We source our fruit from unique vineyards who produce small crops of well-tended fruit
Most of the Sante Arcangeli Family Wines lineup comes from 2 very special vineyards: Bald Mountain Vineyard in Bonny Doon, CA and Split Rai Vineyard in Corralitos– both in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA.
Bald Mountain Vineyard
We are extremely fortunate to be able to produce a Chardonnay each year from Bald Mountain Vineyard, in the Ben Lomond Mountain sub-appellation of the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation. The sandy soil and cool weather scream for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Just 9 acres of prime vineyard real estate are given over to Pinot Noir, planted to Mt. Eden, 777, and Pommard clones that exude delicious cherry, vanilla and cola tendencies. There are only 4 vineyards in the Ben Lomond Mountain sub-appellation, and we’re thrilled to be producing one of the few wines from this extremely rare region.
The rest of the 38 acre vineyard is dedicated to Chardonnay. I’ve always found the Chardonnay from this vineyard to express crisp minerality that shows well through a deep, rich tropical fruit base, with a very distinctive terroir that can’t be found anywhere else. In fact, a few years back at a blind tasting I was able to very easily pick the Beauregard Bald Mountain chardonnay from a lineup of 15 Chardonnays from all over California due to the distinct terroir– the flavor of the vineyard.
Bald Mountain sits on a sandstone bench just slightly above the north coast fogbank that blankets Davenport all summer long. Sometimes in the dog days of summer the vines just **barely** get kissed by fog, which cools them down and basically says “hey, chill out, settle down, be patient, wait until it’s time.” The hot days and cool ocean breeze blowing off the fog equate to a nice, long hang time for the fruit… which Burgundian varietals love. The fruit gets ripe very slowly, leading to a dense, rich flavor profile that’s not found in very many places on planet earth.
Split Rail Vineyard
Split Rail is our signature vineyard.
Located on a limestone-rich mountain at 1700′ in Corralitos (Southern Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, home of Windy Oaks & Alfaro), with dramatic views of the Monterey Bay, the former Split Rail Vineyard was a longtime standby for David Bruce and Clos La Chance. Approximately two acres of this mountaintop vineyard is planted to Pinot Noir, with “David Bruce” clone, Champagne clone 32 (aka UC Davis Clone 32) and Dijon clone 115 making up the bulk of the planting. The rest of the vineyard is planted to Chardonnay clone 4, with a light mix of French clones 95/110R, 76/110R and 809/110R; all of which benefit from the long Corralitos growing season, which is cooled down by the ocean breeze blowing off the summer Aptos fog 5 miles and 1700′ down below.
David Bruce Clone (aka David Bruce Selection) is actually an old field selection consisting of Mt Eden Clone, Martini Clone, Wädenswil and Pommard (see below), and is one of the original Pinot Noir selections grown in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. Some of the original cuttings of Mt Eden Clone are reported to have been brought over from Chambolle-Musigny, on the prized Côte de Nuits, France, in the 1890s by Paul Masson, and were then planted by Martin Ray in the 1950s at his estate vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains (now known as Mt Eden). Many wineries, including Chalone, David Bruce & Williams-Selyem have made great use of this unique field selection of clones, which, as a group, are known for their delicacy and floral aromas, and which Robert Parker has described as “silk & lace”.
Clone 115, because of its great tannins and generally sturdy acidity, is known as a “backbone” or structure clone that lends a firm layer that sits at the core of Pinots made from this vineyard. Champagne clone 32(DNI), which was grafted to Freedom rootstock, brings a rich earthiness to the mix, with hints of plum jam, black cherry, clove and redwood humus. The lower half of the vineyard was recently grafted over to Pommard clone 4. These clones make up the perfect clonal blend for the old world, delicate Pinot Noir we strive to make here at Sante.
Chardonnay from Split Rail vineyard expresses crisp minerality and a Burgundian nature that balances fragrant hibiscus, pineapple and pear aromatics with hints of granite to form the backbone of clean, austere Chardonnays.
About Clone 32 (quoted from Capazzo Winery)
UCD 32 was sourced originally from a vineyard in Ay, across the Marne River from Epernay…It is sometimes said that the original vineyard sources of these clones were Roederer’s own Champagne vineyards, but viticulturalists at Champagne Louis Roederer cannot confirm this claim. Allowed to ripen fully, it gives complex wine, saturated with dark fruit nuanced with jam, tar, and leather.”
About David Bruce Clone
From Rusty Gaffney:
[David Bruce Clone] “represents any number of Pinot Noir selections of undetermined clonal origins. There is no FPMS certified David Bruce Clone. The term, “David Bruce Clone,” has become common parlance among winegrowers for selections taken from David Bruce’s plantings in the Santa Cruz Mountains, or cuttings from other vineyards planted with David Bruce’s estate vineyard budwood.
David Bruce was determined to produce Pinot Noir when he acquired 40 acres of vineyard land in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1961. Only Martin Ray was making Pinot Noir in that region. Bruce obtained the cuttings used to plant his vineyard on Bear Creek Road in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1962 from two sources: (1) The increase block at Wente’s Arroyo Seco vineyard which only contained certified clonal stock including Pommard, Martini and Wädenswil, and (2) Martin Ray’s vineyard at what is now known as Mount Eden (the exact origin of these vines is unclear except that apparently they were a field selection from Burgundy brought into the United States in the 1890s by Paul Masson). At the time, winegrowers were not clone conscious, so Bruce would not have chosen a particular clonal type, but rather some “Pinot Noir vines.”
The vines Bruce obtained from Martin Ray are probably different from the vines selected in the early 1970s by Merry Edwards, sent to Davis for clean up and FPMS certification, and eventually became the Mount Eden clone. At least one of the so-called Swan clones also came from Mount Eden.
Pierce’s Disease destroyed Bruce’s vineyard in the early 1990s, and the last Estate Pinot Noir produced from the original vines was 1992. The Estate Pinot Noir program was resumed in 1996 after the new plantings matured. The newer plantings cam from Noble Hill Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, which had originally been planted with cuttings from Bruce’s original vines. So, in essence, Bruce got his own vine selection back (albeit some of it could have mutated) when he replanted. (Editor’s Note: Split Rail Vineyard, planted by Bruce’s vineyard manager Greg Stokes in 1986-1991 with the same selection as the Bear Creek estate vineyard, was not affected by Pierce’s disease and those original estate clones exist to this day at the Corralitos site. Split Rail was considered part of David Bruce’s “estate” during estate bottlings in the 90s due to his partnership with the land owner and the clonal selections that he planted there).
Vines in California planted with cuttings taken from Bruce’s estate vineyard therefore represent a field selection and the vines should properly be referred to as David Bruce selections.”