Saturday, April 24, 2010

Michaud Vineyard

H i s t o r y - The Chalone Appellation was recognized in the early 80’s but its grape growing history stretches back to the turn of the Century. Curtis Tamm, a Frenchman, has been credited with establishing the first vineyard on the Chalone bench, an undulating hilly plateau that extends to the north and west from North Chalone Peak, the highest Mountain in the Gabilan Mountain Range - land described in Steinbeck’s “ East of Eden. ”

Later in the early ‘20’s, a property to the East of the Tamm property, then owned by the Dyer family was sold to a gentleman named William Silvear. Silvear and his wife Agnes lived on their farm in Watsonville but it was Silvear’s passion to plant Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc (Melon de Bourgogne), Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir. He succeeded in establishing approximately 15 acres just prior to prohibition and another 15 or so in the mid ‘40’s. The vineyard survived several subsequent owners and became what is now Chalone Vineyard. Prior agricultural activities, which included acorn harvesting and processing, were conducted by the Chalone or Soledad Indians, a tribe of the Costanoan Indians, who ranged from Atascadero to Marin.

G e o g r a p h y - The eastern skyline is dominated by the intriguing and mysterious Pinnacles, remnants of an old volcano born 28 million years ago. Eons prior to that, the land itself was born in the Pacific rift, what is now called Hawaii. Constant volcanic eruption at the rift has sent what is today called the Pacific Plate to the east, grinding away at the massive continental plate. The juncture called the San Andreas Fault circumnavigates the Pinnacles and passes 10 miles to the East. The resulting soil type is a decomposed granite - clay loam. The Pacific plate, submerged by the Pacific Ocean for most of its life, acquired numerous limestone deposits from the decay of marine organisms in this region. It is today one of the few places where granite and limestone are co-located, providing a well drained and mineral rich soil well suited to viticulture.

The region is ecologically described as a Chaparral community, receiving a modest 12-15 inches average rainfall. Additional irrigation water is supplemented by a well.

The Michaud Vineyard is situated at an altitude of 1500’ in the cooler northern end of the Chalone Appellation. Ample sun and daily temperature fluctuations of 40 to 60° F create unique growing conditions which yield a great depth of varietal flavor as well as a regionally defined compliment of mineral and spice characters (terroir). -

Full report complete with "pig roasting pics" coming up next! Cheers to a great Saturday to all - Ali

1 comment:

Jesse Becker, MS said...

I'll just copy and paste a few sentences from an e-mail conversation I was having with Randy Caparoso a few weeks ago:

Jesse to Randy:
"I was ranting about [lack of minerality in] California Chardonnay...which is the reason we ultimately love wines like's the soil! Then Kevin K. and Hardy opened LIOCO Michaud (Chalone ava., limestone/granite mix if you don't know it) we decanted it, and we drank it, and you know what? That wine has minerality! It's there, it's not kimmeridgian, it's WAY different than Chablis, but it's there, and its interesting, and I would buy that bottle and drink it at home."

That seems to be a super special site and I need to go up there and taste with Michael.

I don't think I've ever tasted the (Michael) Michaud Vineyard wines unless we tasted them together back at K&L and I forgot. I will go soon. Thanks for the post!