Our Vineyards

Our vineyards are located at an elevation of 2400 feet in Fiddletown in the Sierra Foothills of Amador County, California. The vineyards are on a south by southwest slope and are cooled by breezes during the day and at night, tempering the hot sun and dropping the temperature substantially. Our site is cooler by about five degrees than the California Shenandoah Valley, which means our grapes bud later and ripen later than in the valley.

The first vineyard, of five acres, was planted in 2007 and undulates across both simple and compound slopes.  Large Ponderosa pines dot the vineyard, providing perches for birds, adding to the beauty, and creating a sense of scale.  This vineyard is divided into six blocks of five varieties: Zinfandel, Primitivo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo (2), and Tannat.  Land has been cleared for the second vineyard, which will be planted in spring 2014.

What We're Growing

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is the king of grapes in both France and California.  We planted Cabernet Sauvignon in part for Beth’s brother, Jim, who loved Bordeaux wines and because we thought it would do well at our elevation. Our Cabernet Sauvignon is grown on a bi-lateral cordon trellis system.

Tempranillo

We were introduced to Tempranillo at a Sierra Foothills winery and were impressed with the wine. It’s Spain’s equivalent to Cabernet Sauvignon and in Rioja it’s blended with Garnacha (Grenache), Mazuelo (Carignane), and Graciano, among others, to make the best-known Spanish wine. Tempranillo, under the name Valdepeñas, has been grown in California for many years but is relatively new to the Sierra Foothills, where it appears to be doing well. Our Tempranillo is grown in the traditional manner, head-trained and spur pruned.

Zinfandel

Zinfandel has been grown in California since the Gold Rush of the mid 19th century when it was widely planted in Amador County, where original vineyards from the era still produce notable wines. For many years, the origin of Zinfandel was a mystery; thought to be Primitivo from Italy, then a Croatian variety – Plavac Mali. In 2001, researchers at UC Davis and in Croatia searching for the ancestor found an almost extinct variety in a coastal vineyard of Dalmatia, Croatia and performed DNA profiling, thus identifying the origin of the California Zinfandel as the Dalmatian grape, Crljenek Kaštelanski.

Amador County Zinfandels are known to be concentrated and full-bodied wines, which often are described as intense and that can be high in alcohol. The Fiddletown area is a premier location for growing Zinfandel and produces excellent wines. We decided to grow our Zinfandel in the traditional head-trained way rather than on wires due to the small quantity we have planted.

Primitivo

Until DNA profiling was done in 2001, Primitivo was thought to be synonymous with Zinfandel but its heritage, too, is the Dalmatian variety Crljenek Kaštelanski. Although very similar to Zinfandel, Primitivo grows in looser bunches and ripens more evenly than Zinfandel, resulting in less bunch rot. It also has a deeper color than Zinfandel and a spicier aroma. We chose to grow Primitivo because it does well in Amador County and we like its distinctly different taste-profile. Following the traditional method of growing, the Primitivo is head trained.

Tannat

Tannat is native to the south-west of France, where it is made into a wine named Madiran. It’s a very tannic wine and is often used in blending to provide structure and color to other red varieties such as Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Tempranillo. It requires long barrel-aging and is considered one of the most heart-healthy wines due to its high level of ologomeric procyanadins (OPC), cited as a possible explanation for the French Paradox. Tannat is fairly new to California, with very limited plantings; it is widely planted in Uruguay, where it does well in the warm climate. Like our Cabernet Sauvignon, the Tannat is grown on a bi-lateral cordon trellis system.