Triumph of Terrain
Triumph of Terroir!
The central thesis of what constitutes the most notable of wines is they must derive from the finest, uncompromising “terroir.” No wine expert disagrees, no aficionado, no vintner, anyone who has thought about wine and its history would not differ in the least. Terroir is the holy grail for the supreme wines. That is not figurative; it is a fact of earth science and can be accurately described and defined. Ultimately the greatest terroir must be proven through scientific investigations and studies rather than individual judgement.
The Carmody McKnight vineyard and neighborhood rule the world in viticultural perfection. This is not an opinion of the winery proprietor, a wine magazine or critic. It is a fact of science determined by the world’s leading earth scientists and viticulturalists after decades of unprecedented university-directed studies and research.
It is difficult not to arrive at such a conclusion at first sight. The rolling terrain of Paso West segmented by verdant hills. The clearest, cleanest blue horizon with almost no humidity (anomalously bordering the sea). Most diseases are caused by fungi which grow and spread under high humidity and rainy weather prevalent in even the most esteemed appellations.
Napa no more; Burgundy and Bordeaux far behind. When introduced to the remarkable attributes of the area and especially Carmody McKnight it seems hard to believe. It certainly was so when an eminent earth scientist spotted an out of place rock on the road. It turned out to be a volcanic rock and the scientist immediately made a visit up the driveway to Gary Conway. This rock could only derive from a volcano that was just about to be discovered and led to the launch of the remarkable international studies of the land.
Dr. Thomas J. Rice
The scientist was Dr. Thomas J. Rice. The professor, during ten years as chairman, developed the soil science program at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. The Department consistently attracts the largest soil science undergraduate student enrollment in the United States.
Dr. Rice supervised over 50 major senior projects and Masters of Science theses. Most of them detail the soils and environment of the San Luis Obispo region, including soil maps of well-known vineyards in both the eastern and western areas of the Paso Robles AVA. Dr. Rice also works as a private consultant with major international projects.
The much admired and leading earth scientist of the Central Coast of California wrote the essential vineyard and viticultural book about the Central Coast and Paso Robles: Paso Robles: An American Terroir.
Long before the random rock on the road
Marian and Gary Conway, a couple with illustrious backgrounds, purchased a 19th Century homesteaded 320-acre ranch far enough away from L.A. to meet their ideal second-home expectations. The decision to buy was made moments after a helicopter crash-landing on the property where Gary barely survived. The magnificent land was seven miles from the seacoast art colony of Cambria, within the headlands of stunning Big Sur country, and nestled in the exclusive hills of West Paso Robles.
More than a decade after the purchase, the Conways sold half of their ranch to Justin Baldwin, at that point a banker in Century City, who was looking for supreme land for elite wine. Ultimately the 160-acres Justin purchased is now owned by the most economically savvy, if not visionary, group in California agriculture, the Resnicks (Palm Wonderful, Fiji Water, etc.).
This pristine land lies prominently in the science-defined Premium Wine Growing Area of the United States and the only region that is now distinguished as a remaining Mediterranean Climate area. Napa, Sonoma, and the former Mediterranean countries lie outside the classic Mediterranean Climate zone. This startling fact is due to fast-galloping climate change evidenced in climatological catastrophes around the world and, alarmingly, in the unprecedented wildfires and floods that have ravaged Napa wine country and then other major areas of California. It is only the now exceedingly rare Mediterranean Climate that possesses the necessary criteria for premium grapes and wine, especially luxury wine, as has always been the case.
The rarest within the rare as the Carmody McKnight terrain was tectonically formed 26-million years ago by three volcanoes emerging from an inland sea. The volcano trio exists within the property lines, and the natural grape vines actually flourish in the magma.
There is no other vineyard property on which volcanoes can be found. The natural, classic wines difficult to duplicate on any viticultural or oenological level and certainly in the nutrient power of the soils which end up in the glorious, unmanipulated and most health-nurturing wines.
As the initial inimitable attributes began to come to light, this vineyard was chosen as the only vineyard and winery in the world to be the subject of an extraordinary joint study between the State of California, John Deere Global Ag. Services, Motorola, Inc., Earth Technologies, Inc., and Cal Poly University Earth & Soil Sciences, Food Science, Nutrition and Statistical Departments.
These decades long seminal studies concentrated on the vast array of natural, complex soils never seen in such combinations and the detoxifying, most nutrient powerful soil — super calcium montmorillonite — existing nowhere else on the planet. The research lead to the essential connection between nutrients, flavors, and human health, information that everyone must take heed!
As Professor Rice confirms, it is a phenomenon that the vineyard never required fertilization of the soils during its 35-plus years. In addition, under no circumstances have fungicides, pernicious and carcinogenic, ever been applied in the vineyard’s history. There is a grand array of viticultural phenomena.
The highly-awarded Carmody McKnight Estate Wines are difficult to duplicate on any viticultural or oenological level and certainly in the nutrient power of the soils from which the estate wine derives. For the greatest of luxury wines, the entire environment must come into play to ensure that the winemaking is unmanipulated and not chemical dependent.
The Conways never added a chemical to their estate wines… and no artificial flavors and color. Almost all wines made today cannot get close to that statement, and in recent studies by highly respected consumer agencies the majority of wines are proven to be toxic, a fact which is desperately being obfuscated. When finally and fully revealed this will cause the biggest earthquake to ever hit the wine world.
There is so much more to this fascinating story which will be a revelation for all on many levels. And by the way, just the first couple of decades of this saga became a best-selling, best reviewed book, “Art of the Vineyard.” The next chapters will be epoch-making.