A discussion with Bill Williamson.
The grape vine is the source of all wine. Reaching the highest level of quality in wine is only possible by starting with the highest quality fruit.
To get the best fruit we must control vineyard attributes such as location, soil chemistry, farming protocols, canopy management, fruit thinning and harvest timing.
While this gives us the best fruit it limits the total amount of wine we can produce, but there really is no other way.
Williamson Home Ranch Estate Vineyards
The Home Ranch Estate is located on approximately 50 acres along the banks of Dry Creek. The soil is primarily sandy loam over clay and gravel. Deep, well drained and fertile, this soil produces abundant crops of high quality grapes displaying complexity within desired varietal qualities. Across the ranch we enjoy three micro-climates and so the ranch supports nine different grape varieties, two Burgundy, seven Bordeaux and three Rhône. Grapes from the Home Ranch Estate vineyards are used exclusively in our wines and have produced forty-two gold-medal winning wines in the past eight years.
Located high on the Dry Creek Valley bench land this vineyard is planted on sandy soil filled with shale and serpentine rock which will not hold water. Irrigation immediately drains out in the same way as the hillside vineyards of the Rhône Valley, so here we have the classic Rhône grape varieties, Syrah/Shiraz, Grenache and Mourvèdre to make Embrace Grenache, Elate Grange Cuvee our Shiraz and Cabernet blend and Enchant Trinity, our classic Châteauneuf-du-Pape style wine. The vineyard is called Vésenaz (VES-IN-A) after a town in Geneve, Switzerland. More . . .
Stagecoach Vineyard - This might be called the last frontier of the Napa Valley – wild, rugged, fragrant with wild herbs and dotted with rare native plants. Over the past two decades, 600 acres of vines have been planted making Cabernet-focused Stagecoach the largest contiguous vineyard in the Napa Valley. The 1,100+ acres of rocky, volcanic terroir extends from the southern edge of Pritchard Hill to the westernmost regions of the Atlas Peak appellation. Here red, volcanic soils made up of a boulder-strewn clay loam with a few solid rock outcroppings have been dynamited to create a more uniform soil base to grow the fruit for our Stagecoach Cabernet and Reserve Bordeaux blends.
Vine Hill Vineyard
The Vineyard is 100% Pommard clone on 104-14 rootstock. Harold Olmo, a UC Davis professor, originally imported the Pommard clone of Pinot Noir from Pommard in the Côte de Beaune, subregion of Burgundy. The vines are trained to double cordons with 15 to 17 clusters per cordon yielding 3.00 to 3.25 tons per acre. The cool growing conditions with foggy mornings and ample warm sunshine contribute to the complexity of the fruit and the incomparable finish.
The gravelly Vine Hill region produces some of California's most outstanding Pinot Noir. Here the clay and gravel soil is covered with 18 inches of Goldridge Sandy Loam which is not particularly fertile and does not hold water well causing the vines to struggle, producing our rich, elegant Passion Pinot Noir with soft mouth feel and the long delicate finish.
We commenced farming this vineyard and making our first Sauvignon Blanc from it in 2011. Located along the river front in Dry Creek Valley Appellation where lots of sun, cool nights and free draining sandy-clay soils all combine in this vineyard to produce the fruit for our exceptional Joy Sauvignon Blanc. More . . .
Red Hills Vineyard
Dramatic high elevation volcanic hillsides produce intense mountain fruit with great color and structure. Located in the northern Mayacamas Mountains, the Red Hills are comprised of dozens of volcanic hills positioned directly over the North Coast Magna Pocket, as a result, the Red Hills are the latest formation of the volcanic and tectonic processes producing well-drained vineyards rich in black obsidian, quartz crystals and volcanic gravel content, and strikingly red in color.
The vineyard elevation is over 2,600 feet and the higher elevation and pure air allow for more than 10% extra UV light than neighboring sea level valleys. This UV triggers thicker grape skins, greater tannin, and intense wines with high phenolic content. Here our clone Clone 4 Cabernet Sauvignon picks up warm sun all day then enjoys the cool nights to produce a deep flavored cab for our Bordeaux Blends that our club members love so much.
Wallace Ranch Vineyard
Well-established, well-farmed, old-vine Cabernet Sauvignon in the Chalk Hill appellation - what's not to like? This is a new vineyard for us in 2018 with our favorite clone 337 Cab that will help bring more Bordeaux blends like Allure, that our club members love so much. More . . .
Rosden Vineyard and Grove Street Vineyards
We farm a highly regarded Zinfandel vineyard in Dry Creek Valley to support one of our Wine Club Members who owns the vineyard, a direct neighbor to the famed “Maple” vineyard. Ideally located on a south-facing slope with well-drained clay loam soils the vineyard is farmed to produce low-yield, high quality fruit for our Scandal Zinfandel.
We acquired the Grove Street Zinfandel vineyard in 2015 which is actually located within the Healdsburg city limits . The fruit had been going into a well-respected wine however we are now dry-farming these old vines and using it all for our Scandal Zinfandel.
We grow our Frolic Viognier in the center of the sunny McDowell Valley positioned between a river and a lake where it gets the benefit of sun all day but also receives the cooling effect of the chill water, lengthening the growth cycle to develop the full flavor set of a Rhône Viognier. More . . .