It all started with a half acre of Cabernet Sauvignon, planted in the “wrong” place. Early in 1995, my wife Saron and I were asked by our friend Leonard if we wanted to take over his small (0.5 acre) vineyard and make some wine for ourselves… By then, I suspected that the reason his home-made Cabernet-Merlot blend tended to fall firmly on the leaner and meaner side, had more to do with the unusually cool micro-climate in which he planted his vines than with the very humble way he was making them in the tiny rustic stone cellar he built with his own hands. I asked if he would let us experiment with grafting it over to Pinot Noir, a grape variety famous for it affinity to such conditions. He said yes, and Saron proceeded to graft these 400 vines to Pinot; we also doubled the vineyard density by “own-rooting” a Pinot vine between every two grafted ones. This is how our “Old Block” came to be. Three years later Leonard sold us this piece of land and Clos Saron was born.
The Sierra Nevada Foothills are certainly not the first to spring to mind when thinking about Pinot Noir in California, and yet our “Home Vineyard” has proven to offer a remarkable if unlikely microclimate and soil combination for the successful production of a distinctive, expressive rendition of this variety. By now, the Home Vineyard – located in Oregon House, California (Yuba County) – is 2.5 acres in size, comprising forty five hundred own-rooted Pinot Noir vines. It is Planted on a gentle, well-drained, north-east facing slope at 1500-1600ft. altitude, in yellowish clay-loam topsoil on decomposed granite and volcanic ash subsoil, sprinkled with fragments of granitic rocks and quartz. The virgin soil is pure, uncontaminated, alive with microorganisms and earthworms.