Our Rancho Santa Ynez Estate vineyards are all located in the center of the Santa Ynez Valley, allowing us to grow a very wide selection of varietals, while still maintaining an overall cooler-growing microclimate.
“At Carhartt Family Wines, we consciously farm our Rancho Santa Ynez Estate vineyards with the utmost care and attention to detail. By utilizing organic, sustainable, and regenerative practices, we are not only promoting overall grapevine health, but improving our soil biology to allow our ground to flourish for decades to come.”
– MIKE CARHARTT, WINE GRAPE GROWER
In 2017, we planted our newest vineyard, the Canyon. It is home to seven different varietals and two different trellis systems planted on steep canyon hillsides. Blocks 1A-1D are traditional VSP (vertical shoot positioning) rows, and the remaining blocks are planted in a 4ft x 4ft ‘head-trained’ system. This style of planting is done for a few reasons, most notably because it cannot be farmed by any type of machine due to the slopes being far too steep. From pruning to weed whacking, leaf-pulling to picking, everything in blocks 2-7 is performed by hand.
For the VSP blocks in the canyon, we have a special tractor with a tank-like track system in order to maintain grip when farming the steep hillsides. The VSP blocks are planted to an 8×3 system (8ft rows with 3ft in between plants) which equates to roughly 1472 plants per acre. The more dense 4×4 plantings are able to house over 2700 plants per acre!
The Mesa Vineyard is the first site of grape plantings by Mike and Brooke Carhartt. In 1996, they planted seven acres of Merlot and three of Syrah. Since then, we have grafted over to many different varietals and even interplanted some rows to increase the number of plants per acre and lower the pounds per plant ratio. The oldest plants are on a 10×6 system, meaning we have 10ft rows, with 6ft in between each plant. With the inter-plantings, it would make it a 10×3 system.
The site itself is very flat (hence the name ‘Mesa’) and sits about 300 feet above the rest of the ranch and winery. The vine rows run east to west, creating heavy south-side sun exposure, and a relatively shaded north-side. The soil structure is more or less a sandy-clay-loam, with low-fertility, meaning the grapevines achieve a healthy balance between canopy and actual grape cluster growth.
We began farming our 11 Oaks Vineyard in 2007. The vineyard was originally planted in 1986 to two clones of Sangiovese, both brought over (suitcased) from Tuscany, Italy. The two clones, Esole e Olena and Fontodi, still exist and thrive on estates in Chianti to this day. Interestingly enough, Chianti has very similar growing conditions to the central coast of California, which is why we can grow such amazing Sangiovese!
This vineyard is also home to our vacation rental (The retreat at 11 Oaks), and the vines surround the house. Since this site was planted over 30 years ago, the vine spacing is a bit mixed, but many of the blocks are 4ft rows with 3ft in between each plant. This entire vineyard is farmed by hand, and the density of plants is quite intense. While most of the blocks are planted to Sangiovese, we also have a bit of Petit Verdot and a small block of Montepulciano in front of the house.