Preserving a Sense of Place with Pinot Noir
Place and wine are quite intimately connected. The plot of land where the grapes are grown has a great part to play in the ultimate expression of the resulting wine. The spot where you eventually decide to enjoy a glass will also shape your experience of a wine. Of course, place doesn’t always have to be physical. It can also be used to describe a state of mind, and in the case of Vine Hill Winery, their heart is certainly in the right place.
If you’ve never visited the Santa Cruz Mountains, it’s hard to truly appreciate the natural artistry of the landscape. The rich pine-green of the treeline stretching out into the soothing deep blues of Monterey Bay, against an alternating backdrop of bright sun and misty fog is a sight not soon forgotten. At Vine Hill, they’re committed to preserving that beauty, both for the future enjoyment of their wines, as well as the one of a kind views. This past year, the winery’s marketing director, Lore James (pronounced Lori) spearheaded an effort to form a partnership with a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the Monterey Bay. That partner came in the form of Seymour Center at Long Marine Lab in Santa Cruz, whose charter is to “educate the youth, families, and the rest of the general public about the role science plays in the understanding and conservation of Monterey Bay.” To commemorate that partnership, Vine Hill recently released their Sea Change Pinot Noir, a blend of 100% Pinot Noir from the Corralitos and Soquel wine growing regions of the Santa Cruz Mountains, named to commemorate “the symbiotic relationship between the sea and the land, and the role that each plays in our fragile ecosystem.” The winery will donate a number of cases along with five percent of the net profits from the wine’s sales each year. As Ms. James put it, “It’s our way of honoring the important link between the many attributes our area has to offer and simultaneously be able to help benefit the mission of one of our community’s most important conservators of natural resources and marine life.”
Vine Hill is also protecting and conserving the area with their farming methods. They recently received their organic certification from the Certified California Organic Farmers (CCOF). The process takes a few years and involves a lot of documentation to prove that the grapes in question are farmed without the use of chemical aids. Because certification is such a time consuming undertaking, they are only the second winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains to be granted certified status. Hopefully, wineries that already farm organically in the region will be able to follow suit and be granted the CCOF’s seal of approval.
Vine Hill’s commitment to conservation through the partnership they’ve formed with the Seymour Center, as well as their earth friendly farming methods are valuable building blocks for the future of the region. The natural beauty of the wine and of the landscape won’t last if no one puts forth the effort necessary to make sure it’s preserved. More and more people are starting to think a lot like Vine Hill, and that state of mind is an excellent place to be.