Growing Grapes in a Coastal Climate

Why even try to grow grapes so close to the coast?? With my Swiss Italian heritage, there have been grapes on the property since my grandfather’s time for “personal consumption”. In those days, that was defined by law as 200 gallons per year, per person. You can do the math.

Very early on, our circle of friends included a number of successful growers and vintners (people who till the land get to know one another). Through good friends Augie and Rachelle Hug www.hugcellars.com we met John and Lorraine Alban www.albanvineyards.com . Over time, we decided to convert several hay field areas to grapes. John Alban was the consultant for our vineyard development. It was his knowledge and foresight that pointed to planting Syrah. John’s knowledge and friendship has been integral to the evolution of these vineyards.

In 1998, seven acres (Madolyn Block) were planted. In 2000, six more acres (Tilden and Rena Blocks) were started. The Syrah plantings were completed in 2004 with the addition of the Rollie Block.

Bassetti label Syrah has been produced for us by several very talented local winemakers/wineries. However, the majority of our grapes are sourced to premier local winemakers resulting in a number of well-regarded single varietal Syrahs and Rhone blends produced under their labels.

We made the decision a few harvests ago to source all our grapes for the near term. In 2009, three + acres of Syrah were pulled and replanted with Grenache and a small amount of Viognier. With the success of our Syrah grapes in this coastal climate and mixed terroir, several innovative local wine makers were interested in finding out what these elements would do to Grenache. So were we!

Root stock was planted in 2009 and grafting of Denner Grenache cuttings was accomplished in 2010. A small initial harvest was achieved in 2012 and the 2013 harvest provided enough fruit to start experimenting with what “coastal” Grenache may have to offer. In addition, the 2013 Syrah harvest was bountiful, providing opportunity to produce the Bassetti label wine again – we are all looking forward to the result.