Blend: 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Malbec, 10% Petit Verdot, 1% Merlot
Vintage production: 740
Straddling the ridge between the two arms of Lake Sonoma is the Rockpile AVA. One of the newest appellations in California, Rockpile’s location and history can be described in one word: dramatic!
S.P. Hallengren, great-great-great grandfather of Founder & Owner Clay Mauritson, first planted vines on the Rockpile valley floor in 1884, shipping every ounce of his wine back to Sweden. The Family’s Rockpile homestead and ranch grew to 1,600 hectares by the early 1960s, when all but 280 ridgetop hectares were taken by the Army Corps of Engineers in order to develop Lake Sonoma. The vineyards shown in many of the historic family photos are now under water.
It was not until the early 1990s that the first acres of modern-era vines were planted and thrived, once it was discovered that Rockpile held great potential for ultra-premium mountain fruit.
What makes Rockpile so unique? The AVA is located at the Northwest edge of Dry Creek Valley where the two regions actually overlap. All the vineyards within the Rockpile AVA range from between 240-600m in elevation. Although Rockpile is located just 13 miles from the coast, Lake Sonoma provides an inversion layer that prevents the heavier fog that typically blankets other Northern California appellations, allowing for longer, more consistent sun exposure.
Moisture and daytime temperatures are regulated by howling coastal breezes and, in many cases, the steep slopes and rocky terrain require non-motorised vine management. Running through Mauritson’s Rockpile Ridge Vineyards is the Healdsburg–Rogers Creek Fault, a dominant earthquake fault in Northern California, and you can see why the story of Rockpile is pure geo-political drama.
Four Corners Wine: “Great Cabernet expression, yet quite unlike anything we’ve tried before. The nose has a great profile of bramble fruit with a really pure streak of cassis, underscored by a nice mellow minerality and the faintest of floral notes. It’s all framed by layers of fresh tobacco and cedar. The palate is fascinating, with the most incredible tannins, great energy, a rich and velvety structure with bags of super intense blackcurrant and blackberry. The finish has great length, completing an utterly refined Cabernet bursting with personality. Fantastic now, with a good 15 years ageing potential.” (Dec. 2022)