The Estate Vineyard
AT A GLANCE: David Girard's weathered granite vineyards lie on the slopes of Gold Hill, which rises directly out of a canyon from the American River near Coloma, CA. Our vines were first planted in 1998, on soils from the "Auberry" series, which means that the parent material is decomposed igneous rock on rolling hills. Coarse and sandy, the soil provides an excellent, well-draining medium for our vines. At about 1400' elevation in the Sierra Foothills, we experience some significant summer warmth, but pronounced diurnal winds blow cooling mountain breezes down the canyon at night. These temperature swings help the vines to fully ripen grapes with balanced, intense flavors and great acidity.
GRAPES: Except for six acres of the original Merlot planting and our small, new plot of Cabernet Sauvignon, we grow grapes that have a home in the greater Rhone valley in France. These include Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Counoise for reds, and Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, Grenache Blanc and Rolle for whites.
We grow grapes on thirty-five out of eighty-five total acres on the Estate, which was originally designed and installed by Ron Mansfield and his dedicated crew. Topography is a major factor here in the Foothills, and creates different climate pockets wthin small areas depending on aspect and sunlight exposure. With this in mind, we have our sun-loving Grenache and Mourvedre on south-facing slopes, cooler-climate Syrah facing east to bring out its spiciness, and the more delicate white grapes mostly facing north. The non-planted areas provide habitat for much wildlife, and we have a delightful walking tour which educates guests on the history and ecology of the property.
FARMING: From our inception in 1998 we've farmed the land gently and with respect for our surroundings. In 2014 Grayson brought his knowledge of organic farming to the vineyard and we are currently in the three-year conversion process to become certified as an organically farmed vineyard. Our first soil-enriching cover crop was planted that autumn and the following spring we abandoned strip-sprays of herbicide in favor of using a tractor-mounted weed knife. Vine pests like mildew are kept under control with sulphur and oil sprays.
While we believe deeply in minimizing our environmental footprint and acting as responsible stewards of the land, our real conviction is that the world's best wines are made from organically farmed grapes: by striving to keep the native ecology intact our wines show a true sense of place and uniqueness.