Terroir is something that we spend a lot of time talking about at Sonoma-Cutrer. At the heart of Burgundian winemaking methodology, the philosophy of terroir can be loosely defined as a “sense of place”. This sense of place – the soil, the climate, viticulture practices and the topography- is what you taste whenever a bottle of wine is opened, poured and enjoyed.
The six Estate vineyards of Sonoma-Cutrer- The Cutrer, Shiloh, Kent, Vine Hill, Les Pierres and Owsley- each display their own unique terroir that leads to the individual characteristics of the grapes that are grown and expressed in the wines that are produced. The two extreme examples of terroir differences in our vineyards can be found when comparing Vine Hill to Les Pierres. Vine Hill is our largest vineyard made up of gentle, rolling hills that face southwest. The soil here is an ancient seabed of deep, sandy loam known as Goldridge Series. Vine Hill has moderate temperature fluctuations that make it perfect for growing both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. This allows the grapes to have longer growing season with extended hang time. Vine Hill grapes are used in crafting our Russian River Ranches, Sonoma Coast and Pinot Noir blends.
By contrast, Les Pierres sits atop an ancient riverbed of gravelly clay loam where the red volcanic soil is made up of 50-70% rock content. If you have ever visited our winery, you would have noticed our many stone walls around the building. All of these walls were built using Les Pierres rocks. The vineyard itself is east facing and receives warmer temperatures during the day followed by cool, breezy nights. The daytime warming of the stone and rock provides an extended ripening time each day resulting in Les Pierres being the first fruit to be harvested. We routinely thin the clusters so the grapes achieve the deep, complex flavor found in our Les Pierres wine.
Every block of grapes in each of our vineyards are microclimates that express their own unique sense of place. As winemakers, our job is to blend those blocks together and craft the wines of Sonoma-Cutrer that have become the very definition of our terroir.