Vineyards: Stuhlmuller Vineyards is located at the southern edge of the Alexander Valley, where it converges with two other highly regarded Sonoma County appellations, Chalk Hill and the Russian River Valley. On its eastern edge, the 150-acre vineyard borders the Russian River. Situated in a unique location that is part river benchlands and part hillside, the vineyard benefits from its alluvial gravel soils and the more rocky soils that comprise the hillside sections of the vineyard.
Five blocks of Chardonnay are planted in the well-drained, benchland soils. The famous Gauer Upper Barn clone, one of California's most sought-after Chardonnay selections, comprises 80 percent of these vines. The 2008 Estate Chardonnay is crafted from a mix of Gauer and clone 4 fruit. From the Gauer clone, the Chardonnay derives flavors of Asian pear, spice and a natural nuttiness, while the clone 4 grapes contribute mild tropical flavors. The Vintage: After a normal bud break, we saw unusual April frosts in the vineyard. Though these frosts reduced overall yields slightly (10%), our frost protection worked well, preserving fruit quality. A cool May was followed by a warm summer and a hot July/August finish, with our Chardonnay harvest concluding on September 10. This sustained hot weather produced a rich and voluptuous Chardonnay vintage, resulting in full-bodied, lush-textured wines. Winemaking: To accentuate the signature fruit and natural nuttiness of our estate grapes, we fermented this wine with 100% indigenous yeasts. Aging occurred in both barrels (91%) and larger casks (9%), all of which were French oak (10% new). The wine was fermented sure lie for 8 months and underwent 76% indigenous malolactic fermentation. The Wine: From its lemon-green color to its aromas of Bartlett pear, Meyer lemon peel, hard lemon candy, clove and honeysuckle, this wine offers a captivating first impression. On the palate, it is lushly textured and full-bodied, displaying flavors of poached pear and lime custard, alongside brown baking spices and Stuhlmuller Vineyard's signature wet stone minerality.