In 2000, Pam and George York planted several Syrah clones on the hillside beneath their home with guidance from their close friend and renowned winemaker, Scott Harvey. Since then, Casatierra Vineyard has matured into an outstanding source of Syrah from the small American Viticultural Area of Fiddletown within Amador County. This region is recognized for its exceptional Rhône varietals, especially Syrah. Casatierra Vineyard is named from the York's "Earth House" atop the hill, whose walls were constructed from earth taken from the surrounding area.
Casatierra Vineyard is situated on a south-facing hillside at an elevation of roughly 2,000 feet overlooking the historic Eschen (now Rinaldi) Vineyard in the valley below. The vineyard consists of decomposed granite and volcanic soils with several granite rock outcroppings among the vines. These shallow soils are acidic and low in fertility, which limits vigor and fosters excellent flavor development. Evening temperatures are typically a few degrees cooler than in the areas to the south. This allows the vines to ripen more slowly and develop great complexity in the fruit. It's likely that these cooler temperatures also contribute the attractive spiciness that we see in the wines. In our rosé, this often manifests itself as notes of citrus zest.
Prior to the formation of Coterie Cellars, we experimented with the 174, 300, 383, and 877 clones of Syrah from various blocks throughout the vineyard. Today, we produce wines from this vineyard that focus on the 877 clone, which we harvest by hand from the top of the vineyard's hillside. Other parts of the vineyard are planted with the 99, 470, and Hermitage clones, which we may explore as well in the future. We usually harvest this vineyard sometime around the middle of September.