Sonoma’s Rugged Terroir
VIDEO: Interview with Winemaker Graham Wehmeier on Location at Cornell Vineyards
… READ THE ARTICLE AND WATCH THE VIDEO ON WINESIREN.COM
Straddling the Mayacama mountain range are 20 stunning acres of well-refined vineyards cultivated with meticulous care. The location is Sonoma County’s Santa Rosa high atop Spring Mountain. Cornell Vineyards is perched between 1600 and 1900 feet. This is the land where clouds pass so close you can almost reach out and touch them. Where terrain and weather are untamed. A frontier of wild yesterdays where stagecoaches once traversed.
The vineyard was re-established in 2001. Cornell focused efforts on a number of developmental and exploratory years. This due in part to the difficult and diverse terrain. With modest terracing, strategic planting with vines in balance with the land.
To get to this remote area, you must travel the narrow & winding mountain roads where one careless move could propel you over a cliff. The original vines existed well before prohibition when the Russian settlers were first making wine. It’s a history almost lost to nature with wild overgrowth peppering the land. Cornell Vineyards has a unique location many would envy. It’s advantages of proximity to the sun & UV rays with the wild, untamed weather maintains a consistency of cool. It’s located at the top of Spring Mountain, accessible from both Napa and Sonoma Valleys.
The wine is 18 years in the making. I’m meeting with winemaker Graham Wehmeier to talk about this relatively new wine and the challenges he and the vintners had to contend with in this remote location.
“Quite simply, these are gorgeous mountain Cabernets endowed with real class and pedigree.” Antonio Galloni
With an altitude of 1900 feet, the vineyards of Cornell are amongst the highest in Sonoma County. The land is wild, lusty and peppered with beautiful wildflowers, brush and an abundance of trees. Taking in the landscape one can see what Henry and Vanessa Cornell imagined when they purchased the 200-acre parcel that would soon become Cornell Vineyards. The weather is fascinating. Solid sun all summer long, but there are moments of literally heart-pounding conditions. I experienced my first bout of real brain freeze shooting in the outdoors at Cornell Vineyards with a squall of wind, hail and something close to snow. This weather lends credence to the unique nature and taste of the wine. Like many of the best places to grow grapes in the world, their soils are diverse. The terroir contains a generous mix of prehistoric seabeds and volcanic rock to loamy clay and sandstone. The hills are rich in possibility.