is named for a tribe of Costanoan Indians that once inhabited the remote area
of the Gavilan Mountains to the east of the Salinas Valley in Monterey County.
Dick Graff fell in love with the beauty and isolation of the land in the 1960's,
but his main reason for choosing this site was the topsoil and the climate, the
"terroir." The original vineyard was planted in 1919 by a Frenchman
looking for a site that resembled the soil in his native country. There were additional
plantings in 1946, and the first commercial wines were produced by Philip Togni
The hills where vines are planted and the winery now stands, exist in an extremely
dry climate. The sparse, shallow soil is marbled with limestone of poor organic
content. Temperatures can vary up to 60º in one day. Summer months range from
40º at night to 100º at midday with as little as seven inches of rainfall in a
calendar year. However, these adverse farming conditions produce fruit characterized
by intense, concentrated flavors and, in turn, wines of extraordinary depth, flavor
and varietal characteristics, with layers of complexity that express themselves
more fully as they mature. At Chalone Vineyard, wine is perceived as coming from
the vineyards and the function of the winemaker is to help the grapes achieve
their maximum potential.
Winemaking techniques are based on traditional Burgundian methods and have been
adapted, through careful experimentation, to the climate and soil conditions unique
to the Chalone appellation. All of the white wines are fermented in French oak
barrels in underground cellars, and the Pinot Noir is aged in the similar French
oak for 14 to 16 months.