Grape Growing Regions

Wine Season 2016

We just received our last grape and juice trailer of the year on Thursday October 13th.  If you have not made wine yet please stop in or call ad see what grapes and juice are available.

The weather in California has been extremely hot and dry this year and the grape harvest has started mid August.  Several varieties will not be available to us on the East Coast since they will have been harvested and turned into grape juice or wine by the time they ship from California.  We will be receiving our first trailers for the September 10th weekend.  Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio grapes will not be available to us this year.  Pinot Noir will only be available for the first weekend, September 10th.  All the grapes will have been delivered by October 8th so this will be a very early and short wine season.  The prices are higher for grapes and juice this year due to the increase in the labor costs for picking and packing the grapes.  If you wish to order grapes and juice please get your orders in by September 3rd.  There is a $30 deposit for each bucket of juice and a $15 deposit for each case of grapes. The deposits are non-refundable.  If you do not have a grape crusher we will be crushing grapes in the morning on Saturdays September 17th, 24th, October 1st and 8th.  There is a $3.00 charge for crushing a case of grapes.  You will need to bring your own buckets or purchase them to put your crushed grapes in.  You can order grapes and juice in person at the store, by phone or online at our website.

Here are the order forms for fresh grapes and refrigerated grape juice that you can download

Grape Order Form 2016

Juice Order Form 2016

 

Here is a link to see what grapes are available. http://www.maltosecart.com/fresh-california-wine-grapes/

Below is a description of the areas in California that we receive our grapes from:

Lodi

The Lodi Appellation is a federally designated American Viticulture Area recognized for the distinctive quality of its wines. Located east of San Francisco at the edge of the Sacramento River Delta, the Lodi appellation is noted for its classic Mediterranean climate and its distinctive sandy soils that provide the perfect environment for the growing of world class grapes.

The federal government first approved the Lodi American Viticultural Area (AVA) in 1986, and over the past two decades the number of “Lodi” labeled wines has skyrocketed.

As the quality and recognition of Lodi wines spread, local winegrowers began to recognize the wide variety of ecological differences across the vastness of the Lodi AVA – differences that began to show in the wines emerging from their vineyards.

These winegrowers sought to create sub-appellations that better reflect the diversity of the land. Their efforts resulted in the most extensive historical and science-based document outlining the diversity in climate, soil, topography, and elevation of any appellation ever to be submitted for federal approval. Their research concluded that seven distinct growing areas exist and deserve recognition as individual appellations.

In August 2006 the federal government granted recognition to the following seven appellations:

THE SEVEN AVA’S OF LODI

Alta Mesa AVA – Located in northern central Lodi, it is distinguished by its mesa-like elevation. The area is composed of dense heavy clay soils and gravel soils, and is the second warmest area in Lodi. Alta Mesa is typically planted red grape varieties.

Borden Ranch AVA – Located in east central Lodi, it is the most topographically diverse area of the Lodi Appellation with elevations ranging from 73 feet in the west to 520 feet in the east. The region features well drained, stone-laden soils that tend to produce well-structured red wines.

Clements Hills AVA – Located in southeastern Lodi it is characterized by rolling hills and cliffs at the base of the Sierra Foothills. It is generally warmer and wetter than western Lodi and is particularly prized for growing red varieties.

Cosumnes River AVA – Noted for a relatively cool and windy growing season this appellation is located in the northwestern corner of Lodi. Relatively low-elevation and alluvial soils, the AVA is noted for its white wine varieties.

Jahant AVA – The smallest of the Lodi appellations it is uniquely defined by its pink Rocklin-Jahant loam soils. Jahant’s climate is cool and dry due to its proximity to the Mokelumne River and Sacramento Delta, and relatively low elevations.

Mokelumne River AVA – The historical center of the Lodi wine growing region. Located in central Lodi it is noted for its fine sandy soils and boasts many of the regions famed Old Vine Zinfandel vineyards.

Sloughouse AVA – Located in the northeastern corner it is the warmest or Lodi’s appellations. Elevations rise to 590 feet and Sloughouse is noted for its diverse topography and low vigor soils. It receives the least cooling from San Francisco bay breezes that funnel up the Sacramento Delta.

Amador

As diverse as the wine grape varieties planted, so are the conditions in which they are grown. Amador’s vineyards range from an elevation of 250 feet in the western foothills to 2900 feet in the east. Summer daytime temperatures range from the eighties to more than one hundred degrees, while nighttime temperatures dip into the fifties and sixties due to breezes from the Sacramento Delta and the Sierra Nevada mountains. Such a diurnal temperature shift is good for the grapes because the sunshine produces high acids and high sugar content while the temperature drop stabilizes the acid balance in the fruit.

Another factor that differentiates the grapes in Amador County is the jumble of the soils, from alluvial to decomposed granites, fertile to not-so-fertile, level to steep, and fine to coarse-textured. Amador County’s diverse growing conditions have been acknowledged by the designation of one appellation of origin – Amador County, and two American Viticultural Areas (AVA’s) – the Shenandoah Valley of California AVA and the Fiddletown AVA.  Amador County is located in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in central California, approximately 100 miles east of both San Francisco and Napa Valley and 40 miles east of the state capitol of Sacramento.

The majority of Amador’s 3,700 vine acres and 40 wineries are in the northern part of the county in the Shenandoah Valley, near the small town of Plymouth. Here, vines are planted on rolling, oak-studded hillsides ranging from 1,200 to 2,000 feet in elevation. Slightly to the east is the small Fiddletown appellation, which boasts even higher-elevation vineyards.  Most Amador vines are planted in volcanic Sierra Series soils – primarily sandy clay loam derived from decomposed granite. These friable, moderately dense soils effectively retain Amador’s 36 to 38 inches of annual rainfall, enabling most growers to dry-farm their vineyards. Dry-farming, coupled with the low nitrogen and phosphorous content of the soils, results in sparse vine canopies affording the grapes excellent sunlight exposure.  Amador’s warm climate, high solar radiance (what the French call luminosity) and low humidity promote the full ripening of our grapes. Classified as a high Region 3 in the UC Davis heat summation scale, Amador is comparable to St. Helena – but cooler than Calistoga – in northern Napa Valley. While Amador heats up earlier in the day than those appellations, it rarely exceeds 100 degrees during the growing season, a frequent occurrence in St. Helena and Calistoga. Equally important, temperatures typically drop 30-35 degrees in the evening as breezes cascade down from the Sierras. This rapid cooling helps the grapes retain the acidity essential to balanced wines.

The majority of Amador’s vines are head-trained, spur-pruned and either own-rooted or on low vigor rootstocks like St. George, which provide a natural check on yields. Trained vines are primarily on bi-lateral cordons with vertical trellising. Severe pruning, cluster thinning, and dropping crop when necessary keep yields small, generally four tons per acre or less. Amador boasts one of the highest percentages of organically farmed vineyards of any wine region in California and, probably as a result of dry-farming, has been little affected by phylloxera.  Amador’s production of intensely flavored red wines also reflects its high percentage of old vines: roughly 600 acres are 65 years or older, including several vineyards dating to the 19th century. These deeply rooted, head-trained vines, found in vineyards such as Deaver, Esola, Fox, Ferrero, Grandpere and Lubenko, yield tiny crops of small-berried grapes, which produce the heady zinfandels for which Amador is renowned.  Amador County once was identified almost exclusively with zinfandel. During the past 20 years, Amador vintners have begun producing a diverse array of varieties (click here for grape acreage information), especially those of Italian and southern French origin. While zinfandel, with over 2,000 acres, remains Amador’s signature variety, the region’s wineries also vinify superb examples of barbera, sangiovese, sauvignon blanc, and syrah; limited bottlings of pinot grigio, verdelho, viognier, roussanne, marsanne, grenache, mourvedre, petite sirah, aglianico and tempranillo; lovely rosés made from a wide variety of grapes; exceptional dessert wines made from muscat grapes; and port-style wines made from zinfandel and traditional Portuguese varieties.

Amador County’s two major sub-appellations are Shenandoah Valley and Fiddletown, both in the northern part of the county near the small town of Plymouth. Stylistically, zinfandels from the Shenandoah Valley tend to be fuller, riper and earthier with a characteristic dusty, dark berry fruit character, hints of cedar, anise and clove spice, and scents of raisin and chocolate. By comparison, zinfandels from the Fiddletown appellation, a smaller, higher-elevation region east of Shenandoah Valley, tend to be lower in pH and display a fruitier, more cherry-like fruit tone.

Paso Robles

Paso Robles Wine Country is situated along U.S. Highway 101 in the center of California’s Central Coast, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. As California’s fastest growing wine region and largest geographic appellation, the 24 square mile territory encompasses more than 26,000 vineyard acres and nearly 200 wineries.  The Paso Robles AVA is a land of diversity and contrasts that encompasses river bottoms to rolling hills and flat lands to mountains. The major geographical features of the area are the Santa Lucia Range, the Salinas River Valley and the Templeton Gap.

California’s Central Coast is geologically different from other California wine growing regions. Unlike others with deep, rich fertile valley soils, over 45 soil series are found in the Paso Robles AVA. These are primarily bedrock derived soils from weathered granite, older marine sedimentary rocks, volcanic rocks and younger marine sedimentary rocks of the Miocene age Monterey Formation featuring calcareous shales, sandstone or mudstone. Soil diversity is the norm and a vineyard block may commonly contain several different soil types.

What is really unique about Paso Robles AVA soils is the predominance of desirable calcareous soils found throughout the region and the high soil pH values of 7.4 to 8.6 that are not typical of California’s other viticultural areas. Due to geologic uplift, calcareous shale is plentiful in Paso Robles’ west-side hills, where dense clay-based soils combine with relatively plentiful rainfall to make it possible for some vines to be dry-farmed without supplemental irrigation. More granular forms of broken down calcareous shale is found on the eastern hills and valley of the AVA. On both sides of the Salinas River, gently rolling hills are covered with sandy, loamy soils. In the watershed areas, particularly the Estrella River plain, loam and clay are overlain with sand.

With a greater day-to-night temperature swing than any other appellation in California, distinct microclimates, diverse soils and a long growing season, Paso Robles is a unique wine region blessed with optimal growing conditions for producing premium and ultra premium wines. More than 40 wine grape varieties are grown in Paso Robles, ranging from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, to Syrah, Viognier and Roussanne, to Zinfandel, the area’s heritage wine varietal

Sonoma County

We receive grapes from two of the AVSs in Sonoma County, Alexander Valley and Chalk Hill

Alexander Valley
Earned AVA status in 1984, Alexander Valley has gravelly soil that produces some of the county’s richest Cabernet Sauvignon, along with flavorful, ripe Chardonnay. The Valley’s hillsides produce complex and concentrated Zinfandel, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Chalk Hill
1,400 vineyard acres / 5 wineries / Earned AVA status in 1983
Occupying the northeast corner of the larger Russian River AVA, Chalk Hill, the appellation, is one of 13 in Sonoma County.  A unique climate and growing conditions distinguish Chalk Hill from the neighboring appellations – the cooler Russian River Valley to the west and the warmer Alexander Valley to the northeast. Elevations in Chalk Hill are higher; soil fertility is lower. Soil, climate and elevation all separate Chalk Hill from other parts of Sonoma’s Russian River Valley.  Chalk Hill is named for its unique, volcanically-derived, chalky white ash soils. These mildly fertile soils lend themselves to the production of excellent whites, particularly Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Chalk Hill’s five wineries sit above the rest of the valley, on the western benchland slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains, separating Sonoma from Napa. The appellation enjoys a warmer climate relative to the rest of the Russian River Valley. Due to the higher elevation of this viticultural area, vineyards escape much of the cooling fog that regularly shrouds the lower-lying growing areas near the river.