Established in 1858, Gundlach Bundschu's estate vineyard is located 35 miles north of San Francisco on the southwesterly slopes of the Mayacamas Mountain Range. It's located at the southernmost point in Sonoma Valley, flanked by the Carneros district to the south, Napa Valley to the east and nestled within the larger Sonoma Coast American Viticultural Area. Rhinefarm has a unique combination of steep hillsides and cool valley floor sites, allowing us to grow a broad variety of wines at a very high-quality level.
Rhinefarm's terrain below 150-feet elevation is ideally suited for earlier-ripening, high-acid varieties. Cool air settles over the valley floor, where ancient bay waters deposited mineral-rich sediment and pockets of light stream gravel in the Huichica clay-loam soils. We focus on Pinot Noir, Gewürztraminer and Chardonnay on this gently-sloping terrain, where growing conditions consistently deliver minerality and focused acidity.
Above 150 feet, the terrain is dominated by Arrowhead Mountain, and the rocky, shallow soils consist of rhyolitic volcanic ash and alluvial wash. Steep hillside blocks are planted predominantly to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with small plantings of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Syrah and Zinfandel. Pervasive maritime breezes and long daylight exposure allow for slow, even ripening, resulting in deep color, intense flavor concentration and elegant balance in the wines.
Rhinefarm's 320 acres are intensively and sustainably hand-farmed in 60 distinct blocks according to the specific soil, exposure, slope and vine age of the site. Each block is individually monitored and tended throughout the growing season to ensure optimal health of the vine and the vineyard, and ultimately to achieve the goals for flavor development and ripeness. Each vine is touched over a dozen times throughout the season, from suckering and shoot positioning, to judicious leafing and cluster thinning to ensure slow, even ripening. Pound-per-vine targets vary by block, based on vine spacing and other factors; ranch yields average two to four tons per acre.
At Gundlach Bundschu we define sustainability broadly, seeking not only to be responsible stewards of the land, but also to preserve this land for future generations of our family. There is nothing static about this view of sustainability -- it requires innovation and action. We believe that preserving the unique ecosystem of Rhinefarm is essential to wine quality, as well as to the health of our family and business.
The introduction of beneficial predators, from owls and bluebirds to beetles and mites, and intensive pest monitoring allows us to minimize the use pesticides and herbicides. Cover crops contribute vital diversity and nutrition to the soils, and we utilize registered organic compounds and practices whenever possible. Vigilant management of our acute deficit irrigation program and water reclamation ponds promote conservation, recycling 70% of winery water. We continually seek ways to enhance environmental quality and make the most efficient use of our resources.
In November 2008, two new solar arrays were installed on our property. The first, a 1.3 acre 80kw system, provides 60% of the winery power. The second, a "floatovoltaic" system, was the first of its kind in Sonoma County. The panels float on our ponds and provide 100% of the power to our water reclamation system.
In June 2009, Gundlach Bundschu received our certification as a Bay Area Green Business from Sonoma County. And in 2012, we received our Fish Friendly Farming certification.