Defined by Mountain Fruit
Jason Pahlmeyer understood that making wines with exceptional concentration, complexity, and ageability required venturing to extremes. That’s what drew him to the rugged parcel of vines on the ridgeline of Atlas Peak that would become his iconic estate vineyard. That is why, more than 35 years later, Pahlmeyer remains defined by mountain fruit, possessing the soulful character born of demanding terroir and exacting fieldwork.
More hours of sunlight lead to greater ripeness and complexity.
Vineyards above 1,400 feet—such as our Water’s Ranch, Stagecoach, and Antica parcels—typically benefit from three more hours of sunshine per day compared to lower altitudes that are often cloaked in morning fog. This additional sunlight ensures the berries achieve a deep, rich color and complex flavor compounds.
Cooler temperatures result in more complete phenolic ripeness and greater fruit intensity.
With daytime temperatures averaging 5-10 F cooler, our mountain vines respire less acidity to produce energy; the acidity retained in the grapes results in greater freshness and balance in the wines. Cooler temperatures also prolong the growing season, allowing the clusters to hang longer on the vine and achieve optimal flavor development. Our Rancho Chimiles parcel, while slightly lower in elevation, sits close to the San Pablo Bay and enjoys cooling afternoon breezes that moderate temperature.
Low-Fertility, low-vigor soils yield smaller berries with greater concentration.
Thinner, rockier, poorer, and better-drained high-elevation soils naturally stress the vines, reducing yields by generating fewer shoots with limited clusters and smaller, thicker-skinned berries. The higher skin-to-juice ratio brings higher acidity, more tannin, and greater flavor concentration.
We farm responsively for balance and depth.
Farming our mountain parcels vine-by-vine, we can achieve a careful balance between broad structure and phenolic maturity. Dramatic mountain terrain challenges us with various slope grades, sun aspects, and microclimates. Through meticulous fieldwork, we optimize hang time and reach optimal ripeness, moderating Brix levels (e.g., 26.7 Brix for Cab and 24.5 for Chardonnay) so that our wines possess focused fruit and tremendous finesse.
We vinify gently for honest and vivid expression.
From vine to barrel, we handle the fruit with extreme care. We hand harvest, block by block only when each vine has reached optimal ripeness. The fruit, picked before sunup when skins are cool and firm, are gravity-fed to tank. Throughout the fermentation process, we employ little to no pumping, extracting juice gently with a basket press and bottling unfined and unfiltered to retain the purist, most eloquent expression of the wine.