Preparing for IPNC 1: Visiting Sun Chase, and Gap’s Crown Pinot Noir...

Preparing for IPNC 1: Visiting Sun Chase, and Gap’s Crown Pinot Noir Vineyards, California

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Visiting Sun Chase and Gap’s Crown Vineyards with Stéphane and Dana Vivier, Sonoma Coast

view from the top-Sun Chase Vineyards sit at 1100 feet at the Northern end of the Petaluma Gap, thereby receiving a Marine influence. Vivier Wines produce a Sonoma Coast blend of Pinot Noir, but also are developing a close relationship with several vineyards through which they are producing Single Vineyard Pinot Noirs. Sun Chase is the first of these, Gap’s Crown the second, and third will be Spring Hill, it’s first harvest this year.

there is very little soil on this portion of the Sun Chase Vineyard site, and the vines are young, it’s first vintage in 2009.

the Pinot clusters have “hens and chicks”–both large and small berries. The effect is to provide a mix of concentrated flavors from the smaller fruit (more skin to juice) and the juice to make the wine from the larger clusters. On clone types that tend to have hens and chicks the goal is the right balance of these two elements so you have enough juice to make your wine, and with more interesting flavors. Stéphane Vivier’s goal is to make a Pinot with a good integration of spice with fruit.

veraison had started on the Pinot Noir fruit just before our arrival.

in tending to the plant, the goal is to make no clusters touching

Dana and Lucille (21 months) Vivier. Lucille likes eating the just-purple berries.

some of the clusters have sun burn. The canopy is used to minimize sun burn on the fruit, but high exposure vineyards also tend to have some, and, additionally, the fruit needs some direct sun for proper ripeness. Seriously burned berries will be removed. On red wines burned fruit present a distinct flavoral problem in the wine, which is more manageable in white wines. Additionally, severe sun burn can create cracks that allow pests access to the inside of the fruit. The sun burned fruit will be left until just before ripeness fully takes hold. By leaving the extra berries the vine is pushed harder. But if not removed before full ripeness the burn will be hard to see against the redness of the berries.

looking towards the Petaluma Gap–a lower stretch of the coastal ranges to the North of San Francisco Bay. Wind moves from the cooler Pacific, East into the warmer inland areas, cooling the surface temperatures, and drying the fruit. Sun Chase Vineyard is near the Northern most reaches of the Gap’s wind effect. Gap’s Crown Vineyard is at the Northern most end.

Stéphane Vivier

view from the top–Gap’s Crown Vineyard, at 840 feet elevation, the Northern end of the Petaluma Gap, and the Southern most portion of the Sonoma Coast AVA, an intersection zone.

again, very rocky ground

picking berries

Thank you to Stéphane, and Dana Vivier. Such a nice afternoon.

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