The Charles Ranch was once one of the largest sheep ranches in Sonoma County. George Charles was a fourth-generation rancher in the rugged hills and raised 2,000 head of sheep along with a small herd of bison. George’s son-in-law, Lee Martinelli Sr., was a successful third-generation grape grower and consulted with George as to which grape variety would be the most suitable to plant in this unique climate. The distinct micro-climate is two miles inland from the Pacific Coastline at Fort Ross and is ideally suited for growing Burgundian varietals. In 1980 George sold his herd and used the steep 14-acre pasture to plant Chardonnay grapes, becoming a pioneer of grape growing in an area that is now considered a prime viticultural region. The vineyard was planted in 1981, being the second vineyard planted on the far Sonoma Coast.
The 2018 season was much calmer than 2017, due to the absence of extra rain and heat spikes we experienced in 2017. The moderate temperatures in the spring and summer allowed for a longer growing season and full flavor development. There was plenty of water in the soil to carry the clusters through the long growing season with minimal dehydration. Our first day of harvest in 2018 was September 10th, compared with an August 26th start in 2017. It was nice that the production crew could enjoy the Labor Day holiday right before the long hours and hard work of harvest began.