Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Peak Appellation / Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Peak AVA / Pine Mountain AVA / Pine Mountain Appellation        
Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Peak Appellation Winegrowers
Sky Pine Vineyards
Sky Pine Vineyards logo

Summer fog stays well below the mountainside

The Canyon

Clusters ready for harvest

Our elevation affords a long growing season

Healthy row cover crop is key to retaining soil.

Farming At 2,000' Elevation

Sky Pine Vineyards farms all five of the noble varietals at 2,000 feet elevation, with panoramic views of the Russian River and Alexander Valley. The vineyard blocks cling to steep hillsides and bench land vistas, and are sited within 8 separate micro-climates and soils, infusing the effects of terroir into each vintage. 15 acres are planted to grapes; the remaining acres contain a vast array of natural and biological diversity – madrone and manzanita forests, rolling hills, and springs. The Ranch supports wildlife corridors for foxes, wild pigs, turkey, deer, mountain lion, and bob cat.

Our Vineyard Blocks

The two merlot blocks of six acres total, were planted in 1995, using 3309 rootstock and clone number 1 merlot. The spacing is 8 by 10, with a row orientation running east to west, allowing the prevailing northwester lies to blow down the rows. There is good southern exposure with full sunlight on the whole vineyard from sunrise until sunset. Vertical shoot positioning is the trellis type, with bilateral cordons supporting an average of 9 shoots per cordon arm. Soils are thicker sandy to loamy, with rolling contours, and good drainage. The fruit matures evenly over the entire 4 acres with sweet patches in certain areas (kept secret) and on average yielding 2.5 tons an acre. The fruit has been rated 'classic plus' and has successfully been crafted into wine with a bottle price point over $20. In 2008, the first 22 rows of the north half were prepared for and grafted over to Cabernet Sauvignon, using bud wood from our Hay Field Block of cab. This makes for 4 acres of merlot.

Cabernet Sauvignon:
The Cab Sauv. Vineyards blocks were carved out of the steep hillsides in 1999, with the vines planted March 2000. Five distinct blocks were created, each with its own distinct personality. Considerable time and expense were invested into extensive drainage and erosion control measures due to the hillside nature of these blocks. The Cab Sauv. Uses clone number 7 on 110R rootstock, with a 6 by 10 spacing. Vertical Shoot Positioning and bilateral cordons are used as the canopy management system. The fruit from each block is unique and when blended has entered the market in the bottle price point of $30 plus. We now have 8 acres of cab with the grafting over of 2 acres of the north half merlot block.

Our Cabernet blocks include:
Gun barrel Block: 1.8 acres on steep, south facing slope, composed of shallow rocky soil, with rows running north-south in direction.
C'est la Vie Block: 1 acre of an amphitheater like bowl, south facing, with east-west rows, in moist heavier soils.
Rock Pile Block: 2 acres of rock, rock and more rock, south facing, with east-west rows;
Hayfield Block: .75 acre of steep, deep dark soil, western facing, with east-west rows.
Ontop Block: .25 acre of north-south rows planted in fraction able sandstone and shale, on top of a knoll overlooking C'est la Vie Block.
New Cab Block: 2.0 acres of grafted clone #7 from our Hay Field Block on the former 2 acres of merlot, making for a field hybrid Cabernet with a distinctly composite flavor.

Cabernet Franc:1 acre with 2 separate blocks were planted in 2001 using 6 by 9 spacing. The 'Meadows Block' uses 110R rootstock with clone 4, in deep soils, in a southern exposed flat meadow, with rows running north-south. The 'Steep Block' uses 3309 rootstock and clone number 5, planted in crusty shale on a north facing slope, with rows running north-south. The vines in these blocks are using a vertical head prune type trellis method, where the vine trunk is supported by a 5 foot steel stake and pruning allows 4-6 canes to grow out from the trunk creating an umbrella like shaped plant. The effort here is to reduce yield and increase intensity of the fruit.

The Canyon at Sky Pine Vineyards - Our Special Spice Block
The Canyon is its own unique micro soil and climate area. Surprisingly, the soil is quite deep here, having washed down from the over arching hillsides over the last ten thousand years. It also has the sheltered effect of being below the rim, and out of the normal breeze which washes down across the Merlot and Cab Sauv blocks. Thus it feels like a little oven in the afternoon, very warm and still.

In this block, we have established high density planting going to a 9 by 5 spacing, closer than anything else on the mountain. This allows about 2000 plants for this area. As a perspective, this puts 928 plants an acre, while our Merlot is spaced at 545 plants per acre. Three varietals are grown in our Canyon Block: Cabernet Franc:4/332 on 110R rootstock, Malbec: 4 on 100R and Petite Verdot:400 on 110R. (Cab franc being 800 plants, the Malbec 560 and the PV 240.) This is our spice grape area, which is used for blending agents for Bordeaux style wines.

Sustainable Winegrowing Practices

Sky Pine Vineyards subscribes to the Code of Sustainable Winegrowing which incorporates Environmentally Sound, Economically Feasible and Socially Equitable principles into grape growing. There is an emphasis on maintaining balanced vines and uniformity throughout the vineyard, using canopy management and monitoring regimines. Soil and nutrient management are constantly monitored with emphasis on the prevention of soil erosion with a no till policy and mow only program of vine row cover crops. Special winterization programs are installed and monitored daily during the rainy season with up to 60 inches of rain during November to April of each year. Large buffers zones along natural drainage areas have been reseeded and planted with trees to prevent siltation and runoff. Water management practices including soil moisture and canopy monitoring has allowed reduced annual irrigation usage by up to 30%, through efficient drip irrigation and fertigation. Pest management emphasizes frequent canopy monitoring for mildew, leafhoppers, and mites, using the minimum chemical intervention rates and products as possible. With leaf removal, shoot positioning, cover cropping and road surface maintenance, disease pressure is kept to a minimum.