Farmed by Pat Wirz, this old-vine, dry-farmed vineyard was planted in 1965 on its own roots. It's located at about 1000' in the Gabilan Mountains about twenty miles north of the Pinnacles National Monument in the Cienega Valley AVA (San Benito County). Although it lies only twenty five miles east of the cold waters of the Monterey Bay, the coastal influence is dampened by the mountain topography and geology surrounding this site. The San Andreas fault runs through the property highlighting the convergence of two giant tectonic plates. Granite and limestone are the dominant geologic influence here. As these rocks eroded over the eons, they weathered into very deep sandy loam (Salinian granite) and clay loam (limestone) with plenty of fist-sized granite and limestone cobbles remaining. The rocky, nutrient poor soil forces the roots to grow deep in search of water and minerals. These old vines ripen late and are extremely low-yielding, around 1 ton/acre annually.
Lime Kiln Valley
Farmed by us, starting in 2016, this piece of California history still has some stories to tell. This vineyard is located in a bowl shaped valley sitting at the base of the Gabilan Mountians, which tower above. Located about two miles south of the Wirz Vineyard at about the same elevation, this historic property is in it's own AVA. First planted in 1895 to a few small blocks of Zinfandel and Cabernet Pfeffer, this old planting more closely resembles other Portugese/Spanish immigrant plantings of the same era: field blends planted on their own roots with cuttings taken from their neighbors/the old world. Varietals include Zinfandel, Mission, Mataro (also known as Mourvèdre), Alicante Bouschet, Orange Muscat, Palomino, Carignan, and a few as to yet be identified, including the Cabernet Pfeffer. Two other old blocks consisting mainly of Mataro were planted in 1922 all in the same old style: own-rooted, head-trained, and dry-farmed. Several other blocks have been planted since, including Pinot Noir (planted in 1967, grafted to Pinot Noir about 20 years ago) and more Zinfandel and Cabernet Pfeffer about 20 years ago also. Like the Wirz Vineyard, the soils here are weathered mostly from granite and limestone; most of the vineyard is planted on very deep granitic sand. This profile allows the roots to go deep and tap into the vast water wealth underneath in this warm and dry climate. We make a few different wines from this vineyard, and some of the fruit gets sold to other like-minded winemakers in the state.
SANTA Cruz Mountains
Farmed by us, starting in 2016, this vineyard is located in the old Glenwood area of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Planted in 1997 to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this 4 acre gem sits between 950-1100 ft. up in the heart of the mountains. Nestled in a canyon on an east-southeast facing slope flanked by redwoods on all sides, this vineyard receives on average 40-45" of rain annually, enough to be dry-farmed successfully without tilling. The soils here are dominated by Santa Cruz sandstone and mudstone, and as such, weathered into sandy-loam and clay-loam. We make a small amount of Pinot Noir from only the steepest acre of the vineyard; about 30% slope.
Santa barbara county
Also known as Kick-On Ranch, the vineyard lies approximately 6 miles west of the town of Los Alamos and about 10 miles east of the Pacific Ocean (as the crow flies). This exposed site was shaped heavily by the northwest wind that blows everyday like clockwork from late morning until sundown from April through August. Kick On Ranch sits on an ancient sand dune complex that runs along the coast and into the Los Alamos valley. These dunes formed by sand being carried by the wind are known as eolian sand dunes,
The fruit Stirm works with comes from a south-facing block that receives generous sunshine and sits above a stream terrace in the lower part of the vineyard. The soils are a mix of the eolian sand dunes and alluvial deposits with small chert cobbles. This deep, sandy loam is very nutrient poor, and, coupled with the relentless onshore wind, drastically limits the vigor of these vines. This mixture of climatic and geographical elements results in grapes that reflect the austerity of this part of the coast; where intense sunlight is moderated by the cool Pacific breeze.
As Kick-On Ranch is the longest tenured of our vineyard sources, we are working to farm this site in an organic way. As much as we'd love to change overnight, this is a long-term project that will take a few years to successfully transition. Two simple tools that have become our go-to; our hands. Maintaining a healthy vineyard without the use of chemical inputs requires a lot of hand-work, critical timing, and astute observation. So far, the results have been promising.
RANCHO ARROYO PERDIDO VINEYARD
Santa barbara county
Located just over a mile north of Los Olivos, in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley, lies one of the oldest vineyards in Santa Barbara County. The "Lost Creek Ranch," was planted in 1972 to Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc, this vineyard historically has been dry-farmed, and planted on the old 6'x10' spacing standard. Just a couple of acres have been grafted over to Grüner Veltliner in 2008 onto the original rootstock. This vineyard lies in a "bowl" shaped valley that has accumulated a significant amount of clay over the millenia; hence the soil profile is made up of very deep, dark, clay loam. The soils at the western side of the vineyard contain large rounded cobblestones; this helps increase drainage significantly.