So it seems that I have somehow gotten myself knee-deep in grapes this year. By accident, of course. It's just when something serendipitous comes your way, especially in such uncertain times, you just have to go with it. And it's a very good feeling when you never look back, feeling that whatever it was that was so serendipitous to begin with was absolutely, without hesitation, the right thing to embrace. And so this is how I found Coryelle Fields Vineyard, in the extreme northern appellation of the Sonoma Coast. 1235 feet in elevation, to be exact.
To get there, one must pass through the delightful hippie-ville of Guerneville, which runs alongside the bucolic Russian River (which from time to time one can spot nude frolickers along its shores). Winding through the redwoods and through the strangely attractive vacation town of Monte Rio, you come to the turnoff for Cazadero. Then, the journey begins... An hour later, after enduring hairpin turns with precarious drop-offs into valleys strewn with rivers, rocks, and redwoods, one-lane gravel roads winding past hidden treehouses and ramshackle barns, then finally to the summit - eagles circling, scrubbed oaks sprinkling the landscape, the thick fog from the Pacific drifting down off the peaks into the crevices of the various ridges. To say that this is a very special place is quite an understatement. To plant a vineyard in this extreme location is not only daring, it is a true testament of the grower to the importance of place in the fruit that the vineyard is destined to produce.
As you can see, there was no way possible for me to pass up working with fruit from this fantastic place this year. Working with Carolyn, the grower, out in the vineyards this past year allowed me to really feel how the vineyard takes all the elements - the elevation, the proximity to the Pacific, the diurnal shifts in the weather, to really give a defined character to the fruit produced. The block that I worked with was planted to Syrah, a little over an acre, located on a south west-facing slope, and trained to Geneva Double-Cordon. In it's seventh year of crop, it showed a little yield restraint this year, but the phenolics and the structure of the fruit looks like it is on its way to become truly beautiful wine.
Now, it'll be a quite a few months until we all can taste how this crazy harvest (mark my words - its a vintage for the history books!) will be translated into the wines of Abaluche Wine Company. All I can tell you for certain is this - they come from a very special place.