In the Santa Cruz Mountains at Mindego Ridge
“We didn’t think we’d have great wine so soon,” said David Gollnick, of Mindego Ridge Vineyard. “We thought it’d be 7-8 years before we got something so expressive. “ Yet, at this year’s In Pursuit of Balance, winemakers kept referring tasters to their table. “We’d asked Ehren [Jordan, the winemaker] if we should send the wines to critics and he let us know that 200 wines were submitted to fill four slots at the IPOB tasting, where Jon Bonné was one of the blind tasters. ‘What more do you need?’ Ehren asked,” added David and laughed.
David and Stacey Gollnick met Ehren through Bob Bath MS, who they met through Rex Geitner, the vineyard manager who’d helped them construct and plant their hillside vineyards. “He was very intrigued by Santa Cruz,” said David of Ehren. “He wanted to make wine here. He had an interest because of his passion for cool climate and unique terroir. It’s why Bob introduced us.”
Arriving at Mindego Ridge in 2013, Ehren works without the addition of SO2 in the crush pad, with native yeasts and with minimal oak. “He believes in allowing the character of the fruit and site to come through without masking it with oak,” said Stacey. “There’s always a consistent remark from Ehren’s cellar, they can’t believe the acid [in the fruit]. They don’t see these kinds of acid levels.
Totaling 40 acres, Mindego Ridge has 10 acres planted to vines. Facing south with well draining soils and land that had already been cleared, David and Stacey knew that they wanted to grow fruit here the first time they saw the land. “It’s a forest,” David said, with redwood, oak and conifer trees. “It’s a very unique site with unique terroir. What sets Santa Cruz Mountains apart from Napa or Sonoma or the Santa Rita Hills is that there’s only 600 acres of Pinot Noir and it’s locked by trees.
Inspired by the work of their neighbors at Rhys Vineyards, a mile up the road, David and Stacey are focused solely on the farming of their land. “That was a big day for us, to have Ehren come out,” said David. “We think we do a good job with farming, but Ehren thought it was meticulously cared for. We are immensely grateful to rely on Ehren’s expertise in the cellar. This allows us to be 100% focused on farming and grape growing without distractions
“We introduce ourselves as farmers,” he continued. “The wines are a reflection of where we live. There’s a mineral component. We’re in the middle of nature. We taste the love that we put into the farming.”
With three different vineyards, Mindego Ridge has 11 different blocks. The 1.3 acres of chardonnay are the lowest vineyard, planted to the coolest climate by the couple’s house at 650-750 feet above sea level. The two vineyards of pinot noir total 8.7 acres at 758-935 feet. Here, the temperatures are 8-10ºF higher at the top of the slope due to sun exposure and the transference of cool air that travels down slope.
Situated with the Pacific Ocean just eight miles west, and the San Francisco Bay to the east, California’s typical heat spikes are moderated. And with the Alpine Creek near by, the Gollnick’s are well on their way to dry farming. “The roots aren’t yet deep enough to reach water,” said David of their young vines. “In some places, we have heavy soils that store water.” And in 2014 they irrigated twice before veraison and twice after harvest. Farming sustainably, employing as many organic practices as possible, the couple believes in sustainability across the board.
“Ehren’s wines are fairly priced,” said David. “It’s part of what attracted us to him. We could put these wines at $80 a bottle retail, but that’s not sustainable. We want people coming back.”
To read more on Mindego Ridge, click here.