Emeritus is committed to expressing the unique character of our vineyards. Both vineyard sites that Emeritus farms are on Goldridge soil, which is a sandy loam that usually runs one to four feet deep, underlain with clay subsoils. Our vineyards are planted at “close spacing,” inspired by the great vineyards of Burgundy, France.
Our sustainable farming practices allow the vines to naturally come into balance. With the same philosophy, Emeritus chooses to dry farm rather than adding any supplemental water to aid in the yearly cycle of the vines. Dry farming allows the vines to establish a natural balance of root mass, foliage, and fruit, and also helps the grapes achieve full ripeness without dehydrated flavors. While most irrigated vines have roots growing three or four feet deep and form a tight ball-like structure, dry farming forces the roots to grow 20 feet or more in search of water, with multiple root tendrils. This creates a healthier vine, enhancing its natural ability to adapt to weather variations.
In keeping with the hands-on approach that defines everything at Emeritus, both Hallberg Ranch and Pinot Hill are stewarded by a year-round, 17-person vineyard team led by Kirk. This team includes five Sonoma County pruning champions, and several individuals who have been with Emeritus since the beginning, as well a handful who worked with Brice and Kirk at Sonoma–Cutrer. The consummate skill and knowledge of this team ensures that both Hallberg Ranch and Pinot Hill are proactively farmed with a level of thoughtfulness and meticulous attention to detail that profoundly impacts the quality of wine.
While most vineyards begin planning or replanting when the vines hit the 20-year mark, expecting a 25-year life span, my assessment of our vines is that they will stay dynamic and healthy for 40 to 50 years, which is much more consistent with the grand cru vineyards of Burgundy. It’s clear to me that this is a result of dry farming.
—Kirk Lokka, Vineyard Manager
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