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The Habitat

The Habitat

I have long felt that a vineyard is more than just a bunch of grapevines. It is an entire ecosystem, albeit a man-made one, in which not just the plants and the soil impact the resulting wine, but the other things living nearby, the insects and birds flying through it and everything living in the soil as well. When you care for a vineyard you are also, whether you realize it or not, caring for the entire slice of the planet on which the vineyard is located. That’s why I have advocated sustainable farming for many years, before it was fashionable. The Habitat comes from the Barlow Homestead Vineyard, located just to the northwest of Sebastopol. It is farmed by a gentleman named Paul Sloan, who brings a singular approach to winegrowing. He farms several small parcels in the Sonoma Coast, and all of the sites he farms are planted to tight spacing--generally one meter between plants and 1.3 meters between rows, yielding 3600 vines per acre. Very much inspired by the vineyards of Burgundy. But he has adapted his practices to the Californian climate (for example, the fruiting wire, often only 18 inches above the ground in the old world, is higher in his vineyards to avoid the reflected heat from the ground in our hotter climate). The care and attention to detail that is lavished on these vineyards is inspiring. A pioneer, in my view, and exactly the kind of grower I want to work with. In addition to the high density plantings, he uses techniques drawn from Biodynamic and organic farming.

Paul makes wine from these vineyards. His brand is Small Vines. I help him with his winemaking, and in exchange I get access to the grapes that go into this wine.

The Habitat Pinot Noir


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