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Iron Horse is located in Green Valley in the coolest, foggiest part of the Russian River Valley, just 13 miles from the Pacific as the crow flies. There are approximately 160 acres in vine, planted exclusively to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir - with gentle, rolling hills, and a spectacular view from the winery clear across Sonoma County to Mount St. Helena. The predominant soil type is Goldridge, a sandy loam that has excellent drainage and is perfectly neutral, making it the most sought after soil type in Sonoma County, especially for Pinot Noir.
While the Iron Horse family has been a highly acclaimed pioneer in the Green Valley appellation within the Russian River area of Sonoma County, our viticultural knowledge has advanced exponentially from what we knew when the original 110 acres were planted in the early 1970’s. Today we are engaged in what's called ‘precision viticulture’ under the guidance of the leading expert, Daniel Roberts, PhD a/k/a Dr. Dirt. We no longer see one vineyard, instead, the property has been divided into 39 specific blocks, which are harvested separately and then vinified as if each block was a ‘single vineyard’ - each having been planted with site appropriate root-stock, Pinot Noir or Chardonnay and clone selections. All pruning, canopy management, irrigation, and cover crop decisions are determined on a block-by-block (and sometimes even vine-by-vine) basis, considering both the vintage at hand and the long-term needs of the land. The goal is to manage variability, and in end, make better wines, be they still or sparkling.
As of May 2013 we will have completed our replanting efforts, a significant undertaking. We started in October 2004; over the years we dug about 220 soil pits; pulled out 82 acres of vines that had been planted in the early 70’s; then planted and budded about 121,600 vines (meaning 121,600 pencil rods, preceded by 121,600 drinking straws) and had to install over 410 miles of wire. In the process we totally reconceived how we grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The Iron Horse family is a highly acclaimed pioneer in the Green Valley appellation within the Russian River area of Sonoma County. For more information on this cool, foggy and distinctive area and its signature wines, please visit Green Valley's website
Read Laurence Sterling's Blog - In the Vineyard