One of the highest vineyards in California, located in the cool climate Yorkville Highlands AVA.
Located in the Mendocino appellation of Yorkville Highlands, Halcón Vineyards overlooks Anderson Valley and the Pacific beyond. At 2500ft it is one of the highest vineyards in California. The northerly location, ocean exposure and altitude combine to produce a climate remarkably similar to the Northern Rhône region of France.
Above the fog line, the nighttime and early morning temperatures are warmer than the valley below. Conversely, the altitude and regular afternoon breezes moderate the peak temperatures. This smaller diurnal swing provides longer, slower ripening and increased complexity.
Yorkville Highlands is located on the central belt of the Franciscan Complex, which is comprised of heavily metamorphosed sandstone of 60-150 Million years of age. Halcón Vineyards sits on a geologic band known as Yorkville Complex, a rare soil type based on fractured shale, mica-schist and quartz-rich rock. This ancient rock erodes into a thin layer of extremely low vigor soil, the very same soils that garner fame to Côte-Rôtie.
Halcón Vineyards is planted on mountainous, high altitude chaparral. The thin, fast-draining soils support very few trees; perfect ground for vines. The vineyards are arranged into multiple blocks each perched on a steep hilltop. The lower areas of the property are left in their native state, supporting a natural, healthy ecosystem.
The vineyards themselves are designed without compromise. All rows run NNW-SSE regardless of the topology. This row orientation provides an even sunlight exposure to both sides of the vines and provides maximum shading during the warmest part of the day.
The vineyards are densely planted with 3ft by 2m spacing, 2200 vines per acre. This density causes increased competition for water and nutrients, driving root structures deeper. In our own experience, and that of other growers, higher density plantings seem to provide riper fruit at lower sugar levels.
Syrah, the grand grape of the Northern Rhône, is the predominant varietal at Halcón. Heritage selections from Hermitage and Côte-Rôtie are utilized, along with the very best clones. On a protected south facing slope, there is a small planting of Grenache and Mourvedre.
There are very few definitives in winegrowing, but “the best fruit makes the best wine” is surely one of them. To this end we focus as much as our time as possible on the vineyards.
We follow a rigorous organic regime, spraying only fundamental sulphur without copper additions. Fertilization is from organic compost only. Rodent control is courtesy of the resident owls, hawks and bobcats.