Monday, February 22, 2016

Long Meadow Ranch's New Mendocino Vineyard Soon To Double Anderson Valley's Organic Vines: From 46 Acres to 116 Acres

Long Meadow Ranch proprietor Ted Hall with winemaker Stephane Vivier
Long Meadow Ranch, an integrated farming, restaurant and winemaking company founded by Ted and Laddie Hall in Rutherford, has been a very important leader of the organic community in Napa, where it has 86 acres of organic estate vines on two properties.

But these days, no Napa vintner can be without a Pinot Noir, and for the past several years, Long Meadow Ranch has been put in the position of buying non organic fruit for its Pinot Noir.

For founder Ted Hall, this didn't sit well. The son of an ardent organic gardener, Hall has followed the organic path in his Napa business. There he and his wife, Laddie, and their son, Chris, have created a vertically integrated organic mini-empire comprised of:
• Market produce farms, including 4+ acres on the Napa Valley floor (that has never been planted to wine grapes)
• A cattle operation raising local beef
• An olive grove and olive oil operation
• The mostly organic restaurant, Farmstead, in St. Helena, which uses produce and beef the Halls raise
• Vineyard holdings on the valley floor and on their Rutherford hillside estate
• A large winery on the valley floor
• A tasting room in St. Helena adjacent to their Farmhouse restaurant

To augment their wine portfolio to include organically grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and to source it from an area where these varietals excel, Long Meadow Ranch purchased 120 acres of land in Anderson Valley in Mendocino from the Corby family. More than 70 acres are planted.

According to John Cesano, of the Anderson Valley Winegrowers' Association, the going rate for Pinot Noir vineyards in Anderson Valley is around $100,000 per acre.

The Long Meadow Ranch vineyard is located just north of the Apple Farm in Philo and south of Edmeades, and fronts the Navarro River near Hendy Woods State Park.

While their grapes are in the middle of the three year certification process (on track for 2017 certification), Long Meadow Ranch's new holdings more than double the organic acreage in Anderson Valley AVA.

The site consists of 50 acres of Pinot Noir, 17 acres of Chardonnay and 2 acres of Pinot Gris.

Previously the only certified vineyards have been Handley's 29 acres and Filigreen Farm's 17 acres, which makes for a total of 46 acres. (Drew Family, in the adjacent Mendocino Ridge AVA, has 7 acres.) Adding 70 at Long Meadow Ranch brings the new total for Anderson Valley AVA to 116 acres.

"We aren't organic to be evangelical about it," Ted Hall said in a brief conversation when I visited his booth at the Alsace Festival Saturday. "It's just the way we farm."

Stephane Vivier, originally from Burgundy, will be overseeing winemaking for the Anderson Valley portfolio. His French bonafides are top flight: he worked under the owners of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC) before coming to work in Napa as the winemaker for Hyde de Villaine (HDV), DRC's Napa collaboration.

Vivier will make the Long Meadow Ranch wines at Sonoma's Eighth St. facility.

At the Alsace Festival Saturday, Long Meadow Ranch  poured its inaugural releases from Anderson Valley - a 2015 rosé of Pinot Noir ($25) which was everything a rosé should be - lovely, crisp and light - and a new 2015 Pinot Gris (which hadn't been officially bottled yet).

2015 is the inaugural vintage for the Long Meadow Ranch rosé
Barrel sample bottling; new vintage releases
this spring

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