sullivan's Like Modern Edens: Wine-growing in Santa Clara Valley and Santa Cruz Mountains, 1798-1981, Mr William Pfeffer moved to the Cienega Valley area from Illinois in 1869. After establishing 17-acres of vineyards, with one acre devoted to "experimental viticulture and winemaking" (58-59). Aside from performing great work in the struggles against phylloxera, Pfeffer developed new breeds of grape varieties. Pfeffer Cabernet, as it was named, was one of the results. It remained popular in its time but the author asserts that no new plantings were made following Prohibition.

"There is one good plot still standing in Almaden's Cienega Vineyard in San Benito County, planted shortly after the turn of the century. The vines still produce exceptionally fine claret wine, quite tasty and, appropriately, quite peppery. (59)"



The website for Harrington Wines mentions that the winery sources its Nègrette from the Siletto Vineyard in San Benito County. I cannot recall if this vineyard is separate from the DeRose properties or not.

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#120 Post by Drew Goin » April 28th, 2018, 1:39 am

In this video, Mr Brand covers the history of the Bates Ranch and discusses Santa Cruz Cabernet Franc.


"Ian Brand in the Bates Vineyard"

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#121 Post by Drew Goin » April 29th, 2018, 10:32 pm

CreekView Vineyards video from Sean Michael Scott:

https://vimeo.com/49944611

Description:

"CreekView Vineyards is a small estate winery nestled in the east foothills of San Martin, California. With a passion for quality, our wines are meticulously handcrafted in small lots to preserve the utmost excellence in both character and style. Production is also limited, allowing us to bring out the full potential in every bottle of wine.

"Surrounded by the Santa Clara Valley, we are producing classic varietals such as Syrah, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, and Chardonnay along with our premium, estate-grown and bottled Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. Our award-winning vintages paired with our passion for quality illustrates our unsurpassed commitment to excellence.

"Winemakers Gregory and Teri Peterson have been passionate about wine for over 25 years. Establishing a love for winemaking back in their late teens, the two continued to make wines for friends and family over the years. Beginning with 10 vines in the small backyard of their San Jose home, the two hoped they could eventually plant a larger vineyard. It was in 2000 when the two moved with their daughters, Sarah and Crystal to a beautiful ranchette in San Martin. From here the two attended vineyard management classes at UC Davis and started planting small blocks of vines on the property. The Peterson’s then started entering their wines into competitions and consistently received awards including, double gold, gold, silver and bronze. The overwhelming feedback they received influenced them to bond their winery in 2005.

"As a family owned and operated winery, the Peterson family manages all aspects of Creekview Vineyards - from the vine management, to the winemaking process and all the way down to bottling and labeling. Every bottle of Creekview Vineyards wine is meticulously handcrafted to perfection and finesse.

"The 1.5 acre estate vineyard is on the same property as their winery and is planted with Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and some Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec for blending. The Peterson’s also purchase grapes from other local premium growers in the area.

"The winery is open one weekend each month for tasting. Date and times are communicated via our monthly e-mail newsletter. So please send us your e-mail address info@creekviewvineyards.com if you would like to be on the list. Wines can be purchased directly at the winery by calling 408 686-0534 or on our website creekviewvineyards.com.

"Filmed and edited by Sean Michael Williams, SMW Films
smwfilms.com"


http://www.creekviewvineyards.com/home.php

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#122 Post by Drew Goin » April 30th, 2018, 6:09 am

The Wineries of Santa Clara Valley website has updated the winery map:
Map_2018.jpg
WSCV 2018 Map
Map_2018.jpg (28.13 KiB) Viewed 774 times
Click to Download the Santa Clara Wineries Map 2018

According to the website:

"The Wineries of Santa Clara Valley is a non-profit 501c3 Corporation, made up of member wineries who grow and produce wines that are grown in the Valley. Producing wines from other regions fruit is also permitted. The specific purpose of this Corporation is to educate people about wine and wineries, grape growing using sustainable agricultural winemaking and production practices related to the highest standard of quality winemaking in Santa Clara Valley, and to provide educational opportunities and promote public awareness about the cultural heritage, health benefits and enjoyment of wine in a socially responsible manner, and to be recognized as a positive, contributing member of the community.

Wineries of Santa Clara Valley
P.O. Box 562
San Martin, CA 95046"


Santa Clara Valley Winery Roster

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#123 Post by Drew Goin » April 30th, 2018, 9:11 pm

The Silicon Valley Librarian website features a page with a handful of links for wine lovers to explore the history of winemaking and viticulture in the Santa Clara Valley and Santa Cruz Mountains region.

Silicon Valley Librarian: "Wine History"
1280px-USA-San_Jose-Almaden_Winery-Original_Building-1.jpg
Original building of Almaden winery, San Jose, California, USA - from the Wikipedia page
1280px-USA-San_Jose-Almaden_Winery-Original_Building-1.jpg (46.63 KiB) Viewed 764 times
"'Old Almaden Winery' (aka, 'Almaden Vineyards') was the first commercial winery in California, built in 1852. It has been designated as a California Historical Landmark, yet remains closed to the public until seismic bracing and restoration can take place."

> Additional information on the Old Almaden Winery can be found on the Wikipedia page for the "Old Almaden Winery"


Some SVL page Links:

The Allied Grape Growers of California

California Association of Winegrowers 'Education Links'

Friends of the Winemakers (FOWCA) - A local non-profit group working to restore the Old Almaden Winery for use as a Santa Clara County Wine History Museum. Old Almaden Winery was the first commercial winery in California, founded in 1852 with French vines planted by Etienne Thee'. It was passed down to Thee's son-in-law, Charles Le Franc, then to Le Franc's son-in-law, Paul Masson. The shuttered historic brick winery still exists at 1530 Blossom Hill Road in Southwest San Jose, California. FOWCA is seeking funds to restore the original winery, so the site and original building may be used as a wine history museum.

Inventory of Paul Masson Records - Online Archive of California

Like Modern Edens: Winegrowing in Santa Clara Valley and Santa Cruz Mountains 1798-1981, by Charles L. Sullivan. An excellent and well-researched book on the area's history with information often left out of local history records, most likely due to the Prohibition years and their impact on what was recorded about the area's wine and brandy production. (This book is available at many area wineries for far less cost than at online bookstores, and can be found in some libraries using WorldCat, the book title link above.)

• Links to all local wineries and their Web sites are below the 'Santa Clara Valley Wine History' section, at the bottom of this page.

Saratoga Historical Foundation - Saratoga Wine growing and Wineries

Santa Clara Valley AVA - Hstory of the American Viticulture Area appellation

The Vitus California Grape (USDA Fire Service) and images from CalPhotos

The Wineries of Santa Clara County Association website lists some, but not all wineries in the valley, as well as events and tastings."



"Santa Clara Valley Wine History:

"Many area wineries use grapes from vines with a long, award-winning history dating back to the early 1700's through the 1800's, when growers found the native Vitis Californica to be a bit lackluster for wine, and began to import vine stock from New England and Europe.

"Over time winemakers found that the soil on the mountainsides and lime content created better wines than those from the valley floor, so many of today's vineyards are found on the Chaine D'Or ridge near Saratoga and Los Altos, the Evergreen area of San Jose, and in the Santa Cruz Mountains bordering Los Gatos, San Martin, and Gilroy."


Other topics covered on the "Wine History" page from the Silicon Valley Librarian website:

- "The Missions and the Europeans"
- "Sea Captains and Wine"
- "International Wine Competitions"
- "Phylloxera and Prohibition"
- "Lasting Names, Forgotten History"
- "A Wine History Museum and Wine Library?"

- "Local Wineries (and wineries using local vineyards):

"A visit to the wineries below is not complete without asking the tasting room staff about the first vineyard owners and winemakers at each location, who many times won top awards locally and in Europe, when Santa Clara County was the leader in grape and wine production in the United States.

Ahlgren Vineyards (Boulder Creek):
http://www.ahlgrenvineyard.com/

Big Basin Vineyards (Saratoga):
http://bigbasinvineyards.com/visit-us

Black Ridge Vineyards (Los Gatos):
http://www.blackridgevineyards.com/

Burrell School Vineyards and Winery (Los Gatos):
http://www.burrellschool.com/

Calera Wine (Gavilan Mountains/Hollister)
http://www.calerawine.com/

Cinnabar Winery (Saratoga):
http://www.cinnabarwinery.com/

Clos LaChance Winery (San Martin):
http://clos.com/

Guglielmo Winery (Morgan Hill):
http://www.guglielmowinery.com/

Hecker Pass Winery (Gilroy):
http://www.heckerpasswinery.com/

Jason-Stephens Winery (Gilroy):
http://www.jstephens.com/

J. Dowd Cellars (Morgan Hill):
http://www.jdowdcellars.com/

J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines (San Jose):
http://www.jlohr.com/

Kirigin Cellars (Gilroy):
http://www.kirigincellars.com/

Martin Ray Winery (Healdsburg):
http://www.martinraywinery.com/index.shtml
(They use Cooper-Garrod Grapes.)

Morgan Hill Cellars (Morgan Hill):
http://www.morganhillcellars.com/

Mountain Winery (Saratoga):
(historic Paul Masson Vines)
http://www.mountainwinery.com/

Mt. Eden Vineyards (Saratoga):
http://www.mounteden.com/

Rappazini Winery (Gilroy):
http://www.rapazziniwinery.com/info.html/

Regale Winery and Vineyards (Los Gatos):
http://www.regalewine.com/

Ridge Vineyards (Cupertino):
http://www.ridgewine.com/

Roudon-Smith Winery (Saratoga/Watsonville):
http://www.roudonsmith.com/

Sarah's Vineyard (Gilroy)
http://www.sarahsvineyard.com/

Satori Cellars (Gilroy):
http://www.satoricellars.com/

Silver Mountain Vineyards (West of Los Gatos/Summit):
http://www.silvermtn.com/index.shtml

Solis Winery (Gilroy):
http://www.soliswinery.com/

Sycamore Creek Vineyards (Morgan Hill):
http://sycamorecreekvineyards.com/

Testarorosa Winery (The historic Los Gatos 'Novitiate'):
http://www.testarossa.com/the-historic-novitiate/

Thomas Fogarty (Portola Valley/Woodside):
http://www.fogartywinery.com/

Vintagio Wines (Los Altos):
http://www.vintagiowines.com/

Woodside Vineyards (Woodside):
(Historic LaQuesta vines)
http://www.woodsidevineyards.com/
"

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#124 Post by Drew Goin » April 30th, 2018, 10:27 pm

Chad Hinds of Methode Sauvage was interviewed for the Vingard website a while back. I have included highlights that discuss the San Benito and Santa Clara/Cruz vineyards:
14021565_10208534451573049_6910472020679141336_n-1.jpg
Methode Sauvage Vista Verde Chenin Blanc and Bates Vineyard Cabernet Franc - from Vingard website
14021565_10208534451573049_6910472020679141336_n-1.jpg (26.2 KiB) Viewed 762 times
"CHAD HINDS, METHODE SAUVAGE

"Chad Hinds was one of the first people who came to mind. I met him in 2014 when he was working at Bi-Rite in the Mission. I had no idea what he was up to on his days off. Working with Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc, he’s letting the fruit speak for itself and subtly yet distinctly, the wines are developing a resounding voice of their own.


PSB: "Why Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc?

CH: "In my first vintage, I went the route of unusual varieties and outskirt regions; that was part of my experience at Wind Gap. At that point, I was working at Bi-Rite and realized I gravitated towards the Loire Valley. That’s what I like to drink.

"I like tasting the same grape grown in different places. You can see the terroir. For Chenin, I’m working with two vineyards. I have Vista Verde, which is very special. It’s west of Chalone and has the limestone soil. You have the soil that is reminiscent of what you see in the Loire Valley. Vista Verde is unique because they took a spot of the vineyard where Pinot Noir was planted and grafted it over to Chenin Blanc. That’s a situation where you have growers that are passionate.

"The other vineyard I have is in Clarksburg. Not to knock Clarksburg but to get the same pH you have to pick early. In Clarksburg, I like to make something that is simple and fun.

PSB: "What about the Cab Franc?

CH: "I use Bates Ranch in Santa Cruz, Alegria in Russian River and this year for the first time, Alder Springs. Bates Ranch is really cool. Kenny (Likitprakong) does a lot of the farming there and Prudy Foxx is the vineyard manager. It’s very different from Russian River. It’s very savory, red pepper from the beginning where Russian River is fruity from the beginning. I like the Russian River Valley vineyard because it’s very yummy – it has some of the same savory elements but has hints of chocolate. It’s very much like a lean fresh wine but has some of the darker I like of the Bordeaux varietals."



Methode Sauvage website

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#125 Post by Brian Ojalvo » April 30th, 2018, 10:37 pm

I love the Santa Clara Valley. Many hidden gems for sure. Our Fiano was released about a month ago.
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#126 Post by Drew Goin » May 1st, 2018, 2:36 am

Thanks for the heads up, Brian!!!

Can you please share a little bit about the site, and what led you all the way out there to Santa Clara County? I am excited about the new energy injected into the region.

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#127 Post by Drew Goin » May 1st, 2018, 6:15 am

Is Santa Clara County wine culture breaking into the public sphere? The development of the SCV Wine Trail and the recent emergence of many new wineries sound like great opportunities for the region but, as pointed out in the first article, occasionally these gems at the front door of prominent locals escape notice! :o


Mercury News
"Santa Clara Valley Unveils Wine Trail Signs, and a Lot of Wine That Doesn’t Stink"
by Bruce Newman
August 27, 2014


"...Along with neighboring Morgan Hill — the fragrant horse-grazing capital of Santa Clara County — this wine region [Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world] has spent most of the past three decades hiding its light under a bushel basket, to use a suitably ag metaphor. Even the Wine Institute, of which the Santa Clara Valley Wine Association is a member, until very recently didn’t designate the region as an American Viticultural Area on its map of Central Coast AVAs. 'They have Livermore, they have the Santa Cruz Mountains,' harrumphs association President Greg Richtarek, 'but they (didn’t) have Santa Clara.'

"A growing number of signs — 70 of them and counting — suggests that situation is about to change. That’s how many directional signs will be unveiled Friday in South County, designating more than 20 stops along the Santa Clara Valley Wine Trail.

“"We want people to know they can get that quality tasting experience that you get in Napa or Sonoma right here in your backyard,' says Jennifer Scheer, executive director of the county Farm Bureau. 'I think when you see consistent signage every half mile or so, you really get the sense that you’re in wine country. That’s not a sense that people have about our area, but I think it’s one that is earned. It’s part of the agricultural and rural heritage of this area.'

"...Tech-infused wine

"The shortage of premium wines created an opening for upstarts like Goelz — who rescued a vineyard that was about to be bulldozed to build a housing development — and Slater to establish themselves in what had been a stronghold of family businesses, devoted mostly to blending inexpensive jug wines. By last year, there were more than 1,500 acres of wine grapes under cultivation in Santa Clara County.

“Part of the resurgence has been investment from people who made their money in the tech industry and bought wineries,” Scheer says. Clos LaChance in San Martin was founded by Bill Murphy, a former executive at HP; Kirigin Cellars in Gilroy is owned by Covad co-founder Dhruv Khanna; Sheldon Haynie, owner of Lightheart Cellars along with his wife, Jayne, who was in the medical field, is a high-tech engineer with Texas Instruments; John Grogan of Sunlit Oaks was a program manager with Cisco before starting his winery.

"The wine association, which pushed county supervisors to approve the new wayfinding signs to keep potential customers from going down the wrong rural roads, was formed as an effort by the old-line Guglielmo family to make Santa Clara Valley a terroir to be reckoned with.

"...Led by the nose

"Under Goelz, who was previously a management consultant and a dot-com analyst, with a wine and viticulture minor from Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, Jason-Stephens has flourished since being added to the prestigious San Francisco Wine Exchange roster. The winery sold 18,000 cases last year, and expects to sell 30,000 this year. 'We’re one of the only wineries that’s really out there promoting Santa Clara Valley,' he says. 'I’m doing a better job than that whole association is.'

"Slater believes the wine trail signs will be a boon to tourism in the area. He had been living in Gilroy for several months when he began looking for a winery to buy in 2001. 'I got lost trying to find this place,' he says. 'I lived here and I wasn’t aware that there was this corridor with wineries on it. I think that’s an ongoing problem for our area.'

"Even Mike Wasserman, president of the county Board of Supervisors, had to be led by the hand — and possibly the nose — to approving the wine trail signs. 'It’s a whole part of Santa Clara County that, I admit, I never knew existed before,' says Wasserman, who is now a convert. 'I’m dead serious. We have award-winning wineries in South County that are some of the best in the world, and this is going to raise awareness of that.'"


__________________________________________________________________

Mercury News
"3 Great Santa Clara Valley Wine Tasting Stops"
by Mary Orlin
December 29, 2015

"Long before computer chips took hold, fruit orchards and grapevines flourished in Silicon Valley. The region’s fertile soils earned the moniker Valley of Heart’s Delights. Even now, despite rampant high-tech growth, more than two dozen wineries are thriving just south of San Jose in the Santa Clara Valley.

"San Martin is a perfect place to start exploring this South Bay wine scene on a sunny day, with three outdoor tasting rooms — including two that opened only recently — plus a picnic stop for a leisurely day among the vines.

"Lion Ranch Vineyards & Winery

"...The sips: Lion Ranch’s 2013 Viognier ($25) is perfumey with white floral, honey and peach notes. The 2013 Lion’s Share ($23) is a lively viognier, marsanne, roussanne and grenache blanc blend.

"Details: Tastings $5; open on the third weekend of each month, including Jan. 15-17. 645 W. San Martin Ave., San Martin; http://www.lionranch.com

"...Miramar Vineyards

"...The sips: The luscious 2011 ($30) Sangiovese has red cherry fruit and licorice spice. The elegant 2011 Syrah ($30) is full of blackberry and earthy notes.

"Details: Tastings $10; open weekends; 12255 New Ave., San Martin; http://www.santaclarawines.com/miramar-vineyards

"Creekview Vineyards

"...The sips: The 2011 Estate Melodious Red Wine ($38), a cabernet-based blend, is smooth and inky with black fruit. Old Vine 2012 Mourvedre ($30), has a waxy floral nose and sour black cherry notes.

"Details: Tastings $15; open on the third weekend of every month. 12467 Creekview Court; http://www.creekviewvineyards.com
"

_________________________________________________________________
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Stomping Ground Tasting Room
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Morgan Hill Life
"Your Wine . . . with Rachel Traylor Gratale – As Spring Flowers Bloom, the South Valley Opens Six New Wineries"
by Rachel Traylor Gratale
April 6, 2018


"...Nature is not the only thing blooming. There are several new wineries in bloom and opening their tasting room doors this season. Santa Clara County welcomed more than six new wineries in the past two months, plus the tasting room at La Vie Dansante Wines is now open daily from noon to 5 p.m. The wineries are continuing to grow and make a new mark on wines from Santa Clara Valley. The county was once known for having more acres of vineyards than any other county in California. Still, it wasn’t until 1989 that the Santa Clara Valley American Viticultural Area was formed.

"The newest additions to the Santa Clara Valley AVA are Dorcich Family Vineyards, Heller Winery, Calerrain Wines, Church Creek Cellars, J Winston Winery and Verde Vineyards. Each bring their own specialty to the AVA including the unique idea from Calerrain where their goal is to bring you wines from varying terrain to show that each produces a vast difference in taste, smell and appearance...They are joined at The Stomping Ground by another new comer J Winston Winery. John Bannister pays homage to his grandfather by creating big, bold beautiful wines.

"Each of the new tasting rooms are set back in the Cellars Doors of the Stomping Ground, located in Gilroy. They are in good company with well-loved wineries Jason Stephens Winery and Alara Cellars, also located at The Stomping Ground.

"Another husband and wife duo trying their hand at wine making are Bill and Janet Heller. Their vineyards and winery are family owned and operated. They are specializing in Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with an up-and-comer Carignane to check out.

"...The much anticipated Dorcich Family Vineyards is now open and serving beautifully balanced estate grown wines. They stand behind their family traditions as farmers who want to give back to the land as much as they take from it. They pride themselves in being sustainable and environmental stewards of the land. For three generations the family has been farming and producing balanced wine their family is proud of. Check out one of their many varietals from Ankora or the stand-alone Cabernet Sauvignon from Monte Bello.

"Rounding out the list are Verde Vineyards and Church Creek Cellars. Both are located on the east side of U.S. 101 and open their doors during weekends. Church Creek Cellars is focused on delivering premier wines that are bold and fruit driven while achieving a perfect balance and complexity."

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The Stomping Ground logo
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The Cellar Doors at The Stomping Ground website
6500 Brem Lane
Gilroy, CA 95020

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#128 Post by Sean Devaney » May 1st, 2018, 11:58 am

Wow Drew. Just Wow.

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#129 Post by M. Dildine » May 1st, 2018, 12:04 pm

Tremendous job Drew! Here's a Santa Clara (Cupertino) winery you may have overlooked. A small, very good but pricey producer on the way up Monte Bello Road before you hit Ridge, Picchetti (excellent old vine Zin): http://www.picchetti.com
Cheers,

Mike

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#130 Post by Drew Goin » May 1st, 2018, 1:52 pm

Sean Devaney wrote:Wow Drew. Just Wow.
Thanks, Sean!! I am just trying to compile as much info into one place as possible. Also, I do believe that this area (like Contra Costa) gets overlooked a lot.
M. Dildine wrote:Tremendous job Drew! Here's a Santa Clara (Cupertino) winery you may have overlooked. A small, very good but pricey producer on the way up Monte Bello Road before you hit Ridge, Picchetti (excellent old vine Zin): http://www.picchetti.com
Good one, Mike!

I have seen Picchetti mentioned on the forum before, and old-vine Zinfandel grown in proximity to Monte Bello Vineyard does warrant a closer look. :)

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#131 Post by Wes Barton » May 1st, 2018, 5:31 pm

Picchetti is just below Jimsomare. Ridge used to source from there, so there were some vineyard designates from there, as well as blends of the two (Monte Bello Zin) some years.

Picchetti are pretty amateurish, making a lot of flawed wines (EA is very common). They do get some good fruit. Sometimes the stopped clock gets it right.

Also, "Monte Bello Vineyard" is a misnomer, as it's several distinct vineyards scattered up the ridge line. They should refer to it as "Monte Bello Estate Vineyards" or something like that, to be more accurate. (And they should sue all the wineries that use their proprietary name "Monte Bello" rather than the name of the road, "Montebello".)
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#132 Post by Ian Brand » May 2nd, 2018, 8:48 am

Wes Barton wrote:(And they should sue all the wineries that use their proprietary name "Monte Bello" rather than the name of the road, "Montebello".)
And also the city of Saratoga! How dare they call the open space preserve after the hill it's on!
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#133 Post by Wes Barton » May 2nd, 2018, 1:56 pm

Ian Brand wrote:
Wes Barton wrote:(And they should sue all the wineries that use their proprietary name "Monte Bello" rather than the name of the road, "Montebello".)
And also the city of Saratoga! How dare they call the open space preserve after the hill it's on!
Reading comprehension problems? The road is Montebello, not Monte Bello. Some of the wineries do (rightly) use the name of the road, others choose to cross the line onto direct competitor's intellectual property right in their coattail riding.
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#134 Post by Drew Goin » May 2nd, 2018, 5:01 pm

HEY!!

No monkeys jumping on the bed!!!

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#135 Post by Drew Goin » May 3rd, 2018, 1:55 am

Eden Rift Vineyards is located in San Benito County, 15 minutes South of Hollister, California. The winery specializes in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
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Eden Rift Winery
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Eden Rift Vineyards "Wines":

Estate Collection: Rosé of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, & Pinot Noir
Small Lot Collection: "Griva Vineyard" Arroyo Seco Sauvignon Blanc, "Terraces" Cienega Valley Pinot Gris, & "Terraces" Cienega Valley Chardonnay
Reserve: ???

According to the website's "Story" page:

"Under Vine Since 1849 - Eden Rift is among the oldest, continually producing estate vineyards in California. A remote, pacific refuge located under the shadow of the Gavilan Mountain Range, the estate rests on the San Andreas Fault and is part of the Cienega Valley AVA. Only 20-miles from the Pacific Ocean, this site benefits from an ideal, temperate maritime climate as well as the coveted calcareous soils requisite in the cultivation of vivid, energetic Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. An historic, head-trained block of Zinfandel, planted in 1906, still thrives outside the estate’s main residence, The Dickinson House, built that same year."

The History of the Estate:

The property's former owners include Theophile Vache, William Palmtag (Palmtag Mountain Vineyards), Capt. Jules Jacques St. Hubert & John Dickinson, Hiram Walker Company's Valliant label, and the Gimellli family.

Now, owner Christian Pillsbury and winemaker Cory Waller have begun this new project in the Cienega Valley.

"Prior to acquiring this estate, Christian and his team performed extensive research on the estate; the soil aspects, diurnal swings, wind patterns, micro- and macro-climates of each block... and concluded that the calcareous, limestone rich soils would be best suited to pinot noir and chardonnay."
Block-Map-Eden-Rift-Estate-Vineyard-8.5x11.pdf
Eden Rift Vineyards Map
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"Plantings per Acreage:

"Pinot Noir: 89.71 acres under vine, with approximately half (43 acres) currently producing. The plantings highlight the Mt. Eden, Swan and Calera heritage clones, as well as Pommard (4) and 'Dijon' clones 115, 667, 777 and 828.

"Chardonnay: 22.5 acres under vine, with 16 acres currently producing. Clonal selections are focused on Calera, Wente 4 and 72, as well as 'Dijon' clone 76.

"Zinfandel: 0.7 acres under vine of own-rooted, head-trained Zinfandel, planted in 1906.

"Pinot Gris: 3.3 acres under vine of clone 9 on terraced hillside."



Some press on Eden Rift Vineyards and its wines:

Robert Parker: The Wine Advocate
"Time Traveling at Eden Rift"
by R.H. Drexel
December 11, 2017

Mercury News
"California’s Newest Central Coast Wine-Tasting Room: Eden Rift"
by Jackie Burrell
December 14, 2017


Eden Rift Vineyards homepage

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#136 Post by Ian Brand » May 3rd, 2018, 9:46 am

Wes,
You don't have to be passive aggressive. You can come directly, call it as you see it and say what you think.
I did not research enough whether Monte Bello or Montebello was the proper pronoun for the hill. Having seen geographic references to both, and since the two word iteration was the proper Italian usage, when the design came back as you see it, I didn't think much of it. I was more concerned over whether I used 'ridge' or 'road' and went for road as I thought calling it 'Montebello Ridge' or 'Monte Bello Ridge' would be too direct a reference to the other, more famous vineyard on the hill. It's tough because Montebello (or Monte Bello) are both a place name and a vineyard/bottling name, and it's an area that is special for winegrowing (we can go into the absurd character of the American appellation system). The way I named the bottling was the suggestion of the vineyard manager because of some issues with using the actual vineyard name that I don't need to go into here. That I have been told the wine has been picked out of multiple blind tastings as a Monte Bello cab speaks to the power of terroir, as I understand I make the wine in a manner quite different than Ridge. Given what I charge for the wine is moderate for SCM cab across the appellation, and because the idea that I could charge more for a wine labeled 'Monte Bello Road' vs. 'Montebello Road' is downright absurd, the assertion that I'm coattail riding is unnecessary and inaccurate. I'm more than happy to change this after the 15 vintage, especially as we're moving vineyard sources to the other side of Ridge and will need to change the label anyway, and whether it is one word or two words has little effect on the marketability of the wine. I could just label it 'Santa Cruz Mountains' and sell the paltry amount I make at the price I'm asking, but I feel the elaboration of that specific terroir is important.
I understand why you are upset and feel a need to single me out. I've noticed that Harrington continues to use the 'Trousseau' varietal name on a wine that is likely Cabernet Pfeffer, despite this being an open secret. Trousseau is currently a much more valuable wine than Cab Pfeffer (though I expect that to change in the near future) and I feel there is a burden of proof if you want to continue to use that varietal name. I know people who went to jail over similar issues during the white zin mayhem of the 1980s, so this is a legal issue that I'm hoping Brian will get on the right side of, especially given his prodigious work with unsung Italian cultivars. It really is unnecessary. There's a beautiful story about the history of San Benito winegrowing to be told through Cab Pfeffer, as shown in the really fantastic bottlings by Ser, Stirm and Kobza.
Best,
Ian
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#137 Post by Wes Barton » May 3rd, 2018, 4:30 pm

Ian, you aren't the first to have done that, by quite a few years. My objection has nothing to do with you, since it was a pre-existing condition, so to speak. And, for context, you know I'm a big Ridge fan, but have no problem calling them out on weird/inaccurate/dumb moves, like continuing to insist Monte Bello is one vineyard. (Or marketing a short run second tier estate Cab blend primarily to MB futures customers for $65, when the MB futures were $70.)

The Trousseau buzz started right after we'd contracted to buy it, so we were worried about getting poached. The name is of zero concern, since our sales is all about restaurants and retailers hand selling wines they've tasted and liked. We don't want buzz that would bring cherry pickers. If Cab Pfeffer rang true, we would've used it. It would have been preferable. The myth and legacy is intriguing. Of course, now, that's been debunked. Still, some wineries continue to perpetuate known falsehoods about the grape, like being a Cab Sauv cross. Anyway, what we get doesn't resemble any CP I've had over the decades (DeRose, David Bruce, Ser, etc.), and there's a lot of evidence it isn't the same grape. There's a lot of conflicting info, which we review periodically. Trousseau still rings most true, but we'd happily change it if a real case could be made.

If it is the same variety your friends are getting, that's a whole can of worms itself. You know that various genetic tests have matched that to Gros Verdot and Mourtao (not approved names), and that Ken Volk's broader survey showed a match to what most growers across the state are calling Bastardo and Trousseau. (Also, that the match percentages on all of the tests have been well short of 100%). (Note some of the Trousseau producers claim to have sourced the real thing, rather than the legacy stock. Also note, some of the legacy stock could be the real thing, as links in this thread show it was planted in California in the mid-19th century, including in San Benito by Theophile Vache.) The name your friends are using could go the way of Pinot St. Georges. (Which would be ashamed. PSG is a true historical synonym for Negrette. No dispute it was a single variety, unlike Petite Sirah. Banning the name made as much sense as would banning the name Zinfandel.)
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#138 Post by Drew Goin » May 3rd, 2018, 11:20 pm

I cannot speak for the issue of a variety bottled by a winery being of uncertain identity. However, I can offer the words of Mr Charles Sullivan on the "Montebello/Monte Bello Vineyard/Road/whatever" mess.

I realized early on that this thread occasionally would overlap into geographic regions peripheral to the Santa Clara Valley and San Benito County. My hope is that the focus will remain true to its purpose nevertheless.



Like Modern Edens: Winegrowing in Santa Clara Valley and Santa Cruz Mountains, 1791-1981:

"Montebello Ridge:

"... The Villa Maria had begun planting vineyards at the bottom of the Ridge in the 1870's. Their foreman had arrived here from Italy in 1872 and, encouraged by the father's, Vincent Picchetti bought 160 acres above the Villa in 1877 and planted grape vines and fruit trees. In 1896 he built a fine little winery that still stands on the property, now part of a regional park.

"Picchetti was soon followed by other growers: Coreless, Roffo, Bellomi, Fisher, Zabeldano. More important, he was also followed by others interested in winemaking, but with a rather more idealistic attitude toward quality. To the top of the Ridge in 1886 came San Francisco physician Osea Perrone, who bought 180 acres there indirectly from Enrico Bressi, who had homesteaded the place the year before. Perrone established his Montebello Vineyards and built a great winery and summer home, as well as a fairly lucrative wine business.

"The greatest of the first generation Montebello winemakers was Pierre Klein, an Alsatian who came to California in 1875. Four years later he opened the Occidental Restaurant in San Francisco. Eventually in 1888 his skills and reputation placed the management of the restaurant and tasting room of the State Board of Viticultural Commissioners in his hands.

"... Also in 1888 Klein purchased 160 acres about halfway up Montebello Ridge and gradually developed one of the finest wine establishments in the state. He planted Mira Valle to the vines of Bordeaux's Medoc: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petite Verdot. He established his own brand, selling only in glass, and sold mostly to other good restaurants. His approach to viticulture and winemaking was impeccable.

"...In 1895 Klein was persuaded to enter his wine into the Bordeaux Exposition, where he took an honorable mention for an 1891 vintage in which he took little pride. The next year he won medals at Atlanta and Brussels. The success of his Mira Valle Cabernets reached its zenith in 1900 when he won the gold medal at the Paris Exposition. From then on his wine, and that of Emmett Rixford in Woodside, gave the 'Chaine d'Or' clarets of the Santa Cruz Mountains a reputation for excellence that carried through Prohibition and down to the present time. Klein continued his great work until 1910 when he retired, selling off his place in 1913. He settled in Mountain View where, in poor health and grieved by his wife's death, he committed suicide in 1922. Pierre Klein's name is much revered by the winemakers of the 'Chaine d'Or' today. (54-55)"



Although this passage may seem frivolous or off-the-mark, I only intended to point out that, regardless of trademarks or proprietary nomenclature, the history of the Montebello Ridge was beyond well-established prior to the creation of a well-known modern winery synonymous with Montebello Ridge.

I do not believe that any single business has the right to own the history of such an iconic geographic location. Nor am I claiming that this is necessarily what is being done.


__________________________________________________________________


Here's a fairly new article highlighting the area's continuing legacy for high-quality Bordeaux varieties:


SF Chronicle
"How Montebello Road Became California’s Greatest Cabernet Tour"
by Bryce Wiatrak
March 2, 2018


"It is 'the most hallowed ground in California', according to Ian Brand of I. Brand & Family Wines.

"Its terroir 'is some of the most outstanding' in the state, in the words of Duncan Arnot Meyers of Arnot-Roberts.

"Brand and Meyers are talking about vineyards on Montebello Road in Cupertino, where both winemakers buy Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. They both stumbled upon a rare opportunity — the fruit grown here is only scarcely available to outside producers, and it’s some of the most pedigreed in the United States.

"This small sector of vineyards, on a mountain overlooking Silicon Valley, is known widely for Ridge Vineyards’ iconic Monte Bello Vineyard. Ridge, according to the Oxford Companion to Wine, is 'the most internationally admired producer of American Cabernet Sauvignon,' an impressive epithet for a wine that lacks the marketing advantages of a recognizable region — say, Napa Valley — on the label. Instead, Monte Bello and its neighbors lie in the vast Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, a sparsely planted appellation spanning three counties (San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz) from Half Moon Bay to Watsonville.

"Ridge’s name has become synonymous with this corner of the Santa Cruz Mountains, maybe even the entire AVA. Ridge even has the name 'Monte Bello' tademarked. But what most wine drinkers don’t know is that Ridge is not the only property producing beautiful wines on Montebello Road. In fact, the viticultural traditions of this rugged mountainside extend nearly 150 years into the past, and the narratives of the Montebello Road neighbors — names like Picchetti, Fellom, Naumann and Vidovich — are deeply intertwined with Ridge’s.

"What makes the land on Montebello Road so attractive for wine growing? Its climate is cooler than Napa’s, which enables the area to produce Cabernet Sauvignons of greater elegance and structure. Meyers, who grew up in Napa, says he turned to the Santa Cruz Mountains after he 'realized that some of our favorite Cabernet wines were coming from cooler places.'

"'You’re battling nature all the time,' says Roy Fellom, who cultivates a 10-acre vineyard adjacent to Ridge. Eighty mile-per-hour winds blowing from the Pacific, coupled with a large diurnal temperature swing, cause vines to struggle...

"...Vineyards on Montebello Road grow atop the North American plate, although the San Andreas Fault line appears visibly within reach. Longtime Ridge winemaker Paul Draper explains that amid the tectonic activity seawater mixed with gasses from the earth’s core to form limestone, the most coveted soil type for wine. 'With limestone, mountain fruit is more elegant and precise,' explains Brand.

Yet because Ridge holds the trademark for the Monte Bello name, many wines made in this exceptional terroir do not identify the place on their label. (Wineries can legally use the phrase as part of a geographical indication: Fellom Ranch’s Cabernet names 'Montebello Ridge', while I. Brand and Vidovich Vineyards call theirs 'Monte Bello Road'.)

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"Original grapevines that are over 100 years old on a hill overlooking Silicon Valley at Ridge Vineyards in Cupertino." - photo by Jessica Christian, The Chronicle
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"...For a time, Ridge was the only operating winery on Montebello Road. It got some company in 1980, when Roy Fellom planted Bordeaux varieties on his family estate, which looks onto Perrone. 'When we started,' Fellom explains, "it was Picchetti, me and Ridge.'

"The Picchetti property was growing grapes then, but its wine label would not be revived until 1998, when Leslie Pantling signed a long-term lease with the Open Space District to take control of the vineyards and old winery. (Before her, Sunrise Winery had leased the land.) Since then, the winery count on Montebello Road has doubled, as the small growers Naumann, Vidovich and R & W have all launched their own labels.

"With six producers in place, and high-profile clients like I. Brand and Arnot-Roberts purchasing fruit from several of them, will these Montebello Road wineries surrounding Ridge continue to grow in quality and recognition, and will others join them?

"The greatest challenge: 'There isn’t a lot of room for other people up there,' says Brand...

"...That limited supply of grapes means that these wineries primarily vinify in small lots. For them, wholesale distribution is not viable, and several, such as Picchetti, have come to rely on direct-to-consumer sales. While such a business structure can increase a winery’s profit margin per bottle, it can also inhibit more widespread brand recognition — and regional recognition. In other words, these hidden gems may well stay hidden."

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"At Picchetti Winery on Montebello Road in Cupertino, 130-year-old grapevines sit on a hill." - photo by Jessica Christian, The Chronicle
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Last edited by Drew Goin on August 30th, 2018, 5:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#139 Post by Drew Goin » May 3rd, 2018, 11:46 pm

The following article touches on the strengths and weaknesses of commercially successful winemaking in San Benito.


San Benito
"From Jugs to Pinot Noir"
by Dennis Taylor & Patrick O’Donnell
November 3, 2006


"What began decades ago as an area to grow grapes for Almaden’s jug-wine production has evolved – some might say matured – into its own unique wine region with the proliferation of boutique wineries in San Benito County.

"The wine industry of the San Benito appellations – regions indicating that grapes are of a specific kind from a specific district – is well on the way to establishing itself as a viable and dynamic wine-growing region. There are several individual appellations, in the county, including Cienega Valley, Paicines, Lime Kiln Valley and Mt. Harlan. Each of these appellations brings with it specific growing conditions that produce quality grapes.

"'It’s like an artist’s palette. It’s probably the biggest factor that makes San Benito County unique,' said Lee Stipp, director of sales and marketing for Donati Vineyards. 'Probably the second biggest factor that makes San Benito County unique is the content of limestone that exists here. Josh Jensen, [owner of Calera Winery] chose his property specifically for the [content of] the limestone.'

"During the heyday of Almaden, the winegrower had 4,500 acres of grapes planted in this county. Then, during the late 1980s, when Almaden shut down, that number dropped to somewhere under 900 acres. Today, acreage is back up to roughly 3,500 acres, according to San Benito County Agricultural Commissioner Paul Matulich.

"But what is it exactly that makes growing conditions ample in San Benito County?

"Weather is obviously a factor. The warm days and cool evenings play an intricate role in producing some terrific growing conditions.

"The area is a complex maze of mountains, canyons and valleys. The canyons and valleys run east to west rather than north to south, allowing them to channel substantial marine influences into the county from the Pacific Ocean, which is only 40 miles away.

"San Benito County ranges from Region I to Region III in terms of grape growing climate conditions, which makes this location suitable for growing diverse grape varieties.

"...Al DeRose, winemaker at DeRose Vineyards...said that the soil is also a key component. On the DeRose property, which was once part of Almaden, there are several different types of soil, including sandy loam, clay loam and calcareous – or calcium-rich soils that run throughout the property. These types of soils are great for growing varietals such as Zinfandel and Syrah.

"The combination of quality soil and abundant weather helps growers produce quality grapes, but San Benito County still doesn’t get a lot of recognition as a boutique wine destination.

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"Working in the vineyards at DeRose, Teodolo Ruiz picks grapes one bunch at a time." - from Hollister Freelance
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“'Part of the reason that San Benito County doesn’t get recognized as a region is that a lot of people don’t realize it’s here,' Stipp said. 'The biggest reason behind that is the lasting effect of prohibition and the fact that there isn’t enough cooperation.'

"...He believes that for a lot of the growers the mentality is on the farming first, then the winemaking and then the marketing, so the marketing has to play catch up.

“'It starts with the product. I’m proud of what we and our neighbors are doing. I think word of mouth is our most powerful tool. We don’t even have a tasting room, but when we have an event we almost always have 200-300 people out at the vineyard.'

"Kathleen Smith, president of the San Benito County Winegrowers Organization suggested that it is difficult to attract people to the region when they can only taste for a limited period of time without adequate lodgings in the area.

"...Gene Burns, a wine connoisseur and host of Saturday morning’s 'Dining Around with Gene Burns' on KGO radio, said boutique wines are proliferating all over Northern California. He isn’t able to taste as many as he’d like because small wineries, by definition, have limited distribution.

"'There’s no question that this explosion of boutique wineries is a positive for the consumer who is fortunate enough to live within 50 or 75 miles of the winery,' he said. 'They just don’t travel well.'

"...As for the proliferation of boutiques in San Benito County and elsewhere in Northern California, Burns sees the growth as a positive trend for the consumer.

“'The more the merrier,' he said."
Last edited by Drew Goin on August 30th, 2018, 5:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#140 Post by Drew Goin » May 4th, 2018, 6:56 am

Old thread discussing the unrealized potential of the San Benito wine country...

https://www.wineberserkers.com/forum/vi ... it=Pfeffer

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#141 Post by Ian Brand » May 4th, 2018, 8:53 am

The wine Kenneth Volk wine referred to in this thread and that older thread as Cabernet Pfeffer, Siletto Vineyard is the same block that became the Harrington Trousseau. Siletto says that there were some old vines called 'Trousseau' in the old El Gabilan Vineyard, and there are a few vines that look like Trousseau mixed into the old Cabernet Pfeffer at Enz. However, as the four old vineyards in the area exchanged budwood regularly, the fact that no other blocks exist on DeRose, Wirz or Enz makes me think that it's the same massale selection. My impression is that the difference in the wines that Wes highlights has more to do with being on different sides of the San Andreas fault and the differences in soil, vine age and irrigation. I think the Harrington wine still bears strong markers of the variety, if not the same density and grit seen in the Cienega Valley versions.
The Cab Pfeffer name is just a placeholder. We'll be doing more research into it's genetic history this summer, but it looks like it is more of southeastern France origin (like Gros Verdot and Mourtaou) than via the Jura. It also looks like the genetic line might be lost in the old world and the remaining 8-10 acres in San Benito county plus a little budwood that has been sent out in the past two decades might be all there is. As best I can tell, the Gros Verdot was the closest match when Ken sent in samples but as the genetic database has improved, they're getting a better match with Mourtaou, although that is only 96%, which is roughly the same genetic correspondence between humans and chimps.
Stories seem to line up with the genetic material coming through William Pfeffer's nursery as he and Vache were tight. But we're still trying to find out where it came from and if it dispersed to any other parts of the state.
That's what I've gleaned in a couple years of digging. Hopefully the testing we do this summer in concert with the HVS will yield some better answers.
Pinot St. George (negrette) is different than St. George's Pinot, which is actually Pinot Noir that is predominantly from a vineyard farmed by a guy named George, who is real nice. Cheeky.
Ian
ITB - Le P'tit Paysan, La Marea, I. Brand & Family
Salinas, CA
www.ibrandwinery.com

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#142 Post by Drew Goin » May 4th, 2018, 9:03 am

Thanks for the input, Ian!!!

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#143 Post by Ian Brand » May 4th, 2018, 8:39 pm

Probably an opportune time to share that when Ken Volk had the Enz Cab Pfeffer tested, he also had the block at Siletto tested. The samples showed they were essentially the same variety, which at that point Davis stated as Gros Verdot. They have since edited that to being 96% match to Mourtaou on the sample from Wirz, which matched the Cab Pfeffer in their database. I forgot about that little nugget of information... anyway, definitively not Trousseau no matter how you try to spin it. I'll share when we get more information about what it definitively is, but it is a selection of something that has been referred to as Cabernet Pfeffer or Pfeffer Cabernet for better than 100 years, whatever the origin of the vines, and that's the best name we have for now.
ITB - Le P'tit Paysan, La Marea, I. Brand & Family
Salinas, CA
www.ibrandwinery.com

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#144 Post by Drew Goin » May 16th, 2018, 3:18 pm

Every year Alfaro Family Vineyards and Winery offers a "Dragon Slayer Red"*, a value-priced (~$20/btl) blend composed of an ever-changing mix of old-vine grape varieties. While I have not tried any of them, the temptation to make a purchase is strong.

I sent an email to Mr Richard Alfaro to ask him about the vineyards included in the current vintage of the "Dragon Slayer Red". I am including part of my message and his response.



My email:

"...Please let me know if you can help me understand a little bit more about your grape sources for the Alfaro Family 'Dragon Slayer' red wine. I have seen that the varieties and vineyards change from year to year. The current bottling's data sheet lists:

• Sangiovese from 'Gimelli Vineyards', Cienega Valley;
• Zinfandel from 'Adamo Vineyard', Santa Clara County;
• Old Vine Carignan from 'Rositano Vineyards' Santa Clara County;
• Syrah from 'Redwood Retreat Road Vineyards', Santa Cruz Mountains.

"...I would like to think that I am fairly well versed on the vineyards of Redwood Retreat Rd. However, all I have found of 'Rositano Vineyards' is a possibility that the owner is related to Mr Gregory, but the address is wayon the eastern end of the road from the 'Under the Mountain/Lion Oaks/Rusty Ridge Vineyard'. None of the 'Rositano Vineyards' (if my research is correct on the location) on Google Earth appear to be new, or at least not with visibly head-trained vines.

"I am assuming that the 'Redwood Retreat Road Vineyards' are the vines at Fernwood or somewhere nearby. That's just my guess.

"I have not encountered 'Adamo Vineyard' in any of my research on the vineyards of Santa Clara County...."

s-l300.jpg
Alfaro Dragon Slayer Red Wine - image from eBay/Alfaro Family Vineyards & Winery
s-l300.jpg (22.46 KiB) Viewed 531 times

Mr Alfaro's email response:

"Rositano Vineyard is the remains of a larger vineyard property that was broken up and developed into a housing project (Mc Mansions). Most of the homeowners pulled out the 130+ year old head trained vines and planted new vines (or other landscaping). It is off of Redwood Estates Rd. It is only a couple acres. I get all the fruit (10 barrels in 2017).

"The other grapes in
[Alfaro Family] 'Dragon Slayer' are only around 20 years old.

The 2018 'Dragon Slayer' will also have some of my 'Gimelli' Old Vine Zin from 1906. We also get fruit from 'Bates Ranch' (which is up for sale**).

Cheers,

Richard Alfaro
Alfaro Family Vineyards
420 Hames Rd.
Corralitos, CA 95076
831-728-5172
alfarowine.com"



Alfaro Family Vineyards and Winery website


* "Dragon Slayer Red" PDF file download

** I didn't know that the "Bates Ranch" was now on the market. IMHO, the vineyard's increasing profile probably would boost the selling price.

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#145 Post by Drew Goin » May 22nd, 2018, 6:32 am

I reached out to the folks at River Run a few weeks back. Here is the reply from JP at the winery:


"Hello: I don't grow grapes but appreciate good Carignane and Mouvedre. I made 'Wirz' Carignane for about 10 years for my Rhone blend. I vineyard designated the '96 and it got 'best red wine' in Los Angles. The judges ordered 6 cases, remarking that finally someone made vineyard-designate.

"It took over 2 years to sell the 150 cases at $11. Nobody would believe Carignane could be a great wine. So good on you and drink up.

"As far I remember there is an OLD Carignane vyd of some acres - aproximately 4 miles east of 101 in Gilroy on 10th. Some old chicken sheds.

"Good luck.
JP"



I am trying to get more information from the crew at River Run (before the gate closes for good) for the "Carignan Renaissance Part Deux" thread.


River Run Winery website

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#146 Post by Drew Goin » May 23rd, 2018, 6:56 am

UC ANR - IPM: Weather & Climate Observation Centers for Santa Clara & San Benito Counties
santaclara_stations.gif
Santa Clara County Stations (Gilroy NCDC Station)
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Santa Clara County Weather Stations

"Description of Gilroy.A (CIMIS #211, Gilroy)"

"Network:
CIMIS — California Irrigation Management Information System

Observer
Syngenta Seeds Inc.

Location
Holsclaw Road near Gilman Road
County: Santa Clara
Nearest City: Gilroy
Latitude: 37 deg 01 min N
Longitude: 121 deg 32 min W Elevation: 185 ft

Station and site characteristics
• Ground cover: Irrigated Turf

Available data
• UC IPM database records begin/end: September 1, 2009 / on-going
• Reporting interval: Daily
Stored variables:
• Air Temperature, max/min: Daily max/min measured at 1.5 m (4.92 ft).
• Evapotranspiration: Calculated from CIMIS hourly values.
• Precipitation: Daily total measured in a 20 cm (8 in) diameter gauge.
• Relative Humidity, max/min: Daily max/min relative humidity measured at 1.5 m (4.92 ft).
• Soil Temperature, max/min: Daily max/min measured at a 15 cm (6 in) depth.
• Solar Radiation: Daily global radiation measured by Licor pyranometer at 2 m (6.5 ft).
• Wind Speed/Direction, average: Daily average measured at 2 m (6.5 ft)."



sanbenito_stations.gif
San Benito County (Hollister NCDC Station)
sanbenito_stations.gif (9.21 KiB) Viewed 455 times
San Benito County Weather Stations*

"Description of HOLLISTR.C (NCDC #4025, Hollister 2)"

"Observer
HOLLISTER WATER DEPARTMENT

Location
County: San Benito
Nearest City: Hollister
Latitude: 36 deg 51 min N
Longitude: 121 deg 24 min W
Elevation: 275 ft

Station and site characteristics

Available data
• UC IPM database records begin/end: January 1, 1951 / about six months ago
• Reporting interval: Daily
Stored variables:
• Air Temperature, max/min: Daily max/min measured at 5 feet.
• Air Temperature at observation time:
• Precipitation: Daily total measured in 8 inch diameter gauge.
• Weather Type: Observer's estimate of weather condition at observation time.
•Variables with computed averages: precip, air temp"



* There appears to be a vast area of San Benito County that has no Weather/Climate Station... :|

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Drew Goin
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#147 Post by Drew Goin » May 24th, 2018, 11:58 am

The following graphs and information are from the following unpublished book:

A Statistical History of Wine Grape Acreage in California, 1856 - 1992 (download)
by Ernest P. Peninou
Copyright 2000
_20180524_130854.JPG
Wine Grape Acreage of the San Francisco Viticultural District - from Peninou
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The peak year of wine grape acreage for Santa Clara County was 1920, with a total of 62% of the viticultural district's 12,645 acres of grape growing land.

The peak year of wine grape acreage for San Benito County was 1970, with a total of 36% of the viticultural district's 13,694 acres of grape growing land.

_20180524_130752.JPG
San Francisco Viticultural District Total Wine Grape Acreage (1856-1992)
_20180524_130752.JPG (20.24 KiB) Viewed 439 times
Around 1978, the entire Viticultural District had a total of just under 45,000 acres of land devoted to winegrape growing.


Wayward Tendrils website: "Downloadable Viticultural Histories"

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Drew Goin
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#148 Post by Drew Goin » May 25th, 2018, 6:45 pm

Here are a couple of additional graphs from Ernest Peninou's unpublished work:

A Statistical History of Wine Grape Acreage in California, 1856 - 1992 (download)
by Ernest P. Peninou
Copyright 2000

San Benito County: "Total Winegrape Acreage (1873-1992)"
Screenshot_2018-05-24-15-01-59.png
San Benito County Total Wine Grape Acreage (1873-1992) - from Peninou
Screenshot_2018-05-24-15-01-59.png (78.04 KiB) Viewed 425 times
I believe that the increase in land planted to vineyards increased in San Benito County almost single-handedly due to the "Almaden Vineyard". I certainly could be wrong about that, however.



Santa Clara County: "Total Winegrape Acreage (1873-1992)"
Screenshot_2018-05-24-15-03-12.png
Santa Clara County Total Wine Grape Acreage (1873-1992) - from Peninou
Screenshot_2018-05-24-15-03-12.png (73.53 KiB) Viewed 425 times
The marked decrease in vineyard land in Santa Clara County is probably because of commercial and residential development, most recently expedited due to the Silicon Valley boom.


Apologies for the poor quality of my screenshots.

Wayward Tendrils website: "Downloadable Viticultural Histories"

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#149 Post by Drew Goin » May 25th, 2018, 7:01 pm

Gilroy Dispatch
"Sarah’s Vineyard to Celebrate 40 years: Release Anniversary Chardonnay in May"
by Gilroy Dispatch Staff
March 22, 2018


"Sarah’s Vineyard, founded in 1978 by a group of four wine enthusiasts led by Marilyn 'Sarah' Otteman, will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year with a May release of its 'Estate Chardonnay', according to a March 15 announcement.

"Throughout 2018, Sarah’s Vineyard, on Hecker Pass Road west of Gilroy, will be paying homage to its four decades of exceptional wines and hospitality.

1812-Sarahs-Vineyard-A.jpg
Sarah's Vineyard - from Gilroy Dispatch website
1812-Sarahs-Vineyard-A.jpg (33.84 KiB) Viewed 424 times
"On Thursday, May 10, Sarah’s Vineyard will release the new vintage of its 'Estate' Chardonnay, specially designated as the winery’s official 40th anniversary bottling.

“'Sarah’s Vineyard became famous early on for the quality of its Chardonnay; naming the Estate Chardonnay as our anniversary wine honors both the past and the future of Sarah’s,' said proprietor and winemaker Tim Slater...."[/i]


Sarah's Vineyard website

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#150 Post by Drew Goin » June 17th, 2018, 5:07 pm

Library of Congress website
Official map of the County of Santa Clara, California : compiled from U.S. surveys, county records, and private surveys and the tax-list of 1889, by order of the Hon. Board of Supervisors
Published by Herrmann Bros., 1890
default.jpg
Official map of the County of Santa Clara, California, 1890
default.jpg (42.69 KiB) Viewed 393 times

"Description
Relief shown by shading and spot heights. Cadastral map showing drainage, roads, railroads, ranchos, land ownership, landowners' names, township ' section lines, political townships, school districts, school houses, etc. Includes photographs of "Court House at San Jose" and "Lick Observatory, Mt. Hamilton." LC Land ownership maps, 39 Available also through the Library of Congress Web site as a raster image."


LCCN Permalink
https://lccn.loc.gov/2012592102

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