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Spring in the Cienega Valley

Dear <<First Name>>,

I want to share a real Central Coast gem I found while sourcing grapes for Waxwing:  Wirz Vineyard in the Cienega Valley, a bit south of Hollister.  Wirz is a proper “old school” California vineyard, first planted in the late 1800's, and currently farmed by Pat Wirz and his family who live on site.

Pat Wirz in front of his Riesling vines in May 2015.

One of the things you immediately notice about the vineyard is how unusual it looks. That's because the vines are head trained - a traditional way of growing grapes that has all but disappeared as modern vineyards moved to trellising.  The Riesling vines were planted in 1964 and are dry farmed (great given the drought we're in) and on their own roots - again very rare as most vines these days are grafted onto different rootstock for disease protection.

The soil is a healthy mix of granite, limestone and loam.  The site is truly spectacular: there are turkey vultures and the occasional condor overhead, and the San Andreas Fault runs straight alongside the vineyard.  There's a striking difference between the granite outcrops on one side and the undulating hills on the other.

The eastern side of the valley has smooth gentle slopes and sits on the North American tectonic plate.
The western side of the valley is defined by craggy hills with limestone and granite outcroppings.  This side is on the Pacific Plate.

The vines experience warm summer days, but at 1000ft elevation, significant cooling occurs overnight to delay ripening and allow full flavor development without too much sugar.  While some interior vineyards in California have already set fruit, this Central Coast vineyard is only now blooming.  I'm expecting to pick Riesling grapes from this site as late as October.

Wirz Vineyard will be a new addition to the Waxwing line up, and I am really excited to bring you a small batch of Riesling that is dry farmed with organic practices from head-trained 50 year old vines.  If you want to make sure you get a few bottles for your cellar, become a member of my wine club.  Hit reply and I'll get you enrolled.


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