On the north side of Windsor, extending along a short stretch of the Russian River, is the Chalk Hill district, which takes its name from the warm, blanched volcanic ash hillsides that offer excellent drainage and sunny exposures. An Olympic quality equestrian show ring sits in one fold of hills, and over another is an expansive African wildlife park that features critters from springbok and eland to wildebeest and zebra. Various nurseries specialize in chipotle peppers, cut flowers, and clematis vines. Orchards of olive trees have spawned a small but growing olive oil industry and one nature preserve caters almost solely to wood ducks.
The real lure of Chalk Hill, to enophiles, are the mineral-filled, tangy fresh-grass Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays of power and substance, and the black currant and cassis defined Cabernet Sauvignons that thrive on these tawny slopes. In addition, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, both of which are often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add nuance and complexity, also do well in this appellation.
Follow several Sonoma County growers and winemakers through a typical winemaking season. Get a glimpse into the process behind making some of the world’s finest wines.