Anderson Valley vs Yorkville Highlands soils

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Paul Gordon
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Anderson Valley vs Yorkville Highlands soils

#1 Post by Paul Gordon » March 20th, 2020, 7:05 pm

This post is a little self-serving. I do not usually post directly concerning our wines but I thought comments from Jancis Robinson in her Financial Times were very interesting.
The article is here - https://www.ft.com/content/697117ac-67e ... 9Y9ZCGOZmw
She mentions that - one Anderson Valley grower dismissed Yorkville Highlands as “a geological mishmash”. I am struck by this because my favorite AV wines (including ones that we have made) have come from soils that are closer to our own, Yorkville soils. i.e. more metamorphic, less fertile. I am thinking about Bearwallow, Kiser and Cerise, all having more heterogeneous, harder soils.
What do others think?

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Re: Anderson Valley vs Yorkville Highlands soils

#2 Post by Brian Tuite » March 21st, 2020, 7:02 am

Funny you mention that because I had the opportunity to visit both Kiser and Halcon vineyards on the same day a few years back and its interesting how these two sites so far removed from one another can have such similar soil compositions. Is it from the Highlands being land that was uplifted by volcanic or seismic activity eons ago?

The rock in the soil at Halcon had a green hue to it. I don’t recall that at Kiser although Kiser En Haut was extremely rocky.

Your link leads to a paywall.
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Re: Anderson Valley vs Yorkville Highlands soils

#3 Post by Paul Gordon » March 21st, 2020, 8:36 am

Brian Tuite wrote:
March 21st, 2020, 7:02 am
Funny you mention that because I had the opportunity to visit both Kiser and Halcon vineyards on the same day a few years back and its interesting how these two sites so far removed from one another can have such similar soil compositions. Is it from the Highlands being land that was uplifted by volcanic or seismic activity eons ago?

The rock in the soil at Halcon had a green hue to it. I don’t recall that at Kiser although Kiser En Haut was extremely rocky.

Your link leads to a paywall.
Looks like pay-wall went into place after 24hrs. Here is the relevant text:

"Mendocino is the general appellation here and it’s how most of the wines made in the wider, warmer valley to the east are sold. But on this last visit, I found myself fascinated by Yorkville Highlands, the appellation to the immediate south of Anderson Valley, and even more fascinated by Mendocino Ridge, which lies between Anderson Valley and the chilly Pacific well to the west. Mendocino Ridge is known as “Islands in the Sky” because it applies exclusively to land above 1,200ft — hills that are generally above the fog line but fully exposed to marine onslaughts. At 2,600ft, the Mariah Vineyard is the second highest in California, yet it’s a stone’s throw from the ocean. A newish part-time operation Minus Tide has made some particularly promising wines from this and other Mendocino Ridge vineyards. One Anderson Valley grower dismissed Yorkville Highlands as “a geological mishmash”. But I tasted some pretty inspiring Syrah grown at 2,500ft on fashionable schist by a British couple who work in Silicon Valley during the week and tend their Halcon vines and wines at weekends. They fell in love with Rhône wines on a trip there with British Rhône specialist wine writer John Livingstone-Learmonth and are doing their best at emulation."

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Re: Anderson Valley vs Yorkville Highlands soils

#4 Post by Dan Sch » March 21st, 2020, 8:40 am

Paul,

Didn’t know about Cerise having the same composition as yours, but interesting given that it has been my favorite vineyard over the years. Do you know if Roma’s and Deer Meadows and Demuth are the same, too? Quite like wines from those as well.

Great mention for your Syrah! Along with the Valenti from Drew, my favorite in all of Cali. And I’d give the nod to yours out of those two.

Also interesting that in this and so many other articles about Anderson Valley, they seem to taste a very high number of wines from producers who aren’t located there...I recall a NYT one in which 2/3 of all wines tasted were outside producers with no presence in AV. At least this one mentions Drew, Witching Stick and Husch. Though to have no Baxter or Phillips Hill is a bit surprising to me. Oh well.
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Re: Anderson Valley vs Yorkville Highlands soils

#5 Post by Mel Knox » March 21st, 2020, 10:38 am

Why would a 'geological mishmash' be bad for wine grapes?? And would not a key difference between the Anderson Valley and the Yorkville Highlands be the climate??

There are really two articles on JR s website on this subject and I read the other one at first, only just now discovering the one cited above. The 'tasting article' includes Baxter and other wineries. One of the articles might be free. Try going directly to her website.

Having made Anderson Valley Pinot and Chardonnay with Au Bon Climat in the earlier part of this century, I have generally regarded the Yorkville Highlands as a way station rather than a destination. Maybe if I had made wine with Bob Lindquist of Qupe, I would have stopped ! I helped make a port wine with JW Morris winery in the '70s and if we went back to that, I would have stopped at the winery featuring all the Porto Varieties.
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Re: Anderson Valley vs Yorkville Highlands soils

#6 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » March 21st, 2020, 10:45 am

Looking forward to trying your wines Paul. The Yorkville Highlands interest me specifically because of the soils.
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Re: Anderson Valley vs Yorkville Highlands soils

#7 Post by GregT » March 21st, 2020, 11:34 am

Mel Knox wrote:
March 21st, 2020, 10:38 am
Why would a 'geological mishmash' be bad for wine grapes?? And would not a key difference between the Anderson Valley and the Yorkville Highlands be the climate??
Exactly what I was wondering. And maybe people pay too much attention to the composition of the soil anyway when the climate, drainage, humidity, water and daily temperatures may be equally or more important.

But congrats Paul. And isolated as you are up there, you're a veritable social distancing pioneer!
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Re: Anderson Valley vs Yorkville Highlands soils

#8 Post by Paul Gordon » March 21st, 2020, 6:53 pm

Dan Sch wrote:
March 21st, 2020, 8:40 am
Paul,

Didn’t know about Cerise having the same composition as yours, but interesting given that it has been my favorite vineyard over the years. Do you know if Roma’s and Deer Meadows and Demuth are the same, too? Quite like wines from those as well.

Great mention for your Syrah! Along with the Valenti from Drew, my favorite in all of Cali. And I’d give the nod to yours out of those two.

Also interesting that in this and so many other articles about Anderson Valley, they seem to taste a very high number of wines from producers who aren’t located there...I recall a NYT one in which 2/3 of all wines tasted were outside producers with no presence in AV. At least this one mentions Drew, Witching Stick and Husch. Though to have no Baxter or Phillips Hill is a bit surprising to me. Oh well.
Dan

Cerise soils not exactly the same as ours but more varied, metamorphic when compared to the valley floor. Yes I suspect Roma's, Deer Meadow and Demuth very similar to Cerise as they are very close and at the approx the same altitudes.

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Re: Anderson Valley vs Yorkville Highlands soils

#9 Post by Paul Gordon » March 21st, 2020, 6:57 pm

Mel Knox wrote:
March 21st, 2020, 10:38 am
Why would a 'geological mishmash' be bad for wine grapes?? And would not a key difference between the Anderson Valley and the Yorkville Highlands be the climate??

There are really two articles on JR s website on this subject and I read the other one at first, only just now discovering the one cited above. The 'tasting article' includes Baxter and other wineries. One of the articles might be free. Try going directly to her website.

Having made Anderson Valley Pinot and Chardonnay with Au Bon Climat in the earlier part of this century, I have generally regarded the Yorkville Highlands as a way station rather than a destination. Maybe if I had made wine with Bob Lindquist of Qupe, I would have stopped ! I helped make a port wine with JW Morris winery in the '70s and if we went back to that, I would have stopped at the winery featuring all the Porto Varieties.
Mel

To be honest Yorkville Highlands has varied temps based on altitude and the distance from the coast. Our place is on the north westerly edge and full exposed to the ocean influence. Our daily highs are 6-10 degrees lower than Boonville.

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Re: Anderson Valley vs Yorkville Highlands soils

#10 Post by Mel Knox » March 21st, 2020, 11:09 pm

Paul,
Very interesting. I have always enjoyed the Weir Pinots from Wms Selyem...Now that I am semi retired I will soon have time to explore more.
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Re: Anderson Valley vs Yorkville Highlands soils

#11 Post by Wes Barton » March 22nd, 2020, 12:37 am

One Anderson Valley grower dismissed Yorkville Highlands as “a geological mishmash”.
Sounds like a Pinot grower. Why invoke the thought process up there when one-size-fits-all works just fine down here?

Of course, geological mishmash is Santa Cruz Mountains by another name.
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Re: Anderson Valley vs Yorkville Highlands soils

#12 Post by GregT » March 22nd, 2020, 3:26 pm

[rofl.gif] [rofl.gif]
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Re: Anderson Valley vs Yorkville Highlands soils

#13 Post by Ben M a n d l e r » March 22nd, 2020, 11:10 pm

In my experience, when people deride a wine growing region for being geologically complex it is because they are intimidated by that complexity, uninterested in deciphering it, and too proud to admit to either.

It’s easy to see why people would be intimidated by the geological complexity of, frankly, most of California’s wine regions. I’m a trained geologist and I’m intimidated by it! But I also think that, in an area like Yorkville Highlands, that very diversity is exactly why one might want to pay close attention to it: because it is so variable in geology, aspect, elevation, (and climate and hydrology linked to those, too) that it is really bound to have some really special sites. And isn’t that part of the fun of wine anyway? Finding those special places.
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Re: Anderson Valley vs Yorkville Highlands soils

#14 Post by ryan zepaltas » March 22nd, 2020, 11:32 pm

This comment struck me, as I have said that same thing about Yorkville Highlands. I always mean it in a positive, exciting way. I love it when I walk through High Rock Ranch and every few rows you are likely to see a different color, texture or type of soils. The challenging soils in YH and on the ridges above Boonville in Anderson Valley are the Serpentine rock underneath super shallow top soil IMO. Definitely challenging for vines in that kind of dirt. You can commonly see this displayed on the hillsides where there is a green outcropping of Serpentine and a gathering of soil that has slid right off it below it. It really interesting to look at the two ridges that run along Anderson Valley. The Southwest side (Greenwood Ridge Road side) is all forested, where the Northeastern Ridge has barely any trees on it.
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Re: Anderson Valley vs Yorkville Highlands soils

#15 Post by Paul Gordon » March 25th, 2020, 9:41 pm

ryan zepaltas wrote:
March 22nd, 2020, 11:32 pm
This comment struck me, as I have said that same thing about Yorkville Highlands. I always mean it in a positive, exciting way. I love it when I walk through High Rock Ranch and every few rows you are likely to see a different color, texture or type of soils. The challenging soils in YH and on the ridges above Boonville in Anderson Valley are the Serpentine rock underneath super shallow top soil IMO. Definitely challenging for vines in that kind of dirt. You can commonly see this displayed on the hillsides where there is a green outcropping of Serpentine and a gathering of soil that has slid right off it below it. It really interesting to look at the two ridges that run along Anderson Valley. The Southwest side (Greenwood Ridge Road side) is all forested, where the Northeastern Ridge has barely any trees on it.
Ryan

You are certainly correct that Yorkville Highlands has very heterogeneous soils. We had issues in the first few years after planting when the crew treated all vines the same, leaving too many spurs per plant in many cases. Jackie and I have spent a lot of time the last 5-6 years pruning plant-by-plant based on the immediate soil conditions.

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