The Alexander Valley AVA is 22 miles long, ranging in elevation from 150 to 1,500 feet above sea level, and is home to our three single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Our winegrowers have found the very best grapes grow on higher elevated western slopes, or as they say, the “sweet spots”. Spread throughout our three vineyards, we’ve determined the best blocks are typically located just below the ridge tops with a western facing aspect to capture the full warmth and light of the afternoon sun. In the northern most hills near our Brothers vineyard, with average growing-season temperatures of 67 degrees, heat dominates, allowing Cabernet Sauvignon to ripen well. In the middle of the valley, Rockaway vineyard, with average temperatures of 62 degrees, balances heat and Pacific Ocean cooling breezes—allowing for classic structure development. The even cooler Alexander’s Crown vineyard, with average temperatures of 59 degrees in the southern valley, yields more delicate, “feminine” style Cabernet Sauvignon. In the distance of only 12 short miles, average temperatures change eight degrees among our vineyards during growing season, thereby allowing three very different expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Established in 1994, Rockaway is planted mostly to Cabernet Sauvignon, but has the other four classic Bordeaux varieties planted on site as well. Rising up to an elevation of 750 feet, the land generally slopes northeast and southwest, with soils comprised of gravelly clay subsoil over fractured Greywacke sandstone. This well-drained, low pH earth tends to encourage the production of small-berried clusters, ideal for making a bold, concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon with juicy red and black fruit character, and an elegantly round and seductive mid-palate.
The 2015 vintage was warm overall, but cooler than the previous few years. Budbreak was very early, weeks ahead of average. Yields were very low, in some blocks half of what we’d normally harvest. The low yields led to sugars accumulating much faster in the clusters than the speed at which ripening was occurring. Cool and hot weather alternated the rest of the summer. The acidity and tannins in the berries remained firm as we were looking at the possibility of a record early harvest date, so we chose to let the sugars go, and waited for the acids to lower and for the tannins to soften before we picked. Satisfied with the flavors, and with the acid at the right level, we picked all three varietals during a brief period around the third week of September.
The 2015 Rockaway has wonderful concentrated flavors of dark plum and red currant with notes of tobacco and leather. The earthy minerality of the wine is balanced out by notes of baking spices with a rich, complex structure and a long lingering finish. Enjoy this wine now or cellar it for enjoyment in 8 to 10 years.
94% Cabernet Sauvignon
2% Petit Verdot
BARREL REGIME: 26 months in 100% French oak barrels, 53% new