The vineyards in Sonoma Valley’s Moon Mountain District were among the hardest hit during the October wildfires, with blazes quickly plowing through vegetation. But this spring many are seeing the rebirth of some of these scarred vines. The organizers of Signature Sonoma Valley hope next weekend’s wine-centric event will showcase Sonoma Valley’s resilience. “The scope of the fire looks like our Moon Mountain District AVA map,” said grower Phil Coturri. “With spring, regrowth is slowly appearing. How quickly will this healing occur? We will learn more over the next month.”
More than 90 vintners and growers will be on hand at the event and guests will have a chance to taste wines they crafted. Prices for the events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday begin at $50, with a weekend pass for $1,750. Tickets are available at SonomaValleyWine.com/Signature-Sonoma-Valley.
The string of events includes tastings, dinners and seminars. But the most compelling for nature lovers is the event called “Immersion” where people can traipse through private vineyards to learn how grapes are groomed. It’s a behind the scenes peek of Sonoma Valley’s most iconic vineyards. The experience includes a sommelier-led tasting and discussion of the wines produced from each distinctive site, alongside the winemakers who crafted them. What follows is a farm-to-table lunch.
Those who tour the Silver Cloud Vineyard will witness the slow drip of recovery. This particular vineyard has a steep perch at 1,800 feet above the valley floor, with its high-altitude vines ribbed on the west side of the Mayacamas range. The fire came right up to the line in some areas of the vineyard, compromising part of the fruit, and some of the 2017 crop may be “declassified,” a term that means it will lose its highfalutin rank. In this case it could be downgraded to a lesser bottling, sold on the bulk market or tossed out altogether.
Winemaker Jeff Baker, along with Coturri, will lead guests on a vineyard walk and point out that the vineyard is 100 percent volcanic soil. Baker of Stone Edge Farm Estate Vineyards & Winery will later pour his wines to show how the volcanic soils — in typical years — play into crafting powerful cabernets sauvignons with a silky texture. They will talk about “terroir,” the French term that refers to all the variables in growing grapes. The complex equation includes soils, subsoils, exposure, seasonal rainfall and other climatic conditions.
“Terroir is the most important factor in world-class grapes and wines,” Coturri said. “Every time you open a Stone Edge Wine you will know what to expect. There will be a familiarity, with the differences expressed by vintages. In managing these vineyards, we strive to have the wine drinker taste the views that the vines have.”
It’s an interesting notion, bottling the view, but that’s the essence of terroir. And as the vines continue to recover from the wildfires imbibers may taste the delectable view joined by a lingering note of resilience.
Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-521-5310.