The Vineyard

Burning Bench Cellars focuses exclusively on our estate Moon Hill Vineyard, which gives us full control over how the land is farmed.  We don’t purchase grapes from any other source and each vintage reflects the total production of our single vineyard.  We farm 2,500 vines which are a mixture of Dijon clones and we are constantly searching for the best combination of plant, soil and cultivation techniques in the vineyard. The vineyard is very steep, averaging grades of 20-30%, and the soils are thin, rocky and extremely low-vigor.  This is a perfect Pinot Noir growing site in conformance with the old adage “to make great wine, the vines need to suffer”.  Our clones are site-selected and we plant densely, coaxing vertically trellised vines to produce fewer clusters that bear small, intensely flavorful grapes. The vines thrive in these rocky, mineral-laced soils and are spaced in tight rows on steep terraced slopes, resembling those found in Grand Cru vineyards. This land is a challenge to farm, but well worth the effort. The soils force the vines to work hard and, not unexpectedly, this leads to excellence. Our micro-climate is also well matched to ripening Pinot Noir with nights and early mornings being typically fog laden and cold, and with the sun burning through by mid-morning.  The vineyard is oriented to an unobstructed southern exposure and typically enjoys full sun through the middle portion of the day.  After fruit set we shoot thin to sacrifice quantity for improved fruit quality by reducing yield.  During the growing season, hand-management of the canopy is key by leaf pulling and shoot positioning.  It’s the only way to ensure every cluster receives optimal exposure to air and sunlight.  In many vineyards, fruit is grown at chest height for ease of harvest.  We train ours to grow closer to the warm soil—another practice that leads to more flavorful fruit. This kind of farming requires a tremendous commitment but we believe our extraordinarily intense and flavorful fruit makes it all worth the effort.   The result of this Moon Hill Vineyard “terroir” is the production of small grape clusters with tiny dark intense fruit, lush but masculine, which provides the coveted structure found only in the most age-worthy wines.

Vineyard Facts:
3 acres
Planted 2001, 2007
Clones: 115, 667, 777 and 828 (ASW)
Appellation: North Coast, Marin County 
Exposure: South
Elevation:  620’ – 680’
Soil: clay loam