TN: 2020 Cavaletti Vineyards Chardonnay Rio Vista Vineyard

  • 2020 Cavaletti Vineyards Chardonnay Rio Vista Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Sta. Rita Hills (12/29/2021)
    I’ve never been able to taste much butter on Chardonnay, but I suppose this has a hint of that (if I really strain my buds) on top of the usual tropical notes. This is a fairly big Chardonnay at 14.5% ABV, which is normally not my jam, but it has two things going for it: very little discernible oak influence and subdued “Chardonnay bitterness”. Rio Vista Vineyards in Sta- Rita Hills are pretty well respected and provide Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to Flying Goat, Tantara and a few others. I know Patrick Kelley the winemaker, and he’s one of the great winemakers here in the south (Ventura County, to be more precise) and he takes fruit from from both SB and Los Angeles. They’re consistently good wines. (91 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

**Thanks for the TN!!

I just stumbled across this producer.**

Historic Vineyard Society’s roster includes the Schoolhouse Vyd, a 1/2 acre old-vine planting of Mission in Los Angeles County:

“Bush trained Mission planted on its own roots dating back to the early days of the California wine industry and its birthplace in Los Angeles County. Originally 50 acres it has been reduced to just over 2 acres today. The vineyard was abandoned around 1960 and has been growing wild among the sagebrush for the last 60 years. It has been burned to the ground repeatedly in wildfires during that period.”

from the Calavetti Vyds website:

“…The ‘Schoolhouse Vineyard’ received official designation as a California Historic Vineyard and our ongoing rehabilitation efforts are (literally) bearing fruit. These own-rooted Mission vines rely entirely on rainfall and this year they only got two inches. Since being planted in 1899 they’ve weathered many droughts and are well adapted to the reality of the arid high desert. Nearby Lake Hughes and Elizabeth Lake, across the street on the San Andreas Fault, are both completely dry. The lower portion of the vineyard has better access to the subterranean water table and those vines produced a tiny crop of fruit. That half acre parcel has probably yielded 300 lbs of grapes, but that fruit looks outstanding. The challenge now is keeping the coyotes, raccoons, and squirrels off the fruit long enough to get a small harvest. The upper portion of the vineyard is still being recovered from sagebrush and didn’t produce much fruit at all.”

Cavaletti Vineyards bottles some interesting-looking reds from Southern California, but I am not particularly interested in another Santa Barbara County Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.

Oh, yeah. I know Patrick well. He and Byron Blatty are reviving this vineyard.

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I know very little about Southern California grape-growing and viniculture.

I began compiling info to start a thread focused on Cucamonga and it’s neighboring counties. However, I am hesitant to launch an endeavor on a level comparable to the “Contra Costa” or “Santa Clara/San Benito” threads.

It truly is fascinating to find a growing number of individuals committed to breathing new life into historically important wine regions.

As you know, this was the biggest grape growing region in CA. There are still some remnants here and there scattered about, but most have been lost to urbanization. But the more east you go from greater LA area, the more likely you are to run into an old vineyard.

I highly recommend the book City of Vines by Thomas Pinney - it’s a fascinating look into the early part of wine growing in this state. And once you’ve read it, you start to see all the signs, like the grape cluster in the seal of the City of Los Angeles, the street names etc… I’ve alway said there wouldn’t be a city here without the film and aerospace industry, but I’d have to qualify that and say that there wouldn’t be a city here without wine!

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I often read that Cucamonga and other places were important wine growing regions, thenI ask myself, What kind of wine did they make? What happened??

For example, at the end of the 1700s Madeira was the place. But a combination of vine disease and fashion change made this region relatively unimportant.

Sauternes was huge at the beginning of the 20th century…the Czars had it bottled in Baccarat…oops, your best customer just got shot!! And now buying a property there is a good way to lose your shirt.

The Russians did Tokaj in and when the Iron Curtain came tumbling down, nobody cared except investors who thought people would.

The people in Jerez…I read that the vineyards are 25% of what they used to be…When I sold wine retail Sherry was popular. Not any more.

The folks in Oporto are making table wine…probably a good move business-wise.

Los Gatos…they turned great vineyards into housing…Since you can buy Maseratis and Ferraris there, this must have worked out great for everyone but wine lovers.
Ridge and Mt Eden aren’t too far away.

I feel like Cucamonga was the site of a kind of wine industry that no longer exists, but I don’t know. Guess I will have to check the Pinney book out.

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Cucamonga as a region is great. It has sandy soils, warm days, and more coastal influence than you would expect. The Zinfandel from Cucamonga has been very good. I’ve worked with two vineyards and both have produced really unique and complex wines. Both are head-trained, dry farmed, old vine Zin (circa 1915) with much higher acid than you’d expect. 91 points (WE) on one and the other has just been submitted. We’ve poured them in blind tastings against all the California Zinfandel standard bearers and the wines showed really well. The decline can be traced back to style of wine & economics. If you look at Southern California grape harvest records from the early 1900’s you’ll find that most of the varieties harvested were planted and grown for making fortified wines. That style went out of fashion, prices plummeted for those varieties, the farmers got old and died, and the kids sold the vineyards to developers. Simple economics. It wasn’t a failure of terroir. We also don’t see those areas growing strawberries, peaches, or tomatoes…it was just more profitable to put in a subdivision. Sad but true.

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Thanks for the interest. The Schoolhouse Vineyard was planted in 1899 by the original family that homesteaded the property, the Munz Family. The vineyard was 100% Mission. I’m assuming the fruit went to a local winery that no longer exists. The property was donated to the local school around 1960. We prune it every year and got a small amount of Mission this year. It is the oldest commercial vineyard in Los Angeles County and the only that dates back to that early period of commercial grape growing (pre-Prohibition). We make wine from Santa Barbara to Rancho Cucamonga and every area in between.

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