Witters Vineyard Gamay NoirEl Dorado
At 3300’ elevation, the Witters vineyard is one of the highest plantings in California. This surreal sub-alpine site was singled out by local El Dorado stonefruit grower Ron Mansfield when he and Steve Edmunds began to envision the first Gamay Noir planting in California in over a generation. The year was 1999 and the property was planted to Bartlett pears, but with dropping pear prices, the appeal of planting wine grapes was enough to convince Bob Witters to let Steve and Ron plant the site to Gamay Noir in 2000. Gamay was a gamble in this location. There was no track record for the variety in the area or even in California for that matter, but after a trip to tour and taste in the Cru Beaujolais regions of Fleurie and Morgon in Beaujolais, the duo became convinced of its potential at Bob Witter’s remote site. At higher in elevation in this region, the vines would be crushed by frost in the spring. As it is, we continue to see the uneven fruit set effects of cooler years compared to just 800’ lower in elevation. In subsequent years, Witters has proven to be a fantastic vineyard with its deep volcanic clay-loam soil, studded with Quartz and Feldspar crystals. The superlative northerly exposition and textbook airflow drainage patterns create a singular site that speaks with a strong voice for Gamay in California. The vines are planted on a gently sloping bench that looks North towards the snow covered peaks of the nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains. The days are bright and warm but nights are cold, allowing for an extended growing season that produces grapes loaded with character. The fruit we have harvested from this site since 2011 is bright and peppery, electrifying with bright acidity, light pigmentation, and soaring, spice driven aromatics. There is a lean edge to this wine that harmonizes beautifully with the density and color produced in the fruit from the nearby Barsotti vineyard. Witters is grape growing at the outer edge and the wines tell that story well.
Soils: Aiken Series; Volcanic Clay Loam
Vine Density: 6’x10’