We believe strongly in wines of terroir -- the French term best translated as "somewhereness" -- and choose our vineyard and winemaking practices to maximize our chances of expressing our terroir in our wines.
Our goal is to produce wines with a true reflection of their varietal character, of the place where they were grown, and of the vintage that they came from.
To produce our wines, we use four core practices:
Our location in the foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains west of Paso Robles, California was chosen after three years of intensive research. Our soils are composed of calcareous clay, similar to those which produce the great wines of the southern Rhone Valley. Our steep slopes offer a variety of microclimates, soil depths and exposures. Our altitude varies between 1400' and 1600', and our proximity to the ocean provides warm to hot summer days and cool to cold summer nights. The resulting long growing season produces gracefully ripened fruit in nearly every vintage.
We imported our vines from Beaucastel, shepherded them through a USDA-mandated 3-year quarantine, and propagated them on our on-site nursery. These clones were hand-selected for intensity of flavor and true varietal character. Some varietals had never been brought into the United States before, and we brought in new clones even of the varietals that existed here previously.
We densely plant the vines (1600 to 1800 per acre) to create competition, and trellis them low to the ground to take advantage of the radiant heat from the rocky soil. The competition between the plants, as well as the rugged terrain and limited water, creates intense small clusters of grapes with thick skins. Each vine is limited to 8-12 bunches each year. We dry-farm all of the vineyard most vintages, and many blocks every vintage. This forces the vines' roots deep into the bedrock and makes sure that they pull the maximum character of place out of their environment.
Our organic vineyard practices following the lead of the Beaucastel estate in Chateauneuf du Pape. Like Beaucastel, we use no herbicides or systemic pesticides in the vineyard. Cover crops minimize erosion, host beneficial insects, and return nitrogen to the soil. We use extensive composting, and use compost tea to control mildew in the vineyard and reduce our need for sulfur. We received our organic certification in January, 2003 and continue to explore how we can better respect our place. We began farming much of the vineyard Biodynamically in 2010, and brought a mixed herd of grazing sheep, alpacas and donkeys (pictured right) into the vineyard in 2012.We prune and harvest by hand. The pruning is done both to promote the general health of the vine and to minimize crop load, and we regularly thin our crop to improve the quality of the fruit. All grapes are harvested by hand at optimum ripeness, and most of the vineyard blocks are harvested in multiple passes, ensuring that the grapes that arrive at our winery for vinification are at peak ripeness.
Join us for the Paso Robles Wine Community's biggest celebration! We'll pour Esprit de Beaucastel at Friday's Reserve Event and a range of new releases at Saturday's Grand Tasting. And all weekend we'll have special wines open at the winery and will be taking tours to visit our herd of sheep, alpacas and donkeys. Sunday 11am to 1:30pm enjoy Chef Jacob Lovejoy's small plates, free with a tasting. Details & more events »
In May, we're featuring our 2011 Cotes de Tablas Blanc at a 10% discount. In 2011, our Viognier crop was cut by 80% due to spring frost, leaving a tiny, intense yield of less than one-half a ton per acre. The resulting wine is rich and tropical, with stone fruits and honey, but at the same time firmly dry, with a very long, saline & mineral finish. Details »
May 15, 2013
Take a look at the seven-line entry of Frank Schoonmaker, America’s foremost wine expert and author in 1964, about terroir. His association, rather than the "somewhereness" the wine exhibits, is more of a taste of dirt, neither elegant nor elevated: "somewhat unpleasant, common, persistent”. My, how things have changed. More »