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FARMING
Ancient Vines • Dry~Farmed • Field Blend

Ancient Vines:
Some of the original vines on Old Hill have succumbed to old age and disease, but most of them are in relatively good health. As result of old age, the yields off Old Hill are very low, between one and two tons per acre, no more than half of what one would expect from a comparable 20-year-old vineyard in Sonoma. Economists would (and have) recommend replanting the vineyard, but we have learned that this painfully low-yielding vineyard makes superlative wines and is worth the heartache to farm. Those of us who have attained legal drinking age understand the concept of age slowing us down and a corresponding increase in quality, right?

Field Blend:
A large part of the complexity of the wines of Old Hill is attributed to the varietal blend of the vineyard ~ it is not 100 percent Zinfandel. True to the tradition of the time, about one third of the vineyard is comprised of at least 14 other varieties interspersed throughout the Zinfandel. Grenache, Petite Syrah and Alicante Bouschet are the most prevalent. Although vineyard blends in old vineyards are not unusual, the actual make up of the varieties is comparably unique. Hill chose varieties that would add color, complexity and acid structure to his wines. The Grenache provides acid back bone and fruit intensity while Alicante and Petite Syrah add color and tannin structure. The other minor varieties such as Mourvedre (Matero), Carignane, Tempranillo, Grand Noir, and Le Noir, to name a few, add layers (upon layers) of complexity.

How We Farm:
Our farming techniques are probably quite similar to Hill's. We don't use any chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides. Presumably, neither did Hill. One major difference came to my attention last spring, when I was disking the vineyard with the tractor. I uncovered an old horse shoe and I realized how thankful I am for the internal combustion engine. Hill fertilized whenever his team of horses were in the vineyard working; we compost the manure first.

Dry-Farming:
We don't irrigate the vineyard, because we believe that watering the vines dilutes the fruit intensity. Fortunately the vineyard was planted on Saint George root stock which has very deep roots capable of mining water very efficiently. This rootstock is also very long lived and resistant to most of the important pests.

 

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