The story of

Bennett Valley

Bennett Valley’s location gives it a climate that is unique in Sonoma County – and probably the entire west coast. Situated directly west of the Santa Rosa plain, Bennett Valley sits in the path of the mass of cool marine air moving from the Pacific inland to replace rising warm air.

The Crane Canyon Gap, a low saddle between Mt Taylor and Sonoma Mountain, allows that cool, marine air to enter Bennett Valley, keeping Benentt Valley cool on warm summer days and moderating the maximum temperature. Most days the fogs starts about 4:30 to 5pm and stays until 10:30 or 11 the following morning. As cool as most of the cooler areas of Green Valley (Russian River), harvests in Bennett Valley are mostly in October for all varieties – Red and White.

The engine that drives most of Northern California’s climate are its interior valleys, the Central Valley being by far the biggest. As the summer sun heats an interior valley, the rising warm creates an area of low pressure drawing in cooler air from the Pacific. This ‘drawing in’ of cool air from the Pacific creates cool temperatures (and fog) everywhere the wind flows.

The three mountains that ring Bennett Valley – Mt Taylor, Bennett Peak and Sonoma Mountain – are all dormant volcanoes and the evidence of their violent past is clear to see for anyone willing to look. The most obvious from almost anywhere in Bennett Valley, and yet the most overlooked, are the 4 large ‘humps’ on the southern flank of Bennett Peak. They are the remains of cinder cones.

Most of Bennett Valley is classified as benchland. Uplifted volcanic soils of ash turned into clay by millennia of time and basalt rock spewn from the volcanoes. The valley floor is a sandy loam.

The majority of the rock in Bennett Valley is volcanic basalt. It has a variety of forms from solid grey rock to much more porous forms that look a lot like pumice. And over most of Bennett Valley there is a lot of it. We removed 4,000 yards of rock to prepare Dry Stack Vineyard. A pile approximately the size of our house. We used the rocks to build ‘dry stack’ rock walls to protect that oak trees that live among the vineyard. Those rock walls gave Grey Stack Cellars its name.

Soil

Bennett Valley’s rich soil encompasses the distinguished taste of the wine.

Climate

Bennett Valley’s location gives it a climate that is unique in Sonoma County – and probably the entire west coast.

Grapes

Bennett Valley’s unique climate, soils and history grow wine grapes of equally unique character and intensity.

Vineyard

Dry Stack Vineyard, the vineyard for our Sauvignon Blanc, sits at an elevation of 550′ on the eastern slope of Mt Taylor. The majority of the vineyard sits on a bench. The rest of the vineyard occupies the slope as that bench falls away to Matanzas Creek which forms Dry Stack’s eastern boundary.

Valley

Bennett Valley is located in the heart of Sonoma County just southeast of Santa Rosa in a minor mountain range sometimes called The Sonoma Mountain Range and sometimes called Los Gulicos Range.  Its location directly west of the Santa Rosa plain gives Bennett Valley a unique, cool, climate heavily influenced by the Pacific

Bennett Valley

The Location

Dry Stack Vineyard, the vineyard for our Sauvignon Blanc, sits at an elevation of 550′ on the eastern slope of Mt Taylor. The majority of the vineyard sits on a bench. The rest of the vineyard occupies the slope as that bench falls away to Matanzas Creek which forms Dry Stack’s eastern boundary.Dry Stack is a very cool vineyard site. We harvest our Sauvignon Blanc the first week in October, a full month after most Sauvignon Blanc has been harvested in Sonoma County.

Four Brothers Ranch belongs to the parents of our partner and winemaker, Pat Sullivan. It sits on the eastern edge of Bennett Valley, on a bench similar to Dry Stack’s, with the beginning of the North Fork of Matanzas Creek on its northern boundary. Four Brothers is arguably the warmest of our vineyards in Bennett Valley. From them we get Pinot and Chardonnay as well as a little Grenache on occasion.

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