Acres Planted: 36
Elevation: 2,200 – 2,800 Feet
Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc
Pine Mountain Vineyards is dedicated to producing the exceptional wine grapes expected by artisan winemakers and premium wineries. The vineyard is located on the upper western flank of Pine Mountain about 7 miles from Cloverdale. Our farming practices are well adapted to the high-elevation setting and reliably deliver harvests of fruit intense in color and flavor. Our viticulture philosophy is to tailor our winegrowing to meet the specific styles of each of the wineries we serve.
The Elevation, Soil, and Climate of Pine Mountain Vineyards
Pine Mountain Vineyards is located within 660 rugged acres on the western flank of Pine Mountain, equidistant between the summit of Pine Mountain and Cloverdale Peak, at the center of the newly established Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Peak AVA.
The defining characteristic of Pine Mountain Vineyards is its elevation, with all of its 36 acres of vine-planted blocks spread out between 2,200 to 2,800 feet, the large majority facing south or southwest. The mountainous terrain is typically steep; the soil is shallow to moderately deep, very well drained, and contains large components of sand and gravel. Prominent soil types are Cole Loam and the Hopland-Witherell-Squawrock Complex. The micro-climate of the vineyard exhibits all the characteristics associated with high-elevation viticulture. These include cooler daytime and warmer nighttime temperatures than in the valley, longer sunlight hours, and cooling oceanic breezes. An analysis of growing season degree-days at Pine Mountain Vineyards shows that it is very similar to high quality Cabernet Sauvignon sites in southern Napa Valley. With its unique combination of features, the Pine Mountain Vineyards terroir favors the production of fruit that is intense in flavor and color, with clusters that are typically only one-third to one-half the size of valley-grown grapes.
“I have been involved with the Pine Mountain Vineyards for four years, initially as an acquisition candidate, and now in an advisory role with the new owners. In tracking four seasons of temperature data in the lower block of the vineyard, the growing season Degree Days have consistently been near-identical to temperature stations I have in vineyards north of Napa City (Oak Knoll, Silverado Bench areas). This temperature pattern, combined with the high elevation and well-drained mountain top soils, has always struck me as a superb site for growing the highest quality Cabernet Sauvignon. I look forward to seeing the product of passionate winemakers from this historically under-utilized vineyard.”
- Richard Brockmeyer, Wine Industry Investment Consulting
Pine Mountain Vineyards is a family enterprise dedicated to growing the best grapes and creating the best wine from the Pine Mountain terroir. To that end, we apply the latest advances in the science of viticulture and the practice of precision farming with an emphasis on managing and exploiting the effects of high elevation on vine stress, bud setting, and cluster development.
The Vineyards comprise 36 acres of vine-planted blocks spread out between 2,200 to 2,800 feet elevation, the large majority facing south or southwest.
|Variety||Cabernet Franc||Cabernet Sauvignon||Cabernet Sauvignon|
|Clones||1||7, 8||337, 191|
|Average Yield||2.5 to 3 tons/acre|
|Degree-Days||Average degree-days: 2,950.|
|Average number of days between 95 and 100 degrees/over 100 degrees: 5/2 (as compared to 12/10 in the valley below).|
History of the Vineyard
Initially developed by John Copeland in 1998, Pine Mountain Vineyards lies at the center of the newly designated Pine Mountain–Cloverdale Peak AVA. Pine Mountain Vineyards’ 36 acres are perched at between 2,200 to 2,800 ft of elevation.
Our 36 planted acres are part of a larger 600-acre ranch, which is home to an impressive range of plant diversity including oak, madrone, and manzanita woodlands, fir forests, native grasslands, springs, streams, and water catchments supporting healthy wildlife populations. The property is carefully managed to balance the rewards of high elevation viticulture while still maintaining the pristine native ecosystems for future generations.
John Copeland worked for many years in the property development department of Kendall-Jackson and traveled extensively to identify promising existing vineyards or lands with potential vineyard development for the company. John shared with us the following:
“It was my honor and privilege to learn the finer aspects of viticulture from one of the true visionaries of the wine industry, the iconic founder of Kendall-Jackson wines, Mr. Jess Jackson. One of the most critical lessons I learned from Jess was the importance of vineyard site selection in determining desirable wine flavor characteristics for a given grape varietal. This is particularly true for Bordeaux grape varieties in general, and more specifically for Cabernet Sauvignon. In a general sense, Bordeaux varieties grown in high altitude mountainous environments have the potential to achieve superior flavor profiles compared to the same variety grown at lower altitudes where deeper soils exist. The reasons for this are many, but Jess Jackson was one of the first vintners in California to insist on sourcing Bordeaux fruit varieties from high altitude sites.”
When it came time for him to look for a site for himself, he was attracted to the ranch owned by a retired steel executive on the top of a hillside east of Cloverdale. This was a retirement haven with olive trees, cattle, pasture, and ponds but no grapevines. John saw the potential of the site, convinced the owner to sell it to him, and undertook to develop a vineyard. The first 25 acres were planted in 1998 and the second development of 10 additional acres was completed in 2001.
It was just the beginning of John’s plan. He not only knew the unique character of Pine Mountain Vineyards but also recognized a larger area that shared the same potential and quality for wine grape growing. It was not just a vineyard he wanted to develop but a whole new viticultural area. While he had known for some time that the area had earned a reputation among winemakers for producing excellent fruit (as far back as the late 1880s), he was surprised to find that that this specific area, on the border of Sonoma and Mendocino counties, lacked a descriptive appellation, and was included in the larger non-specific North Coast AVA. Knowing the importance of descriptive appellation within the wine industry, he set about gathering comparative data and found the unique characteristics for growing ultra-premium fruit in this high altitude region (above 1600′) to be richly deserving of their own designation.
According to John, “Grape farming at altitudes in excess of 1600′ has its own set of challenges. High altitude means low yield production, but the fruit produced is highly concentrated with rich varietal character. Vineyards capable of producing fruit with such intense characteristics are highly coveted by winemakers. With the assistance of neighboring grape growers on Pine Mountain, I began the long process of application for a small area, high altitude appellation. Ultimately, Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Peak was granted specific AVA status, recognizing it as one of the smallest area, highest altitude appellations ever granted within California.”
It was an odyssey with many reversals, but in November 2011, the new Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Peak AVA was officially created.
As our history illustrates, Pine Mountain Vineyards and Winery has been the beneficiary of decisions made years ago by visionary, generous, and overall exceptional people. We are grateful to all of them.
“In a general sense, Bordeaux varieties grown in high altitude mountainous environments have the potential to achieve superior flavor profiles compared to the same variety grown at lower altitudes where deeper soils exist. … Grape farming at altitudes in excess of 1600′ has its own set of challenges… but the fruit produced is highly concentrated with rich varietal character. Vineyards capable of producing fruit with such intense characteristics are highly coveted by winemakers.”
- John Copeland
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