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Gary Farrell Footnotes ... A Blog Preserving our past. Penning our future. Join us here for more to our story.

Published on Wednesday, May 11, 2016

It Isn’t Just Dirt: An Exploration of Soil Types in Sonoma County

Learn About Gary Farrell Winery's Vineyard Sources & Soil Types

Gary Farrell Pinot Noir Punchdown [IMG]

One of the most important distinguishing factors of Sonoma County is the diversity of its soil types. In fact, there is a greater variety of soil in Sonoma County than in all of Western Europe. These 259 different soil types lend distinct characteristics to the vineyards by providing their own conditions of texture, structure, and nutrients, and thus creating specialized growing sites for different varietals. A trip through Sonoma County from west to east is a geological journey through several different geological worlds. 

The San Andreas Fault, which runs directly along the edge of Sonoma County, is a collision point for the tectonic plates long the earth’s crust. As the earth’s crust ruptured, the tectonic plates shifted alongside each other and underneath each other. These movements created a dramatic uplift of the ocean’s floor; draining inland seas, building mountain ranges, and creating different soil types. Granite, which is a type of igneous rock, originated when magma (molten rock) deep in the earth cooled 100 million years ago. This granite was formed at least 345 miles south and was moved north along the San Andreas Fault by tectonic movement over the last 29 million years to its present position. Rocks west of the fault are those ancient granites with overlying sand and gravel and east of the fault is a rich variety of rock types, representing a complicated geological history, resulting in a high diversity of soils.

Soil is defined by soil scientists as earth surface material that has been so modified or acted upon by physical, chemical, or biological agents that it supports plant life. Characteristics such as depth, compressive strength, density, expansion potential, corrosivity, permeability, ability to hold water, and fertility vary widely from place to place. Because there are so many unique soil types within Sonoma County, they are classified into 15 major soil associations to facilitate evaluation. Each soil association is typically correlated to a particular geographic area. There are five soil associations found in basins, tidal flats, flood plains, terraces, and alluvial fans. The remaining ten soil associations are characteristic of high terraces, foothills, uplands, and mountains. Soil associations are divided into broad groups based upon color and texture. These groups illustrate the general pattern of soil occurrence in Sonoma County.


GARY FARRELL WINERY'S VINEYARD SOURCES (in alphabetical order) & SOIL TYPES:

ALLEN VINEYARD, Russian River Valley
Producing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
Arbuckle: light to dark yellowish-brown, very deep, well drained, gravelly, loamy, soils that formed in alluvial materials from mainly conglomerate and metasedimentary rocks.
Yorkville: light to very dark grayish-brown, very deep, well drained soils that formed in material weathered from chloritic schist and other sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.
Laughlin: very dark grayish-brown to yellowish-brown, fine-loamy, mixed, mesic family.

BACIGALUPI VINEYARD, Russian River Valley
Producing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
Arbuckle: light to dark yellowish-brown, very deep, well drained, gravelly, loamy, soils that formed in alluvial materials from mainly conglomerate and metasedimentary rocks.

DURELL VINEYARD, Sonoma Valley
Producing Chardonnay 
Goulding: brown to dark brown, shallow, somewhat excessively drained, cobbly clay, loamy soils formed in material weathered from metavolcanic or metasedimentary rocks.

GAP’S CROWN VINEYARD, Sonoma Coast
Producing Pinot Noir
Goulding: brown to dark brown, shallow, somewhat excessively drained, cobbly clay, loamy soils formed in material weathered from metavolcanic or metasedimentary rocks.
Toomes: brown to dark reddish-brown, very shallow and shallow, well to somewhat excessively drained soils formed in material weathered from tuff breccia, basalt and andesite.

GRIST VINEYARD, Dry Creek Valley
Producing Zinfandel
Boomer: yellowish-red to dark brown, deep and very deep, well drained soils that formed in material weathered from metavolcanic rock. Stonyford: brown to dark reddish-brown, shallow, somewhat excessively drained soils formed in material weathered from basic igneous rocks and related tuff breccia.

HALLBERG VINEYARD, Green Valley, Russian River Valley
Producing Pinot Noir
Goldridge: pale yellow and pale brown to light brownish-gray, deep and very deep, moderately well drained, fine, sandy, loamy soils formed in material weathered from weakly consolidated sandstone.

MAFFEI VINEYARD, Russian River Valley
Producing Zinfandel
Huichica: grayish brown to pale brown, dry, and very dark grayish brown to dark brown, fine sandy loam to silty loam soils formed in sedimentary marine terraces and uplands.

OLIVET LANE VINEYARD, Russian River Valley
Producing Chardonnay  
Huichica: grayish brown to pale brown, dry, and very dark grayish brown to dark brown, fine sandy loam to silty loam soils formed in sedimentary marine terraces and uplands.

ROCHIOLI VINEYARD, Russian River Valley
Producing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
Alluvial: fine-grained, fertile soil deposited by water flowing over flood plains or in river beds.
Pajaro: somewhat poorly drained, nearly level to gently sloping fine sand loams to clay loams on low terraces and flood plains, formed from alluvium derived from sedimentary rock.
Yolo: grayish-brown, fine-silty, mixed, nonacid, thermic family of Mollic Xerofluvents.

TOBONI VINEYARD, Russian River Valley
Producing Pinot Noir
Huichica: grayish brown to pale brown, dry, and very dark grayish brown to dark brown, fine sandy loam to silty loam soils formed in sedimentary marine terraces and uplands.

WESTSIDE FARMS, Russian River Valley
Producing Chardonnay  
Yolo
: grayish-brown, fine-silty, mixed, nonacid, thermic family of Mollic Xerofluvents.

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