In California’s Wine Country, most of the talk is about the Valleys–Napa and Sonoma. But where there’s a valley, there are mountains nearby. For decades, brave winemakers have looked to the mountains as a place to claim their stake. And indeed the mountains that flank the valleys have taken on identities of their own. From Howell Mountain to Spring Mountain, the names are gaining reputation alongside the valley counterparts. The latest Wine Country mountain to peek through the clouds is Pine.
Pine Mountain has for years existed as a summit crossed via circuitous yet scenic route when traversing between Knights Valley and Alexander Valley in Sonoma County. At 2000 feet, it is one of the more prominent features of the Mayacamas range, and it affords excellent views on clear days overlooking Cloverdale and out toward the coast to the west. Up here, in the pleasure of the relative rugged isolation, you’re more likely to keep the company of red tail hawks than of fellow wine-enthusiasts.
It is on this otherwise uneven foothold where a team of veteran winemakers from Bordeaux has announced they will open a winery. Taking on the steep hillside and taking advantage of Pine Mountain’s unique terrior, Captûre Wines is planned to be an ultra-premium producer of Bordeaux-style wines. The debut vintage, a 2008 sauvignon blanc, will be offered this summer, followed by a Bordeaux-style rose in the fall. Signature reds will debut next year.
While there are vineyards already in existence on Pine Mountain, Captûre is the first winery to take root on the hill. The team is comprised of a husband-and-wife winemaking team who hail from Bordeaux famed Chateau Latour, as well as proprietors who were previously with Verite and Lokoya. The new winery’s president was previously with Kendall-Jackson. So it’s clear that these folks know what they are doing. And they better had, as the Pine Mountain landscape is not so easily tamed.
Still, as relatively untapped as it currently is, Pine Mountain was actually one of the first winemaking regions in California. Grapes were first planted here as far back as 1850, during the state’s first winemaking boom. The timeframe dates concurrently to that of Bordeaux, coincidentally. Coupled with Pine Mountain’s soil and climate similarities to the Oakville AVA, across the mountain range to the east, the patterns emerge and the potential for creating super-lush Bordeaux styles wines becomes clear.
The first vintages were sourced from Capture proprietors Tin Cross Vineyards, an organically farmed estate situated at 2,450 feet above sea level. Tin Cross was originally planted in the 1850s, and thrived as its surrounding region served to shield such nefarious California characters like Black Bart from the lawman’s hound dogs on his trail. Today the vineyard, planted mostly with cabernet sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals, covers some 40 acres, and remains one of the highest California vineyards in elevation.
These vines serve as the catalyst for Capture, a new brand on Pine Mountain that its producers hope will capture not only their passion and skill for good winemaking, but also that incomparable human spirit that always, ceaselessly, pushes us toward the mountaintop.