Sustainably Farmed Vineyard   Gustafson Vineyards  Estate Wines Like No Other

"Wine is sunlight, held together by water"

Grapes

Gustafson Family Vineyard is sustainably farmed with respect for the vines, the land, and the winemaking process. At 1800 feet above sea level, we are the highest elevation estate vineyard and winery in Sonoma County. Our unique high-elevation microclimate sits above the seasonal Dry Creek Valley fog, providing our vines with cool morning sunlight and moisture-free ripening throughout the summer and fall. The additional sunlight hours and warm summer days are tempered by late afternoon Pacific breezes from the Sonoma coast, keeping our average summer temperatures to a comfortable 85 degrees.

Explore our Estate Vineyard

Scroll down to explore the unique micro-climates that define our estate wines.

Heritage Tree

  • Date Planted: 2004
  • SIZE: 3 Acres Elevation: 1700 - 1800 FT
  • Aspect: NE – SW
  • Slope: Gentle east sloping hillside
  • Soil Type: Josephine Loam
  • Varietal: Zinfandel
  • Rootstock: St. George; A French cultivar known as Rupestris du Lot in its home country. St. George is a hearty, disease resistant rootstock that is perfectly suited to poor soils. It was widely used in the early years of California grape planting but its inherent vigor has made it unpopular for all but the most nutrient-starved soils. It is now used almost exclusively for Zinfandel and Petite Sirah and is common in high-elevation sites.
  • Clone: St. Peter's Church - Named for St. Peters Catholic Church in Cloverdale, CA. At roughly 120 years old, the vines planted on the small 7-acre parcel behind the church are some of the oldest in California. Their longevity indicates strong disease resistance, and they have propagated hundreds of vineyards in the local area.
  • Trellising: VSP 5 x 8 (Vertical Shoot Positioning, vines are spaced 5' apart in rows that are 8' apart)
  • Pruning: Spur pruned, 4 to 6 spurs per cordon
  • 1st Production Year: 2006
  • Wines from this Block: Estate Heritage Tree Zinfandel
  • Description: Named for the 200+ year old madrone tree that crowns the crest of the hill, this block consistently produces our highest quality Estate Zinfandel grapes. Healthy Madrone trees are like a divining rod for good vineyards; they prefer poor, well drained soils and are susceptible to the same soil pathogens as many rootstocks. Our Heritage Tree is the oldest and largest madrone in Sonoma County, and perhaps the entire state of California. Dan Gustafson saw this stately madrone from the side of the road in 2002, and it is one of the primary reasons he selected this property for growing grapes.

East Ridge

  • Date Planted: 2004
    • SIZE: 3.08 Acres
    • Elevation: 1700 FT
    • Aspect: NE – SW
    • Slope: Gentle north sloping hillside
    • Soil Type: Hugo Loam
    • Varietal: Petite Sirah
    • Rootstock: St. George; A French cultivar known as Rupestris du Lot in its home country. St. George is a hearty, disease resistant rootstock that is perfectly suited to poor soils.  It was widely used in the early years of California grape planting but its inherent vigor has made it unpopular for all but the most nutrient-starved soils.  It is now used almost exclusively for Zinfandel and Petite Sirah and is common in high-elevation sites. 
    • Clone: 03 – "03" is one of the many "clean" clones certified by the UC Davis Foundation Plant Services (FPS).  The UC Davis lab began "cleaning" popular clones in the 1950s by removing pervasive plant viruses, and most California vineyards planted in the last 40 years utilize these clean clones.
    • Trellising: VSP 5 x 8
    • Pruning: Spur pruned, 4 to 6 spurs per cordon
    • 1st Production Year:  2006
    • Wines from this Block: Estate Petite Sirah
    • Description: Petite Sirah has a reputation for producing bold wines with robust flavor and expressive tannins, but Petite Sirah grape clusters are actually relatively delicate; they are prone to both sunburn and wind damage, and their extremely tight cluster structure makes them susceptible to rot.  The key to producing an excellent, well-balanced Petite Sirah is finding the perfect site, and our East Ridge block is as close to perfect as you can get.  The gentle curve of the mountain protects the vines from both the prevailing wind patterns and the blazing afternoon sun, and our position above the fog gives them relatively moisture-free ripening from May to October.  Even in the most challenging growing conditions, this block has consistently produced outstanding wines that help set the bar for Petite Sirah in California.

Ridge Top

    • Date Planted: 2005
    • SIZE: .65 Acres
    • Elevation: 1850 FT
    • Aspect: E – W
    • Slope: Gentle east facing slope
    • Soil Type: Josephine Loam
    • Varietal: Zinfandel
    • Rootstock: St. George; A French cultivar known as Rupestris du Lot in its home country. St. George is a hearty, disease resistant rootstock that is perfectly suited to poor soils.  It was widely used in the early years of California grape planting but its inherent vigor has made it unpopular for all but the most nutrient-starved soils.  It is now used almost exclusively for Zinfandel and Petite Sirah and is common in high-elevation sites. 
    • Clone: St. Peter's Church - Named for St. Peters Catholic Church in Cloverdale, CA.  At roughly 120 years old, the vines planted on the small 7-acre parcel behind the church are some of the oldest in California.  Their longevity indicates strong disease resistance, and they have propagated hundreds of vineyards in the local area.
    • Trellising: VSP 5 x 8
    • Pruning: Spur pruned, 4 to 6 spurs per cordon
    • 1st Production Year:  2007
    • Wines from this Block: Estate Heritage Tree Zinfandel & Mountain Cuvee Zinfandel, depending on the vintage
    • Description: The Ridgetop Block runs along a rocky, narrow ridge that crowns the top of our mountain estate.  It is perhaps the least viewed vineyard on the property, as it is tucked away behind our famously photogenic Heritage Tree and only visible by driving past the property's entry gate.  This small parcel of vines often receives the highest temperatures in our vineyard, and the resulting fruit is closer to a classic Dry Creek Zinfandel than our other blocks: bright, expressive red fruit painted over an inviting chocolaty richness.  The wine from this vineyard is blended into our Estate Zinfandels, and the percentage that is dedicated to the Heritage vs. the Mountain Cuvée changes for each vintage.   

Logging Road

  • Date Planted: 2005
  • SIZE: 1.53 Acres
  • Elevation: 1650 FT
  • Aspect: NE - SW
  • Slope: Bowl-shaped, with the topmost portion facing almost due north
  • Soil Type: Hugo Loam, with pockets of adversarial clay and serpentine
  • Varietal: Syrah
  • Rootstock: St. George; A French cultivar known as Rupestris du Lot in its home country. St. George is a hearty, disease resistant rootstock that is perfectly suited to poor soils.  It was widely used in the early years of California grape planting but its inherent vigor has made it unpopular for all but the most nutrient-starved soils.  It is now used almost exclusively for Zinfandel and Petite Sirah and is common in high-elevation sites.  
  • Clone: 174, 383 & 470—all Davis clean clones.  
  • Trellising: VSP 5 x 8
  • Pruning: Spur pruned, 4 to 6 spurs per cordon
  • 1st Production Year:  2007
  • Wines from this Block: Estate Syrah & Estate Rosé of Syrah
  • Description: The Logging Road Block is perhaps our most challenging block for vineyard management.  The scattered pockets of dense clay and serpentine make our Syrah vines struggle a bit more than the rest of the vineyard, and the north facing slopes often create uneven ripening throughout the block.  In response to these challenges, we designated the most shaded section of the vineyard for our Estate Rose of Syrah, where the delayed ripening and low brix work to our advantage. The remaining 75% is subject to aggressive vineyard management, including annual pruning down to one cluster per cane, to ensure that our Estate Syrah reaches its full potential

Watchtower

  • Date Planted: 2005
  • SIZE: 2.35 Acres (includes lower blocks of Cab)
  • Elevation: 1600 FT
  • Aspect: E – W 
  • Slope: Steep east-facing slope
  • Soil Type: Josephine Loam
  • Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Rootstock: Millardet et de Grasset 101-14.  Known simply as "101-14," this is one of the most common rootstocks of the post-AxR1 era (the AxR1 rootstock was widely planted until it was found to be susceptible to the "Biotype B" strain of Phylloxera, a highly destructive soil pest).  101-14 is known for moderate vigor and has become a very popular rootstock for Cabernet Sauvignon, which is naturally less vigorous than other varietals.
  • Clone: 07, 191 & 337—all Davis clean clones.  
  • Trellising: VSP 5 x 8
  • Pruning: Spur pruned, 4 to 6 spurs per cordon
  • 1st Production Year:  2007
  • Wines from this Block: Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Description:   The Watchtower block is an idea site for growing Cabernet Sauvignon.  It is situated on east-facing slopes with excellent exposure and uniform soil conditions, and at 1,600 feet, it is consistently above the seasonal Dry Creek Valley fog. Fruit from this block is characterized by very small berry size, long hang time and wonderful complexity. It is named for the iconic "Watchtower" that crowns the Estate Residence, and it's proximity to the home gives our Vacation Rental guests a front row seat to our seasonal vineyard activity.

Old Vineyard

  • Date Planted: 2005
  • SIZE: 1.53 Acres
  • Elevation: 1500 FT
  • Aspect: E – W 
  • Slope: Gentle rolling hill with east-facing slopes
  • Soil Type: Hugo Loam
  • Varietal: Zinfandel
  • Rootstock: St. George; A French cultivar known as Rupestris du Lot in its home country. St. George is a hearty, disease resistant rootstock that is perfectly suited to poor soils.  It was widely used in the early years of California grape planting but its inherent vigor has made it unpopular for all but the most nutrient-starved soils.  It is now used almost exclusively for Zinfandel and Petite Sirah and is common in high-elevation sites. 
  • Clone: St. Peter's Church - Named for St. Peters Catholic Church in Cloverdale, CA.  At roughly 120 years old, the vines planted on the small 7-acre parcel behind the church are some of the oldest in California.  Their longevity indicates strong disease resistance, and they have propagated hundreds of vineyards in the local area.
  • Trellising: VSP 5 x 8
  • Pruning: Spur pruned, 4 to 6 spurs per cordon
  • 1st Production Year:  2007
  • Wines from this Block: Estate Mountain Cuvee
  • Description:  This block sits on the site of a small vineyard that was cultivated by the property's former owner. None of the "old" vines remained when Dan Gustafson purchased the property in 2002, but the resilient rootstock was still visible throughout the gently sloping hillside.  The lower portions of this block receive more afternoon shade than our other Zinfandel vines, creating fruit with slightly higher acid and distinctively bright aromatics to balance the intensity of our other Estate Zin.

Knob Hill

  • Date Planted: 2008
  • SIZE: 3.09 Acres
  • Elevation: 1700 FT
  • Aspect: NW - SW
  • Slope: Steep sloping hills with western exposure
  • Soil Type: Boomer Loam
  • Varietal: Petite Sirah
  • Rootstock: St. George; A French cultivar known as Rupestris du Lot in its home country. St. George is a hearty, disease resistant rootstock that is perfectly suited to poor soils.  It was widely used in the early years of California grape planting but its inherent vigor has made it unpopular for all but the most nutrient-starved soils.  It is now used almost exclusively for Zinfandel and Petite Sirah and is common in high-elevation sites.  
  • Clone: 3 – A Davis Clean Clone
  • Trellising: VSP 5 x 8
  • Pruning: Spur pruned, 4 to 6 spurs per cordon
  • 1st Production Year:  2010
  • Wines from this Block: Estate Petite Sirah
  • Description:  The Knob Hill is one of our most beautiful vineyard sites: a steep hill that descends into an old growth madrone forest, set against the backdrop of the rugged Rockpile mountain range.  These vines enjoy some of the best exposure on the property and the uniform, well-drained soils contribute to even ripening throughout the block—a combination that makes for excellent grape quality and relatively hassle-free viticulture.   

Picnic Ridge - A

  • Date Planted: 2008
  • SIZE: 2.09 Acres
  • Elevation: 1800 FT
  • Aspect: N - S
  • Slope: Gentle north-facing slope
  • Soil Type: Josephine Loam 
  • Varietal: Zinfandel
  • Rootstock: St. George; A French cultivar known as Rupestris du Lot in its home country. St. George is a hearty, disease resistant rootstock that is perfectly suited to poor soils.  It was widely used in the early years of California grape planting but its inherent vigor has made it unpopular for all but the most nutrient-starved soils.  It is now used almost exclusively for Zinfandel and Petite Sirah and is common in high-elevation sites. 
  • Clone: St. Peter's Church - Named for St. Peters Catholic Church in Cloverdale, CA.  At roughly 120 years old, the vines planted on the small 7-acre parcel behind the church are some of the oldest in California.  Their longevity indicates strong disease resistance, and they have propagated hundreds of vineyards in the local area.
  • Trellising: VSP 5 x 8
  • Pruning: Spur pruned, four to 6 spurs per cordon
  • 1st Production Year:  2010
  • Wines from this Block: Estate Heritage Tree Zinfandel
  • Description:  The Picnic Ridge block is perhaps our premier block for Estate Zinfandel, second only to the Heritage Tree block.  The Picnic Ridge catches the entire arc of the summer sun, from cool morning sunrise to warm evening sunset, and this ideal exposure creates excellent flavor development in our Estate Zin.  The uniform, heavily graveled soils are perfect for drainage and the strong coastal winds help to mitigate Zinfandel's natural vigor; indeed, the vines, clusters, and individual berries from this block some of the smallest of our estate vineyard.

Picnic Ridge - B

  • Date Planted: 2011
  • SIZE: 1 Acre
  • Elevation: 1700 FT
  • Aspect: NW - SE
  • Slope: bottom reaches of a steep west-facing slope
  • Soil Type: Josephine Loam 
  • Varietal: Syrah
  • Rootstock: St. George; A French cultivar known as Rupestris du Lot in its home country. St. George is a hearty, disease resistant rootstock that is perfectly suited to poor soils.  It was widely used in the early years of California grape planting but its inherent vigor has made it unpopular for all but the most nutrient-starved soils.  It is now used almost exclusively for Zinfandel and Petite Sirah and is common in high-elevation sites.  
  • Clone: 147 & 838
  • Trellising: VSP 5 x 8
  • Pruning: Spur pruned 4-6 spurs per cordon
  • 1st Production Year:  2013
  • Wines from this Block: Estate Rosé of Syrah
  • Description:  This steep north-west facing section of the Picnic Ridge block was originally planted to Zinfandel, but the Zinfandel vines often struggled to reach full ripeness.  It is the only section of the block that receives afternoon shade, owing to the healthy oak & madrone forest that covers the remainder of the hillside.  Instead of cutting down the trees, Dan & Emmett decided to utilize the vineyard's natural strengths; afternoon shade and cooler temperatures create delayed ripening and prominent acidity, which is perfect for Rosé. The Zinfandel was budded over to Syrah in 2011, creating a dedicated vineyard for our highly popular Estate Rosé of Syrah.

Summit View

  • Date Planted: 2008
  • SIZE: 1.5 Acres
  • Elevation: 1500 FT
  • Aspect: N - S
  • Slope: A bowl-shaped micro-valley, with gentle slopes toward the center
  • Soil Type: Boomer loam with sections of rich organic matter
  • Varietal: Sauvignon Blanc (80%) & Sauvignon Musque (80%) – field blend
  • Rootstock: Millardet et de Grasset 101-14.  Known simply as "101-14," this is one of the most common rootstocks of the post-AxR1 era (the AxR1 rootstock was widely planted until it was found to be susceptible to the "Biotype B" strain of Phylloxera, a highly destructive soil pest). 
  • Clone: 376
  • Trellising: VSP 6 x 8 (Vertical Shoot Positioning, vines are spaced 6' apart in rows that are 8' apart)
  • Pruning: Spur pruned, 6 to 8 spurs per cordon
  • 1st Production Year:  2010
  • Wines from this Block: Estate Sauvignon Blanc
  • Description:  This micro-valley is the site of the original sheep farm's barn, but the barn itself was deconstructed years before Dan purchased the property.  The bowl-like shape catches soil erosion from the surrounding hills and contributes to the heaviest soils on the property, which makes this block our most water-efficient; on average, these vines do not received irrigation until early July.  The Sauvignon Blanc & Sauvignon Musque (a highly aromatic clone of Sauvignon Blanc - .38 Acres total) are grown as a field blend, meaning that they are treated exactly the same in regard to farming and harvesting, and are fermented together to create our lovely Estate Sauvignon Blanc. 

Mountain Meadow

  • Date Planted: 2008
  • SIZE: 1.68 Acres
  • Elevation: 1500 FT
  • Aspect: N - S
  • Slope: A bowl-shaped micro-valley, with gentle slopes toward the center
  • Soil Type: Boomer loam, with sections of rich organic matter            
  • Varietal: Riesling
  • Rootstock: SO4 (Selection Oppenheim 4). SO4 is a German rootstock that performs well in heavy soils and has better frost resistance than most local rootstocks. 
  • Clone: 02, 09, 12 – All Davis Clean Clones
  • Trellising: VSP 6 x 8 (Vertical Shoot Positioning, vines are spaced 6' apart in rows that are 8' apart)
  • Pruning: Spur pruned, 6 to 8 spurs per cordon
  • 1st Production Year:  2010
  • Wines from this Block: Estate Riesling
  • Description:  This micro-valley is the site of the original sheep farm's barn.  The bowl-like shape contributes to the heaviest soils on the property, and it also heightens the risk of frost damage; frost, like water, tends to puddle up in valleys.  Our rootstock & clone selection has helped to mitigate the infrequent frosts, and during the growing season, the gentle sloping hillsides protect our Riesling from the harsh afternoon sun.  On average, this vineyard receives about 2 hours less sunlight than our other Estate vineyards. These cool conditions are perfectly suited to delicate white varietals and allow us to produce a delicious Alsatian-style Riesling.

South Ridge - A

  • Date Planted: 2005
  • SIZE: .36 Acres
  • Elevation: 1500 Ft
  • Aspect: NW - SE
  • Slope: 20%
  • Soil Type: Boomer Loam
  • Varietal: Cabernet Franc
  • Rootstock: Richter 110, more commonly known as 110R.  Developed in 1889 to combat phylloxra, 110R is a drought tolerant, medium vigor cultivar commonly used in hillside plantings.    
  • Clone: 214
  • Trellising: VSP 5 x 8
  • Pruning: Spur pruned, 4 to 6 spurs per cordon
  • 1st Production Year:  2007
  • Wines from this Block: Estate Cabernet Sauvignon & Estate Cabernet Franc
  • Description: This small block is produces Cabernet Franc for blending into our Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc is a classic Bordeaux blending component for Cabernet Sauvignon, and is prized for adding minerality, buoyancy, and a sense of finesse to its brawnier counterpart. We usually blend all of our Estate Cabernet Franc into the Cabernet Sauvignon (constitutes about 6 – 8% of the final blend), but in 2012, we had enough Cabernet Franc left over to create a single-varietal bottling.  It sold out almost immediately and has become a popular club-only varietal.   

South Ridge - B

  • Date Planted: 2005
  • SIZE: .18 Acres
  • Elevation: 1500 Ft
  • Aspect: NW - SE
  • Slope: 20%
  • Soil Type: Boomer Loam
  • Varietal: Petite Verdot
  • Rootstock: Richter 110, more commonly known as 110R.  Developed in 1889 to combat phylloxra, 110R is a drought tolerant, medium vigor cultivar commonly used in hillside plantings.    
  • Clone: 400
  • Trellising: VSP 5 x 8
  • Pruning: Spur pruned, 4 to 6 spurs per cordon
  • 1st Production Year:  2007
  • Wines from this Block: Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Description: This small block is produces Petite Verdot for blending into our Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Petite Verdot is a classic blending component for Cabernet Sauvignon, and is prized for adding firm acidity and complex floral notes to its heftier counterpart. We usually blend all of our Estate Petite Verdot into the Cabernet Sauvignon (constitutes about 4 – 7% of the final blend) and we have never made a single varietal Petite Verdot, but hey, never say never….

Old Olive Grove

  • Date Planted: 2004
  • SIZE: 250 Trees
  • Elevation: 1800 ft.
  • Aspect: E - W
  • Slope: Flat
  • Soil Type: Josephine Loam
  • Varietal: 4 traditional Tuscan cultivars: Frantoio, Leccino, Pendolino, and Maurino
  • 1st Production Year: 2008
  • Wines from this Block: Estate Olive Oil
  • Description: Our Estate Olive Grove is situated on some of the property's poorest soils, which is perfect for the low nutrient demands of the 4 classic Tuscan cultivars. The trees are organically farmed and hand-harvested shortly after our grape harvest.  The oil is custom crushed at a facility in Cloverdale, and yields a very small quantity of extremely high-quality olive oil.

Sustainability

As our founder, Dan Gustafson, states, "We listened to the land to preserve the balance of nature that was here before we arrived. We farm sustainably using organic compost, pesticides, and a permanent cover crop that help to support and improve the living soil." "Farming this natural vineyard requires extraordinary effort. Slopes are steep, requiring special equipment. Vines must be covered with netting before August to protect the grapes from wild birds that inhabit the vineyard – birds that eat insects year-round, reducing the need for chemicals. Vineyard management includes protection from deer, wild pigs, and turkeys. It is a reasonable price to pay for this unique terroir, and the opportunity to produce unique wines." In 2013, Dan Gustafson reaffirmed our commitment to sustainability with the installment of a 40.25 kilowatt solar panel array. The solar panels cover 98% of our peak energy use and feed carbon-free renewable energy into the local power grid.