June 18, 2016

Wills Hills

in Vineyard Profile, by . No Comments

Some vineyards have a soul. Some vineyards you just connect with. There are three aspects to a vineyard that has this impact: the way it’s farmed,  the land under and around you, and the people that farm the land. The first two aspects are the easiest to achieve.  Buying a cool piece of land, planting, and properly farming a vineyard isn’t all that unusual. But when the land is owned and operated by people that care, that put in the work, and it is their livelihood, it just has a different feel. Wills Hills Vineyard on Willow Creek Road has all three of those qualities, and then some.

I am lucky enough to get Grenache from this vineyard. The best thing about how this vineyard is managed is that it is dry-farmed; dry-landers as they like to put it, use no irrigation whatsoever.  With a grape like Grenache this is ideal. Grenache is prone to making huge clusters that tend to be thin-skinned and light in color. When dry-farming the grapes, the clusters stay smaller and the skins are thicker, which results in better tannin and color, and thus a more interesting wine. This vineyard is also head-pruned, meaning it is not trellised in the way that is more typical. Rather than being in a row where each vine is connected to the next, these vines are attached to one stake and grow more like a bush with the canes falling to the ground, thus providing the grapes with much needed protection from the sun.

Now, the land itself is more than special. This particular part of Paso Robles is as good as it gets – warm enough to allow grapes to become ripe, and cool enough to preserve acidity.  Shale and limestone soil is prevalent in this area, helping to make dry-farming possible and allowing the grapes to retain acid. With all of this and the beautiful scenery, it’s just a beautiful piece of property, and it’s not hard to find a reason to go “check” the vineyard.

Wills Hills Dry-Farmed Grenache in June 2015
Wills Hills Dry-Farmed Grenache in June 2015