Ascending the olive tree-lined drive to Chalk Hill Estate, it’s immediately clear that you’ve stumbled upon a complete world within a world. Tucked away in the northwestern corner of Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley, the undulating 1,300-acre property encompasses the winery and hospitality center, culinary gardens, stables, a converted equestrian arena, forested terrain and ponds – with only 382 acres planted to vineyard. Panoramic views of biodiversity command the eye in all directions, making it difficult to focus on just one spot. However, focus has never been a problem for Chalk Hill, the first winery in the eponymous AVA with which it shares its name.
Over Four Decades of Chardonnay Leadership
Situated in an ideal climate for Chardonnay – a balance of maritime influence and sunshine – Chalk Hill has been a leader in studying and evolving this varietal’s style. “Over one-third of our acreage is planted to Chardonnay,” notes Vineyard Manager Brian Malone, “With 13 different soil series and 23 separate clones of Chardonnay grown here, we give our winemakers quite a spice rack.” Extensive clonal studies conducted in the 70’s in partnership with UC Davis have guided planting decisions in the winery’s sustainably farmed vineyards, and ultimately led to the discovery of the winery’s own Chalk Hill Chardonnay clone (97).
Diverse Landscape, Diverse Plantings
The unique topography and geographical diversity of the property allow more than Chardonnay to thrive here, and the winery produces a wide range of acclaimed wines ranging from bold Cabernet Sauvignon to lesser-known varietals like Sauvignon Gris. The winery’s culinary gardens produce a year-round abundance of vegetables that Estate Chef Alec Graham artfully pairs with the wines, proving the adage “what grows together, goes together.”
A Culinary Tour of the Estate
If you can’t explore the estate yourself, indulge in a curated menu that provides a glimpse of this storied property, founded in 1972. Awaken your palate with a glass of Chalk Hill Estate Sauvignon Blanc, a brightly elegant wine that shines on its own, or can be paired with a Citrus and Chevre Salad with White Wine Vinaigrette. The Chalk Hill Sonoma Coast Chardonnay melds orchard fruit aromatics with a bit of toasty marshmallow. Follow the winery’s example and pair the Chardonnay with crunchy fried chicken and briny caviar for a decadent and down-home treat. For Pinot Noir aficionados, the Chalk Hill Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir balances bright acidity with velvety soft tannins and lingering notes of dark chocolate and is delicious with herbed pork tenderloin and sauteed mushrooms.
For a winery site-visit in a bottle, nothing beats the bold Chalk Hill Estate Red, which showcases the property’s ability to beautifully produce many varietals. The blend of bold blackberry, tobacco leaf, vanilla and spice are deliciously savored with a simple salt and peppered New York steak.
2019 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
Subtle gold tones shine through in this Chardonnay. Aromas of red apple and ripe pear meld with hints of honeysuckle and orange-peel and a bit of toasty marshmallow.
Dark ruby in color, the Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir with aromas of black cherry and plum backed by subtle notes of mocha and vanilla. Juicy flavors give way to a dark chocolate, velvety finish.
To learn more about Chalk Hill Estate Vineyard & Winery visit www.chalkhill.com or visit the Sonoma County property, open seven days a week, 15 minutes from downtown Healdsburg, California.