Laurel Glen, Sonoma 1981-2017

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Patrick Campbell’s iconic Sonoma estate is now under new management. Has it changed? 

Sonoma County receives far less attention for its Cabernet Sauvignon than for its Pinot Noir but the county includes several sites that produce distinctive examples worthy of attention. One of the earliest examples, Laurel Glen Vineyard on Sonoma Mountain (pictured here, overlooked by Mayacamas mountain, by Patrick Campbell), was established in the 1960s at a time when relatively few acres of the variety existed in the state. The site has since become one of the state’s heritage Cabernet sites.

German immigrants settled much of the south-eastern portion of Sonoma County near the town of Sonoma in the late 1800s. Relying on mixed farming to make their living, these settlers planted field blends of vines through the area. A small portion of the Laurel Glen site still has these old vines which today are used to make rosé.

The eastern face of Sonoma Mountain is one of the coolest parts of the North Coast where Cabernet will ripen reliably. The AVA is partially defined by its elevation. Sitting between 400 and 1,200 ft (122–366 m), it experiences less-dramatic temperature swings over the course of the day than much of the county. The result is that the vines are protected from the most extreme heat of summer that can affect neighbouring Sonoma Valley. But night-time temperatures are slightly higher, allowing fruit to slowly develop overnight while away from direct sun exposure. The combination allows for varieties such as Cabernet to ripen adequately but in a generally cooler climate.

Soils on Sonoma Mountain are an iron-rich, reddish-brown, rocky volcanic loam. Cabernet from the area often carries a sort of ferric element characterised …

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