"Growing up all my life working lettuce, broccoli, bean, and pepper fields, it was just natural for Dad and me to call our grapes the grapefields. What can I say...the name stuck.” Joe Alarid, Grower. The expansive mosaic of agriculture in the valley that lies just beneath the Santa Lucia Highlands is magnificent, but we certainly are glad that some of the talented growers with roots in the valley decided to plant vineyards higher up. With nearly a century of farming between Joe and his father in what's now the heart of the Santa Lucia Highlands, Tondre Grapefield is an exemplar of praxis and provenance in growing outstanding Pinot Noir.
Tondre Grapefield was first planted in 1997. At an elevation of 200 feet, the vineyard consists of varied terrain, predominantly sloping to the southeast, split between the eastern and western sides of River Road. Tondre Grapefield is hardly a mile to the south of Kirk Williams Ranch, but the vineyards have distinctly different profiles while maintaining a certain typicity for the area. Tondre Grapefield generally reflects more of the characteristics found in the southern half of the highlands, ripening a bit earlier and exhibiting profoundly savory elements encompassed by especially dark and seductive fruit. Its soil is decomposed granite, gravel, and sandy loam. As is typical for the Santa Lucia Highlands, fog and wind from the Monterey Bay often offer cooling in the mornings and late afternoons, respectively.
Tondre Grapefield contains many diverse blocks of Pinot Noir. We produce from the two we consider the best: a tiny hillside of 667 and the same block of Pommard 4 that Joe devotes to his own wine. Given the proximity of Tondre Grapefield with Kirk Williams Ranch and the similar clonal composition we harvest from each, comparisons between these two vineyards each year are as tantalizing as they are wondrous. Much like the small vineyards of Burgundy, where just a turn here or there on the hillside defines a wine, we treasure how both of these vineyards speak to their unique place. We usually harvest this vineyard around late September.