Anderson Valley Appellation

Anderson Valley is located in Mendocino County, between 10 and 20 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean and about a two hour drive north of San Francisco.  The valley cuts laterally through the Coastal Range at 38 degrees latitude.  It is 15 miles long, stretching northwest, surrounded by dense forests on the southwestern side and grassy hills to the north and east.  The valley is heavily influenced by the cool marine air, with fog frequently snaking its way up the Navarro River from the Pacific Ocean. The result is a wide diurnal range, with the daily low temperatures often 40 to 50 degrees lower than the daily highs. Anderson Valley also experiences long Indian summers toward the end of the growing season, with warm days and cool evenings.  The valley feels remote and takes some effort to get to.  However, once there, the visitor is rewarded by a lovely, bucolic and unspoiled setting.  There are three small towns in Anderson Valley, Boonville, Philo and Navarro.  Our estate vineyard, Kite’s Rest, is located west of Philo at the end of an old logging road which runs westward following the Navarro River on the final leg of its journey to the Pacific Ocean.

“Kite’s Rest is quite simply, one of the most spectacular pinot noir vineyards in the new world.”
Robert Whitley

Kite’s Rest Vineyard is situated on a 40 acre parcel  in Anderson Valley’s western end, called the “Deep End”.  It is about 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Here our Pinot Noir vines start from the Navarro River and rise up 400 feet to meet the towering coast redwoods.  These are the tallest trees on earth at more than 320 feet, can live for 2,000 years and are found only in this unique coastal environment. The coast redwoods like the region’s cool climate just as much as the Pinot Noir grape. The cool climate is enhanced for our grapes by our vineyard’s north-facing exposure, providing us with even greater hang time that is normal in Anderson Valley.  As a result, our Pinot Noir grapes ripen slowly and evenly, yielding generous and complex fruit flavors as well as acid balance.

Our block-specific row orientation (visible in the aerial photo below) mirrors the slope of the land, which maximizes sun exposure, maintains natural soil profiles and provides us with better access to the vines for lower impact farming.  Canopy management is critical for proper sun exposure, while leaf pulling maintains good air flow and reduces the need for spraying and crop thinning throughout the growing season. It also concentrates flavors and ensures full ripening of the grapes.

When we purchased the property in 1995 it was untouched but for a small, elderly Gewurztraminer vineyard planted on four acres of loamy soil along the river’s edge (now the River Turn block).  In 1999, the old vineyard was replanted to Pinot Noir and two additional four-acre vineyard blocks were developed on the north-facing hill above the river, increasing the total vineyard acreage to 12 acres, comprised of three very distinct vineyard blocks.  We named each vineyard block after geological or physical features that define each block.



Elevation: 32 feet
Exposure:  North facing/flat
Soil:  Sandy/silt/loam
Clones:  Pommard on 3309
Row Orientation:  East/West
Trellising:  Vertical Cane


Elevation:  217 feet
Exposure:  North facing/5 to 10% slope on a natural terrace
Soil:  gravel/loam
Clones:  Pommard on 3309
Row Orientation:  East/West
Trellising:  Vertical cordon


Elevation:  321 feet
Exposure:  North facing/10 to 20% slope/ slightly shaded
Soil:  loam
Clones:  Dijon 114 and 115 on 3309
Row Orientation:  North/South
Trellising:  VSP


Santa Lucia Highlands

Santa Lucia Highlands is located in Monterey County, about a two hour drive south of San Francisco in California’s Salinas River Valley. The vineyards are planted on the terraces of the Santa Lucia mountain range, overlooking the Salinas River.  The vines elevated sites take full advantage of the morning sunshine before the stiff, afternoon winds are funneled southeast from the Monterey Bay between the Santa Lucia and the Gambian ranges to slow down ripening, and help create a particularly long growing season.  Black Kite sources grapes from two vineyards located at opposite ends of the appellation at two different altitudes.  The Soberanes Vineyard is located in the northern part of the appellation at about 400 feet elevation.  The Sierra Mar Vineyard is in the southern part of the appellation and is at 1,000 feet, one of the highest elevation vineyards in this appellation – benefiting from more sunshine and less fog.  This vineyard has naturally thin soils with low yields of highly intense fruit.



Sierra Mar Vineyard

Clones:  Pinot Noir:  Pisoni Clone; Chardonnay Dijon clones
Root Stock:  4
Row Orientation:  North/South

Altitude:  1,000 feet.
Soil:  decomposed granite mixed with gravelly loam

Soberanes Vineyard

Clone:  Pinot Noir:  Pisoni Clone; Chardonnay: Wente Clone
Root Stock:  coming soon
Row Orientation:  North/South

Altitude: 400 feet
Soil:  Arroyo Seco sandy loam


Sonoma Coast Appellation

The Sonoma Coast Appellation is large and runs from the Pacific Ocean to San Pablo Bay to the Mendocino County border.   Black Kite Cellars sources its fruit from two distinctive parts of this appellation.  We make wine from Gap’s Crown Vineyard.  This vineyard is located on the lower steps of Sonoma Mountain just above Petaluma Hill Road.  It is an east facing vineyard tremendously influenced by the marine elements – cool weather, wind and fog coming though the Petaluma Gap – a gap’s in the Coastal Range.  In the future this vineyard will become part of the Petaluma Gap sub-appellation once it is officially designated. 

Our second future source of grapes will be from a vineyard we are developing in Freestone.  Freestone is in the Western part of Sonoma County approximately four miles from the Pacific Ocean and is located at the cross roads of Bohemian and Bodega Highways.  The first release from this vineyard will be 2018.  This area is wild and windswept and truly coastal impacted daily by the ebb and flow of the Pacific Ocean.  Freestone is a bucolic and pastoral valley which is slightly sheltered from the relentless impact of the ocean.  It basks in the sunshine when it breaks through the fog.  It is cold here – our experiment here will be to prove the adage that pinot is greatest when the vines live on the edge of disaster.  



Clones:  Pinot Noir: Dijon 777; Chardonnay: Dijon 95, 76 and 15
Root Stock:  
Row Orientation:  North/ South
Soil:  Rocky, brown clay
Altitude at top:  400 feet and 100 feet above the Santa Rosa Plain
Trellising:  Vertical shoot position.  Cane pruned
Unique attributes: Lies on the lower slopes of Sonoma Mountain facing southwest.  The vineyard slowly warms up during the day after morning fog, and experiences the coastal winds coming through the Petaluma Gap, creating wonderfully long hangtimes.


Clones:  Pinot Noir: 2A, 828, Pommard, Calera; Chardonnay:  Dijon 95, Hyde Wente/Musque
Root Stock: 101-14
Row Orientation:  NW/SW
Soil: Goldridge
Altitude at the top:  150
Trellising: Vertical
Unique attributes:  Four miles from the Pacific Ocean.  Very cool climate, with cool mornings and  afternoon breezes from the nearby ocean leading to long hangtimes.