One place to start the Stonestreet story would be 1989, when we first began making wine here in Sonoma County's Alexander Valley. But the true starting point came much earlier, long before any human endeavor was involved. The beginning of Stonestreet can be traced back three million years when a volcano exploded and deposited a richness of rock and ash and minerals over what is now Napa and Son... Read more
One place to start the Stonestreet story would be 1989, when we first began making wine here in Sonoma County's Alexander Valley. But the true starting point came much earlier, long before any human endeavor was involved. The beginning of Stonestreet can be traced back three million years when a volcano exploded and deposited a richness of rock and ash and minerals over what is now Napa and Sonoma counties. Over time, lava flow from that volcano created a mountain range between the two regions, and innumerable earthquakes since have added to the ruggedness of those mountains.
Today that mountain range is called the Mayacamas. The vineyards of our Alexander Mountain Estate are planted along the Mayacamas at elevations from 400 to 2,400 feet above sea level. These elevations help to explain why we are able to grow wine grapes which such intensity and concentration.
Soil and Struggle
The past is always close at hand when you're in our vineyards. If you were to stand, say, at our Upper Barn Vineyard (elevation: 1800 feet), from which we produce a Chardonnay by that same name, you would have a clear view of mountains whose contours tell the story of ancient volcanoes.
If you were to stand in the same vineyard and look down, you'd see rock of all sizes-from pea-sized gravel to boulders as big as buses-that hailed down on the region when mountaintops exploded eons ago. Our rocky, mineral-laden soils cause our grapevines to struggle for survival. The result is smaller berries and smaller yields per acre, but fruit that is more intense and which reflects the minerality of the soil from which it grows.
The Presence of the Pacific
These lean, rock-strewn soils, along with mountain elevations, comprise two-thirds of the Stonestreet story. Our story is not complete without the final third: climate. The perennially cool Pacific Ocean lies 22 miles to the west of our vineyards and we always feel that maritime presence. While it's true that grapes need heat to mature, it's also true that grapes shut down when the heat becomes too intense. We find that the ocean exerts precisely the right influence on the temperature of our vineyards.
The right elevations. The right soils. The right distance from the ocean. Call it coincidence, serendipity or just plain dumb luck that all three of these elements combined the way they did to make it possible to grow world-class wine grapes here.
Some Facts about Stonestreet
Total acreage: 5,100 (3 miles wide, 5 miles long)
Grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Chardonnay
Elevation of vineyards: 400 to 2,400 feet
Highest point on the estate: 2,800 feet
Distance from Pacific Ocean: 22 miles
Soil types: varied-volcanic, clay-loan, rock/gravel
Five distinct ridges on the estate--named sites include Deer Knoll, Black Mountain, Bear Canyon, Black Cougar Ridge. Read less