As the golden chain of the Santa Cruz Mountains winds north – called the Chaine d’Or by Paul Masson and other early California winemakers – it summits at Monte Bello Ridge, home of the famous Ridge Vineyards, and begins a slow descent toward the village of Woodside. The tiny town, better known today as the lair of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and technology capitalists, is home to Chaine d’Or Vineyards, a small vineyard and winery perched on the eastern slope of the mountain overlooking Stanford University. The winery is a local cult favorite for the small quantities of hand-made wines it produces. The vines enjoy a southern exposure on the side of a gentle slope and a location which places us within the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation. Wines from this region are strictly controlled and 85% of the wines must come from grapes grown within the geographical boundaries. At this altitude and location the summer fog spreads around the vineyard to the north and south, cooling the nights but leaving the critical warm days. In viticultural terms this area is classified as a Region I, the coolest growing region, and the same climate in which the worlds finest grapes are grown.
The vineyard is just under two acres in size and is planted with approximately 50% Chardonnay, 40% Cabernet and smaller amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot used for blending into the predominately Cabernet Sauvignon vintage. These are the three varieties which are used today in Bordeaux for adding additional flavor and complexity in the wines of the great French chateaux. Since the total addition of these blending grapes will remain under the 25% limit our wines are labeled as Cabernet Sauvignon.
The vineyard land was prepared in 1986 and the vines planted in 1987. The trellis system is known as a French Hedge or vertical system, interesting because when it was installed in 1987 it was considered very experimental and avant-guard for California, despite being used in
parts of France for centuries. Since then much trellis innovation has been done in California largely due to the large number of vineyards which have been replanted due to philoxeria. The vertical trellis allows the shoots to grow quite high but clamps them between catch wires, forming a thin hedge which admits sunlight and ventilation and preventing the arching mildew-prone canopy previously common in California vineyards.