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Chalk Hill

There's No Chalk In Chalk Hill!

The area takes its name from the "chalky" white soils of the region. However the soils themselves do not contain any chalk but are composed of a mixture of quartzite, volcanic ash, sand and silty loam. Nearby Mount St. Helena (a once active volcano) is responsible for adding the volcanic ash to the soil mix. This mixture of soils is not very fertile and thus causes the vines to struggle for survival, which in turn results in more intensely flavorful grapes (and wine).

The Chalk Hill AVA is a sub-appellation of the Russian River Valley AVA. The majority of the vineyards in this region are located to the east of U.S. 101, near the town of Windsor, which is located about 75 miles north of San Francisco.




The Wines of Chalk Hill

Rodney Strong, a pioneer in the wine industry, was the first to use the Chalk Hill designation on a wine label (along with many others – he was the first vintner to use vineyard designations); it appeared on the company's

Photo Courtesy of MySonomaCounty.com
Photo Courtesy of MySonomaCounty.com
1977 Chalk Hill Vineyard Chardonnay five years before the appellation was formally established in 1983. Today, Rodney Strong Vineyards maintains two vineyard properties in Chalk Hill (along with their other properties) - they produce a reserve Chardonnay and an estate Chardonnay, which both bear the Chalk Hill designation.

Grape Growing in Chalk Hill

Chardonnay is still the most grown wine grape in Chalk Hill, but there is an increasing amount of Bordeaux varieties like Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Merlot being grown there as well. Other grapes that are being grown in Chalk Hill include Pinot Gris, Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc and sparkling wines.  The warmer climate and altitude variations make this area perfect for growing this diverse variety of wine grapes.

The boundaries of the Chalk Hill AVA cover 33 square miles of land within the northeast corner of Russian River AVA. Many of the region's 1,600 acres of planted vineyard land is located along the western slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains, reaching from altitudes of 200-1300 feet. The Chalk Hill region is warmer than the rest of the Russian River Valley, so harvest often takes place in September while harvest in the surrounding regions usually takes place in October (or even in November, in some cases).

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