Phylloxera decimated the vineyards of Carneros in the late 1900s and Prohibition slowed the recovery. By the 1970s, there was growing recognition of a typicity of style and in the 1980s, planting accelerated.
Carneros nestles in the low hills of the Macayamas mountains. Although the majority is in Sonoma, the wines may be labelled as Sonoma or Napa AVA (American Viticultural Area).
Proximity to San Pablo Bay is key, the fogs and coastal breezes, channelled through the Petaluma Gap, providing a cooling influence and allowing for a prolonged growing season. Carneros won AVA status in its own right in 1983.
HdV’s wines are from a near-contiguous series of plots within Hyde Vineyards, on gently rolling hills, facing southeast.
The Chardonnay and Syrah are planted on shallow, loamy soils over ancient alluvial terraces and hard clay. The Merlot and Cabernet are clustered at the northern end of the vineyard, further from the cooling fog of the bay, the better to ripen. The soils are deeper here too and the south-east slopes are steeper.
The Pinot Noir for Ysabel, comes from a joint venture with Van der Kamp Vineyards, planted on Mount Sonoma, above the temperature inversion layer at around 1400 feet (427m) elevation – above the level of Sonoma’s morning fogs. Cooler earlier in the day than Hyde Vineyards, the fruit matures around two weeks later, with a consequently later harvest.
The temperate Carneros climate prolongs the growing season, allowing the vines to steadily build intensity and complexity whilst retaining acidity. Drainage is helped by ancient creek beds which lie between the topsoil and the clay pan. Enough moisture is generally retained to make irrigation unnecessary.