I’ve been to some pretty spectacular places in my life:
But nothing compares to
Albany, NY Bismark Ranch, a vineyard some 2,000+ feet up the Mayacamas Mountains. Behold:
Ned Hill, a third-generation vineyard manager who manages sites all around Sonoma, allowed me to tag along (I had to leave the three-piece suit behind) as he visited the site. So, with my Timberlands laced up, stylish Calvin Klein jeans, and vineyard-green button down, I headed with Ned, up the mountain.
As we made the drive up a one-lane, fairly treacherous road, I wondered who in their right or left minds thought to trek up this mountain and plant grapes. Ned went ahead and wondered the same, but is surely thankful. Bismark Ranch is a prized possession. Some very well-known wineries source their fruit from this site (you may have heard of Continuum Estate). We were up there checking Cabernet for Ram’s Gate Winery, a new winery opening its doors in September.
“Watch out for Rattlesnakes.” That was Ned’s only warning. He had to check on the Bismark site to see what clean-up work needed to be done, check on temperature readings and check on the new grape clusters forming. He took off around the vineyards on his four-wheeler. Told me I could take his truck around if I wanted. But there wasn’t a driver, so I decided to walk about. The weather has been unseasonably cool, for the entire valley, and especially for this spot up on the mountain – I didn’t mind, but the grapes might. They need the temperature boost to hit that perfect Veraison.
The soil is a mineral-rich powdery white volcanic ash that changes color as you walk from block to block. It’s white here, and 30 feet that way it’s red, and 40 feet over there it’s gray. Pretty amazing. The complexity of flavors imparted to wine, that come out of this site, amount to the complexity of a Melville novel – ponderous, magnificent, forward-thinking, delectable. Oh, and the views… well… One can make out San Francisco, which is one full hour drive south of the site. I told Ned that I have special contact-lenses, which allow me to see incredibly far distances and that I could even see New York City just to the east. He didn’t talk to me after that comment. Or maybe I never made that comment.
Maybe it’s time to watch this video.
Then it’s time to let the photos do the talking: