With a great growing season nearly behind us and the first day of harvest closing in, we are truly excited for harvest to begin. In the vineyards, we have completed “green dropping.” This is when we go through the vineyard row by row and thin the vines cutting off green clusters. This allows the vine to concentrate its effort to develop just a few rich, complex clusters rather than many low quality clusters. Thanks to our ideal growing conditions here; our vines are very vigorous and healthy. Now is also the time when we start walking the vineyards on a daily basis to keep a careful eye on the vines’ development. One of Winemaker Greg Stach’s favorite thing about harvest is getting to sample the berries in the vineyard.
To prepare at the winery, we have made room in the cellar. We bottled our 2013 Overlook Chardonnay and 2013 Overlook Pinot Noir freeing up quite a bit of barrel space in our cellar. We sanitized all of those barrels and also received a number of new French oak barrels. Now we are ready to welcome the 2014 vintage. We have also pulled out all our harvest equipment testing it to ensure that it’s in proper working order. We did get a new harvest toy! It’s a new punchdown system for our pinot noir fermentations. We’ll share more on that once it’s in action!
Harvest is hands down the winemaking team’s busiest time of year. Thus, we hire on Harvest Interns to help manage the increased work load. The majority of interns are international Viticulture and Enology students. We love welcoming them to Landmark, teaching them our winemaking techniques, and also learning from them . On August 18, we’ll welcome a Canadian, Frenchman, and an Italian for harvest. We can’t wait to meet them!
To celebrate the release of our new 2012 single vineyard pinot noirs, we threw an intimate party bringing together our biggest fans and our favorite noshes – Pig, Pizza, and Pinot. Every bottle of pinot noir was open at the winery. The inaugural vintage of Mirabelle Vineyard, Rodgers Creek Vineyard, and our Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noirs were truly exceptional. We were also pouring everyone’s favorites the Grand Detour Pinot Noir and Spring Hill Pinot Noir. Rosso’s of Santa Rosa roasted the pig for over ten hours. They also served up some of their amazing wood-fired, thin crust pizzas from classic Margherita to the more exotic Uovo Nuovo (white base sauce with Vella Cheese cheddar, Black Pig bacon, Coastal Hill Farm egg, tomato concasse, and Rafter Ranch arugula) which complemented the pinot noirs to perfection. We also had Chi McClean and his band keep the party going with their musical offerings all day. Thanks to the handwork of Tasting Room Manager, Brian Connors, we bought out our Corn Hole lawn game for their first use! So fun! Who’s ready for next year’s party?
Vineyard: Lorenzo Vineyard
Farmers: The Bazzano Family
Landmark Wine: Lorenzo Chardonnay
Since 1974, the Bazzano family has been farming this vineyard in the Russian River Valley. John and his wife Phyllis live on property. Originally they planned to plant their vineyard to Chablis, but when the nursery had a mix up with their order, they ended up planting the vineyard to chardonnay instead. Lorenzo Vineyard, named for John’s grandfather, is one of the few Russian River Valley vineyard sites with old vine chardonnay thanks to this serendipitous mistake.
Lorenzo Vineyard has always been a family affair. John and Phyllis are both retired school teachers, but back when they were still teaching winter and summer breaks were a time for work in the vineyard. All the children helped. Their grown sons, John Jr. and Matt, are still involved with the family business today. The whole family, even the grandchildren, pitch in during harvest and pruning times.
Vineyard: Rayhill Vineyard
Farmers: William Rayhill
Variety: Pinot Noir
Landmark Wine: Rayhill Pinot Noir
Tended and cared for on daily basis, William Rayhill’s pinot noir vineyard surrounds his family home in the Sebastopol Hills. With dramatic views of Mount St. Helena and Mayacamas Mountain to the east, the vines at this scenic vineyard are over ten years old. William walks the vineyard frequently and uses his ATV to reach all corners of the ranch nurturing each vine. The vineyard benefits from ample rainfall thanks to its proximity to the Sonoma Coast.
Vineyard: Sangiacomo Vineyards
Farmers: Mike and Steve Sangiacomo
Landmark Wine: Overlook Chardonnay, Damaris Chardonnay, and Kiser Chardonnay.
For three generations, the Sangiacomo family has been farming the rich Sonoma Valley soil. Purely dedicated to farming, the Sangiacomo family put an intense focus on their farming techniques. Built on a handshake in the vineyard, Landmark has been working closely with this family since the 1990s.
Sangiacomos have always been connected to the land – especially through family. Beginning in Genoa, Vittorio Sangiacomo voyaged to America on the advice of his father and got his first job at age 17 in the vegetable fields at Bay Farm Island in Alameda County. In 1927, he was able to purchase a 52-acre fruit tree ranch in Sonoma – which is the where their Home Ranch is today. In 1969, the second generation of Sangaicomos began switching the planting from fruit trees to grape vines. By the 1980s, the conversation was complete.
Read more about the Sangaicomo’s rich family history.
Vineyard: Heintz Vineyards
Farmers: Charlie Heintz
Landmark Wine: Overlook Chardonnay & Charlie Heintz Chardonnay
The Charlie Heintz Vineyard has been in the family for over 100 years. When Prohibition struck, they pulled out their vineyards and planted fruit trees. What good law-abiding citizens! Well…. Maybe they left a little for the family wine…
Charlie Heintz and his family have been farming his family land with grapes for the past sixty years. The majority of his vineyard is planted to Chardonnay. The vineyard’s close proximity to the Pacific Ocean provides excellent growing conditions. Here at Landmark, we’ve always loved how Charlie provides a “hands-on” approach to growing grapes and believe it’s the main reason why our Charlie Heintz Chardonnay is a popular seller from year to year.
Vineyard: Flocchini Vineyards
Farmers: Nick and Andrew Flocchini
Landmark Wine: Overlook Chardonnay & Damaris Chardonnay
Planted to two of our winemaker’s favorite chardonnay clones, Wente and Robert Young, this vineyard located along the Lakeville corridor has sweeping views of the Petaluma Gap. Brothers Andrew and Nick Flocchini farm this small vineyard site with exceptional care and attention. Thanks to the mild, cool climate, the grapes achieve early ripening and mature while maintaining balance and optimal acidity.