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Adelaida Cellars

Join Paul as he tastes wines from Adelaida Cellars

About Adelaida Cellars

Most visitors to Adelaida Cellars hear of our HMR Estate and Viking Estate vineyards, but few know of our future gems! Our longterm vineyard plans here at Adelaida entail planting 7 to 10 acres per year over the next several years. Not only does this strategy facilitate new estate varietals, but it also allows us to replace any existing vines that are no longer productive.

Adelaida wines currently originate in two principal estate vineyards, the HMR Estate Vineyard and the Viking Estate Vineyard. Planted in 1964, HMR Estate Vineyard boasts the oldest Pinot Noir vines on the South Central coast. Its mountaintops lie fully exposed to the raw elements at 1,700 feet elevation. There is also a small amount of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon planted on the HMR Vineyard. Our Viking Estate Vineyard was planted by the Van Steenwyk family 1992. Considerably warmer than HMR, Viking is flanked by two adjoining ridges that shelter its 1,700-foot elevations. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and a small amount of Cabernet Franc can be found on the Viking Vineyard.

HMR Estate Vineyard

Tasting wines from Adelaida Cellars with Paul Kalemkiarian.Most of the wine world is aware of the 1976 Paris tasting where a Napa Valley Cabernet and Chardonnay upset their French counterparts, but few have heard of Gault Millau's 1979 Olympiades du vin that selected a Paso Robles Pinot Noir over some highly rated Red Burgundies. The pinot noir was crafted by legendary Winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff from grapes grown on the Hoffman Mountain Ranch (HMR) in the Adelaida district. Fittingly, the winemakers behind the earlier champions, Mike Grgich and Warren Winiarski, learned the trade while serving under Tchelistcheff at Beaulieu Vineyards in the 1960s.

"I planted pinot vines in 1963," says Dr. Stanley Hoffman, making HMR the oldest pinot noir vineyard on the South Central Coast (San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties). He hired Tchelischeff in 1973.

Dr. Hoffman's vision should not to be taken for granted. The Adelaida area was a rugged place in the early 1960s and the least likely of places to cultivate the temperamental pinot noir grape. It was mostly barren ranch land with few paved roads, some beef cattle, and large patches of live oak, alder and manzanita.

Three years after acquiring Adelaida Cellars in 1991, the Van Steenwyk family purchased a 400-acre portion of the Hoffman Mountain Ranch, including all of the original pinot noir planting. Substantial care, investment and patience were necessary to return the vineyard to its former glory, but the family's vision and the talent of their viticulturists have paid off. Exceptional pinot noir once again bears the HMR Vineyard designation.

HMR enjoys one of the coolest climates in West Paso Robles. It is situated 16 miles from the coast at 1,700 feet of elevation at the southern end of the Santa Lucia Mountains. The pleasant conditions are profoundly affected by the dynamics of California's vast Central Valley. Driven by the force of hot air masses rising above the valley during the growing season, cool ocean breezes funnel through the Templeton gap to temper warm afternoons in the vineyard. Temperatures drop by as much as 50 degrees overnight, making it one of the most extreme diurnal variations in the state. The marine layer insures the development of essential grape acidity and ideal ripeness. Yearly rainfall is over 25 inches and fog is rare.

Planted on their own roots in a widely spaced configuration, the 32 acres of pinot noir vines grow on steep, rolling ridges that face south-to-southwest. Clay loam soils of only six-to-nine inches, infused with fractured limestone shale, lie atop boundless layers of chalk-white bedrock. "The rocky calcareous soils of these historic vineyards controls their vigor," says Winemaker Terry Culton. "This results in added vine stress and lower yields, but produces more intensely flavored fruit. In keeping with the winery's sustainable philosophy, the vineyard is not tilled, encouraging native grasses, wild sage and rosemary to flourish between the rows." Furthermore, no chemical sprays or fertilizers are applied.

Quite rare in California, the underlying limestone of the Adelaida district is part of a narrow coastal strip that extends from San Diego to Monterey. Tectonic plate movement over the past 20 million years has pushed these deposits north from their origin in the vicinity of modern-day Mexico. Geologists from California State University San Luis Obispo believe they were spawned in the underwater canyons of warm, shallow seas during the Upper Cretaceous period.

The shallow, well-drained soils associated with these formations (the Linne Colado series) were formed from weathered calcareous shale and sandstone. They lie on hills and mountains with slopes up to 75% and pH ranges of 7.0 to 8.5. The native vegetation is oak woodland. Because of the rocky nature of the higher elevations, the settlers who cleared the area farmed only the lower valleys.

The story behind the HMR Vineyard begins with ancient soils, was given breath by an intrepid winegrower, and ceremoniously continues in the capable hands of Adelaida Cellars. Each wine bears the unique signature of exotic limestone, venerable vines, chilly nights, and a standard of excellence established by Dr. Hoffman over 40 years ago.

Eighteen acres of syrah were planted on the ridgetops contiguous to HMR (1,700 feet of elevation) in 2002: 4.5 acres of clone A on 110R and 1103 rootstocks, 4.5 acres of Estrella clone on Fercal rootstock, and a nine-acre experimental vineyard composed of numerous clone and rootstock combinations. The young vines saw their first clusters in 2005, giving Winemaker Terry Culton a glimpse of their potential. The experimental planting was a joint effort by Cal Poly and Adelaida Cellars. Dr. Tom Rice and his students conducted studies to identify soil types while Dr. Keith Patterson worked with Adelaida to select clone-rootstock combinations that best suited the findings. After reviewing the soil reports, rootstocks available in the U.S., Australia and France were chosen. The vineyard clone-rootstock pairings were then plotted in scientific random order with the hope of finding the combination that produces the best wine.

Viking Estate Vineyard

The Van Steenwyk family developed Viking Estate Vineyard shortly after purchasing Adelaida Cellars in 1991. "In contrast to HMR, our historic vineyard that is more suitable to pinot noir, Viking provides the warm growing conditions needed for serious cabernet sauvignon," says owner Elizabeth Van Steenwyk.

Viking is located 16 miles from the coast near the south end of the Santa Lucia Mountains. Its very warm climate and occasional heat spikes are profoundly affected by the atmospheric conditions of California's vast Central Valley. Sheets of hot air ascend above the valley during the growing season, drawing cool ocean breezes through the Templeton gap (a break in the Coastal Range) to relieve afternoon heat in the vineyard. Overnight temperatures drop by as much as 50 degrees, making it one of the greatest diurnal variations in the state. The marine layer insures the development of essential fruit acidity and ideal ripeness. Annual rainfall is over 25 inches while fog is rare.

Fifteen acres of cabernet sauvignon grow on a steep, uniform ridgetop that is sheltered by two higher, neighboring ridges. The vines, clone 8 bench-grafted to 110R rootstock, were planted in a densely spaced pattern at 1,600 feet of elevation with a south-facing aspect to the sun. Shallow clay loam soils, integrated with fractured limestone shale, lie atop deep layers of chalk-white bedrock. "The rocky calcareous soils of these historic vineyards controls their vigor," says Winemaker Terry Culton. "This results in added vine stress and lower yields, but produces more intensely flavored fruit. In keeping with the winery's sustainable philosophy, the vineyard is not tilled, encouraging native grasses, wild sage and rosemary to flourish between the rows." Furthermore, no chemical sprays or fertilizers are applied.

Viking Cabernets owe their unique character to a favorable climate, rare soils and gentle handling. They begin at the roots, pushing through layers of limestone and topsoil and bursting to fruition with earthy richness. Grapes are handpicked into small bins, fermented with little intervention, and aged in the finest oak barrels. They possess complex aromas and flavors, bright, concentrated fruit, and coveted balance.

Bobcat Crossing

Bobcat Crossing is our most conspicuous vineyard as it can be seen on the slaloming drive between Adelaida Road and the winery. This property is planted with the Portuguese varietals touriga nacional, tinto cao and souzoa, as well as muscat blanc (first crop was in 2004).

Anna's Vineyard

Anna's Vineyard is our Rhone vineyard.  We have planted, Grenache Noir, Grenach Blanc, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Counoise, Picpoul Blanc, Viognier, Petite Syrah, & Roussanne. Most of these clones, which originated from Chateau de Beaucastel in France's Chateauneuf-du-Pape region, were planted in early 2005. The grenache and mourvedre are blended with syrah to form our Version Rhone Style Red, while a small percentage of petite sirah will add complexity to our zinfandel.

Michael's Vineyard

Eighteen acres of head pruned, Heritage clone zinfandel were planted in 2004 on a west facing slope off Peachy Canyon Road, adjacent to our HMR Vineyard. The cuttings primarily came from neighboring Will Pete Vineyard (vines planted in the 1890s) and were propagated at Clevenger Vineyard (also westside Paso Robles) for use at Adelaida.

The Soil

Quite rare in California, the underlying limestone of the Adelaida district is part of a narrow coastal strip that extends from San Diego to Monterey. Tectonic plate movement over the past 20 million years has pushed these deposits north from their origin in the vicinity of modern-day Mexico. Geologists from California State University San Luis Obispo believe they were spawned in the underwater canyons of warm, shallow seas during the Upper Cretaceous period.

The shallow, well-drained soils associated with these formations (the Linne Colado series) were formed from weathered calcareous shale and sandstone. They lie on hills and mountains with slopes up to 75% and pH ranges of 7.0 to 8.5. The native vegetation is oak woodland. Because of the rocky nature of the higher elevations, the settlers who cleared the area farmed only the lower valleys.

Our unique calcareous soil is the envy of many, as some of Europe's greatest wine-producing regions have similar limestone-based soil. Because of our soil, our wines, both red and white, have a noticeable mineral characteristic which is very rare in California.





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