Thanks to a new, high-resolution aerial photo of our area on May 25, 2009 shown on Google Earth, here is an updated listing by block of our estate vineyards.
1-4. De Cascabel Vineyard—planted in 1981 by Ron Mansfield of Goldbud Farms.
1 through 1B:Three acres of cabernet sauvignon. 1A: The lowest six rows of cabernet sauvignon that are "dry-farmed" (not irrigated, but there is some sub-surface flow that sustains the vines). 1B: One acre of cabernet sauvignon, converted to "octilateral trellising" by adding four more cordons to each vine, in an attempt to balance the excessive vigor of the vines. 2: One acre of "old" merlot. 3: 0.5 acre of cabernet franc, grafted from cabernet sauvignon in 1992 and converted to bilateral cordon, replanted on 5BB rootstock from 2001-2003 after the original grafts developed "leaf roll" virus. 4: One acre "new" merlot, grafted from cabernet in 1996. 23: 0.4 acre of carmenere, grafted from cabernet sauvignon in 2007 and converted to bilateral cordon. 24 0.4 acre of dolcetto, also grafted from cabernet sauvignon in 2007 and converted to bilateral cordon. The entire 7-acre original vineyard was on quadrilateral trellising, AxR1 rootstock, 8’ by 12’ spacing and drip irrigated .
De Cascabel is Spanish for rattlesnake, and the vineyard got its name from a nest of hibernating rattlesnakes discovered when a boulder was rolled away during clearing in the spring of 1981.
5-7: Geoff & Katy Farm— planted in 1997 on 110R rootstock, drip irrigated, and 6’ x 10’ spacing on a bilateral cordon with a “catch wire” to help elevate the shoots. The first commercial crop was in 2000. Katy and Geoffrey are the Smiths’ two children, and when they used to help their father make wine at home from Welch’s grape juice concentrate, the wine was named in the manner of a then-famous apple wine.
5: ½ acre of malbec and 6: ½ acre of petite sirah (the petite sirah was grafted from petit verdot, right before the final harvest of petit verdot turned into a double gold medal-winning wine). 7: Single remaining row of petit verdot. 8: A single row of 23 Dolcetto vines (grafted from Sangiovese) planted along the driveway.
9-11: Lemley Ranch—planted in 1997. 9: ½ acre of Charbono (a French grape with an Italian name, producing a wine famous for its robustness) on 3309 rootstock. 10: 76 Dolcetto vines on 1103P (grafted from Sangiovese in 2007). 11: 0.5 acre of Pinot Grigio (an Italian grape that sometimes has a French name) on SO4 rootstock. Also 6’ x 10’, drip irrigated, and bilateral cordon with catch wire. The first crop was 1999. The property was sold to the Smiths in 1995 by Art and Mary Lemley.
12: Lost Arrow Vineyard—planted in 1999, it consists of one-third acre of Petite Sirah on 1103P rootstock, head-trained and dry-farmed. On our next-door neighbors’ (Harlan and Sandi Reese) property, the name arose when the rains following plowing revealed a rich lode of arrowheads, chips and other Native American artifacts.
13-14: Mother Vine Ranch—planted in 2000. 13: One acre of pinot grigio (grafted from viognier in 2004). 14: Another acre of pinot grigio, grafted from viognier in 2007. All planted at 5.5 X 9 foot spacing, bilateral cordon with vertical shoot positioning. Named for the native vitis californicus grapevine growing on the property with a trunk over eight inches in diameter.
15-17: Fiddlehead Vineyard— planted in 2003, all plants on 5.5 by 9 foot spacing, drip irrigated. A large number of ferns grow alongside Slug Gulch Road (even though they aren't fiddlehead ferns, John's father was a violin maker who always referred to his creations as "fiddles"). 15: One acre of malbec clone 9 on 110R rootstock. Some of these vines are dying from an infection of armillaria (oak root fungus), probably from the row of black walnut trees that lined the road before clearing. They will be replaced with vines on resistant rootstock. 16: One acre of sauvignon blanc on 1103P rootstock, grafted from muscat canelli in the spring of 2009. 17: About 104 vines of alicante bouschet on 110R rootstock (resulting from a minor math error in the Serendipity Hill vineyard).
18-19 & 25: Paso Vista Vineyard—cleared in 2000 and planted on 110R rootstock in 2001; spacing is 6 x 10 feet. Named for its view of an adjacent horse ranch, where magnificent Peruvian Paso horses were bred and raised.
18: 0.5 acres of tempranillo on 110R rootstock, drip irrigated on bilateral cordons, grafted from petite sirah in the spring of 2009. 25: 0.7 acres of petit verdot on 110R rootstock, drip irrigated on bilateral cordons, also grafted from petite sirah in the spring of 2009. 19A: 3 acres of Higgins clone zinfandel on 110R, called "Paso Vista West Side." 19B: 3 acres of Higgins clone zinfandel, also on 110R, called "Paso Vista East Side." The zinfandel vines are all now dry-farmed.
20: Serendipity Hill Vineyard— this area, which has dramatically different topography from the adjacent Piedras Grandes site (a swale or saddle rather than a steep slope), is planted to just under one acre of alicante bouschet on 110R rootstock, 5.5 x 9 foot spacing, on 110R rootstock, drip irrigated and head-trained. It provides a unique, obscure varietal wine.
21-22: Piedras Grandes Vineyard—acquired in August of 2002 and planted in July of 2003. The vines are head-trained, planted at 5.5 x 10 feet and drip irrigated. It was planned to convert the vines to dry farming, but experience with the site indicates the shallow soil may require continued irrigation. The name Piedras Grandes derives from the house-sized boulders that needed to be relocated for planting (and from the three that couldn't be budged and that now lurk just below the surface, waiting to surprise an unsuspecting tractor driver). A challenging site, the slope varies from about 10% at the ends to over 30% at the center. The grapes will struggle in this location, but the resulting wine should reflect the victory of vine over environment. 21: one acre of petite sirah on 110R rootstock. 22: One acre of charbono, also on 110R. The parcels where vineyards 13-17 and 20-22 are located have been combined into a single 21-acre property, where the Obscurity Cellars facility was completed in 2005, and the property was purchased by Steve and Liz Ryan in 2013.