FOX HILL VINEYARD
Lowell Stone had quite the vision for his wife Babara's place. As a young man, he fell head over heels for Italy, particularly it’s wine culture. Finally, in the late 80's, he took to replanting the entire property, converting it over from mostly Chardonnay and Riesling to many and much more obscure Italian varieties (with a few acres of two Portuguese varieties thrown in for good measure). Today, it's a library of what one could get their hands on in the way of Italianate grapevines at the time from nurseries, friends, and the odd 'suitcased' cuttings. Fox Hill rests between Hopland and Ukiah just up from the Russian River on benchland called the Talmage Bench. Uplifted former riverbed, Fox Hill is predominantly standstone based – very rocky and pebbly, with a large amount of quartz to trip over as one is weaving one's way in and out of the vine rows that eventually find their way into Mahlon, Chilion, Feints, and Rosé.
Wild Ruth Ranch
Wild Ruth Ranch is a project born out of family connections and the blurred line between "best friends" and "soulmates." Chris Bilbro planted this absolute jewel of a rugged Yorkville Highlands AVA property in 2001. Very recently his son, Sam Bilbro has taken over and somehow, I am lucky enough to have been grafted into the future of this ranch through our friendship. Revitalizing and revamping vineyards and wildland acres, swapping over varieties to those that are (in our opinions) a bit more well suited to the site...and those a bit more in line with our respective passions. Hillsides of sandstone and chloritic schist twist and turn from 1000ft all the way up to 2250ft. We're betting it all on this site, believing firmly that the wines off of this place are sure to be both wild and expansive while simultaneously expressing the tension and beauty of this very unique section of Mendocino County.
Italian immigrants Maria and Gaetano Testa planted this property originally in 1912. Their great great granddaughter Maria is the current steward of this superlative ranch just north of Ukiah in Mendocino County. Outstandingly well farmed and mostly dry grown, I can honestly say that I have yet to work with more amazing red fruit on any continent. I harvest old vine Carignan, Grenache, and Cabernet Sauvignon off of the fine alluvial sedimentary soils of the Yokayo series to come up with Boaz each year. I count myself incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to showcase this family's 100-plus year legacy of amazing farming.
Rorick Heritage Vineyard
Matthew Rorick has one the most jaw-dropping vineyard sites I've stepped foot upon in California. The Rorick Heritage Vineyard is mainly comprised of limestone and schist, way up in Calaveras County, near the southern edge of the Sierra Foothills AVA's at an elevation of 2000 feet. Frost lingers late into the spring and comes early in the fall providing some intense nail biting moments, where prayers and wishes whispered alternate between springtime “shit shit shit, I hope those new shoots can handle this cold,” and autumn “please please please just ripen!” Surrounded by thousands of acres of steep scrubby oak atop rolling rocky wild oat hills, RHV is compelling and rugged to say the least. The man himself is also about as rugged and compelling as a human can be, with a rich and storied past, a certain 'up for anything' verve, an “oh, you don't have (_____)...here have mine!” sort of generosity and the kindest blue eyes around. The first time I picked fruit off of this site, it was Picpoul and it went into 2017 Dinos to Diamonds. From the 2018 vintage moving forward, the Rosé will contain a significant portion of RHV Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo).
Tucked away in an upland valley just east of of the town of Hopland in Mendocino, sits Gibson Ranch. The section of Grenache gris that is ultimately destined for the white cuvée, Naomi, was likely planted around the turn of the 20th century, making it the oldest documented example of the variety in the US. Massive, burly, often tree-like vines live out their days here basking in the heat of the summers, tended by owner Scot Bilbro (now in organic conversion). Well drained sedimentary soils, both colluvial and alluvial gravelly loam, make up much of the vineyard land here providing a noticeable mineral lift to the wines.
Cole Ranch truly is hallowed ground. This altogether unique canyon valley tucked away high in the hills between Ukiah and Boonville was planted in the early 1970's by a gentleman named John Cole and is one of the only AVA's owned entirely by one individual. Its also officially the smallest AVA in the nation clocking in at just 189 acres (55 planted). Of those planted, 18 acres are planted to Riesling...mostly on limestone based colluvial soils and dry farmed...and eventually form “Elimelech.” At about 1500 feet up, the temperatures are cooler, the rain falls in higher quantity, and the harvest is significantly delayed, often the last fruit to arrive at the winery.