In the world of great Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the words “cool climate” have become shorthand for a more refined and elegant style of wine, where complex and delicately layered aromas evolve into beautifully delineated flavors, underscored by racy natural acidity. Those who aspire to make the most thoughtful and sophisticated expressions of this kind of wine practice their craft on the extreme cool-climate edges of California viticulture. Perched seven miles from the Pacific Ocean on a mountaintop, Albatross Ridge is a vineyard on this edge. Situated at an elevation of 850 to 1,250 feet, it is a cool, windswept location, where the temperature rarely gets above 85 degrees, and the overall growing degree days are a mere 1,650-1,950 annually. This provides Albatross Ridge with one of the longest growing seasons in all of California, allowing the grapes to gradually ripen, while maintaining acidity, complex flavors and exceptional structure.
Designed by Brad and Garrett Bowlus, with the assistance of renowned viticulturist Dr. Alfred Cass, Albatross Ridge’s 25 acres of vines are planted as a mosaic of 12 distinctive vineyard blocks. Featuring different elevations, exposures, soil makeups and clonal selections, this vineyard diversity allows Winemaker Garrett Bowlus to accentuate the complexity of the site in the wines of Albatross Ridge. The vineyard includes eight blocks and four clones (828, 777, Pommard and 115) of Pinot Noir, and four blocks and two clones (96 and 15) of Chardonnay. The vines are the finest Burgundian clones, all of which were chosen for their suitability to the extreme site, and their ability to create complex, elegant wines. In addition, because the vineyard was planted with the drought-tolerant 1103P rootstock, the vines can be farmed with an absolute minimum of water. As a result, Albatross Ridge uses approximately ¼ of the water per vine of an average vineyard.