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Established in 1858, sixth-generation family-owned Gundlach Bundschu Winery is located on the southwestern slopes of the Mayacamas Mountain Range in the Sonoma Valley's southernmost point. The winery's very own 320-acre Rhinefarm is situated on terrain defined by a unique combination of steep hillsides and a cool valley floor perfect for estate grown Bordeaux reds and cool climate varietals.
Sustainability defines Gundlach Bundschu's core operations at every level. Their acute deficit irrigation program and reclamation ponds recycle 70 percent of the winery's gray water. All cardboard, glass, cork and plastics are recycled while wood chips as well as grape pumace are used for weed control. A 1.3-acre, 80-kilowatt solar array installed in 2008 provides 60 percent of the winery's power as well as a “floatovoltaic” system that floats on their irrigation ponds supplying 100% of their water system's power.
Out in the vineyards, habitat for predators like owls and bluebirds is encouraged while intensive pest monitoring minimizes the use of pesticides and herbicides. Cover crops contribute vital diversity and nutrition to the soils in conjunction with organic fertilizers. All vines are hand-farmed in 60 distinct blocks specifically matched to soil, exposure, slope, and vine age maximizing flavor development and ripeness.
Terrain below 150 feet is ideally suited for earlier-ripening, high-acid varietals. Cool air settles over the valley floor filled with mineral-rich Huichica clay-loam soils and pockets of light stream gravel deposited by ancient bay waters. Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer and Chardonnay thrive on this gently sloping terrain delivering consistent minerality and focused acidity.
Terrain above 150 feet is dominated by Arrowhead Mountain and its rocky, shallow soils consisting of rhyolitic volcanic ash and alluvial wash. Steep hillside blocks are planted predominantly with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot along with small plantings of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Syrah and Zinfandel. Prevailing maritime breezes and long daylight exposure allow for slow even ripening resulting in deep color and elegantly balanced flavor concentrations.
Gundlach Bundschu's Mountain Cuvee from 2016 is a great example of this higher elevation production. Shimmering ruby in color, this blend is vibrant and lively on the palate with a zingy spiciness. Toasted plum on the nose is a precursor to mellow tannins delivering rich bramble berry undertones that unfold into sophisticated smoothness on the palate.
Coverage made possible by participating in a sponsored tasting. Photos courtesy of Gundlach Bundschu.