When walking through Emeritus Vineyards’ Hallberg Ranch, a 110 acre Pinot Noir vineyard near Sebastopol, the quote from famed Italian Astronomer/Philosopher Galileo Galilei instantly flashed through my mind. “Wine is sunlight, held together by water”. Of course, what else could wine possibly be? And this renown Pinot Noir vineyard was certainly living proof!
Guided by the “Ambassador of Fun”, Paige Hansen, we walked between the vines on a spectacular late Spring afternoon, Pinot glass in hand.
The vines danced in the wind. And, as if on key, tiny clusters of flowers were forming to signal the start of the grape growing season. Interestingly, Vinifera grapes are self-pollinating and due to the close proximity of the flower clusters, there is no need for bees or other insects to aid with fertilization.
Within a few short weeks, small berries are formed which is referred to as fruit set. The entire growing process from bud break to verasion (a french word for the onset of ripening or color change) is approximately 100 days, depending on the grape varietal and the wine region.
Hallberg Ranch vineyards are planted on the coveted Goldridge soil, composed of one to four feet of sandy loam underlain by Los Osos clay.
All three Emeritus vineyards, are sustainably and organically dry-farmed, which helps the grapes to achieve full ripeness without excess sugars and extracted flavors. Additionally, a cover crop of mustard is planted between the vines to aid in moisture retention from the morning fog and to harbor beneficial insects.
The scenery was breathtaking and the close up of the flowering vines was mesmerizing. Many thanks to Paige for her stories between the vines and for the intimate look behind the barrels.
As expected, the vineyard walk ended with a spectacular Pinot Noir tasting of the 2014 Hallberg Ranch (Russian River Valley), the 2014 Pinot Hill (Sonoma Coast) and the 2014 William Wesley (Sonoma Coast). An added bonus was the newly released 2016 Ruby Ruby Saignee (Russian River Valley), a perfect Summer sipping Rosé.
It’s no wonder that Emeritus Vineyards has become one of my top picks for Pinot tasting.