It’s no secret that at Sonoma-Cutrer, a favored topic is terroir, or how a vineyard’s specific geology, geography and climate affect the flavors that end up in your glass. While you’re probably not thinking about the fog rolling in off the Pacific, or the California sun warming up the rocky soil when you savor that first sip, the truth is, terroir is directly responsible for the complexities that make our wines distinct.
So how does terroir translate to taste? It’s a good question that could involve a lengthy conversation! But we will spare you. Instead, let’s start by lifting a glass to the celebrity here in our part of the world: the fog.
At Owsley Ranch, our closest vineyard to the Pacific, ocean breezes blow cool fog off the water and into the narrow Bloomfield Gap, where it’s concentrated between steep hillsides before blanketing over the valley to make it up to 10 degrees cooler than other areas in the region.
This results in fewer, smaller grapes, which means intense concentrated flavor. So, when you take that first sip of Owsley Ranch Vineyard Pinot Noir, the deep earthy flavors and dark fruit complexities that you taste are directly indebted to those thick blankets of fog.
Grapes grown at Les Pierres vineyard are more influenced by the soil, which is made up of 50-70% rock (hence the name, which translates to “The Stones”). This inhospitable rocky soil makes the vines work extra hard to grow and gives low yields of smaller grape clusters with incredibly rich flavor.
The rocks in the soil at Les Pierres also absorb sunlight, slowly releasing the heat to offset the cool fog and lengthen the growing season. The resulting fruit is infused with a stony minerality that makes Les Pierres Chardonnay utterly distinct, a true reflection of the vineyard’s terroir.
The next time you’re sipping your favorite Sonoma-Cutrer wine, raise a glass to the dense fog, ancient riverbeds and distinguishing soils of Sonoma-Cutrer. After all, they are responsible for the depth and complexity of the wine you are enjoying. Cheers!