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Toyon Farm

"A Young Giant"
Napa-Carneros
Ed and Camille Penhoet, Owners
Pinot Noir (Swan, 115) and Chardonnay (Wente)

The Toyon Farm includes a working horse farm on the top of a hill, from which you can see the Bay on a clear day. The Penhoet's planted the southwest face of the hillside to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. (The bottomlands below are planted to Pinot Noir for one other winery.) As you stand at the top of the hill the vineyards stretch out below in a fanned pattern. On the left is a block of Old Wente Chardonnay. In the middle is a block of Swan selection Pinot Noir, and to the right is a wedge-shaped block of Dijon 115 Pinot Noir.

Carneros is a fairly large appellation, with rolling terrain yielding a variety of aspects and soil types. It is difficult and not exactly fair to generalize too much about a "Carneros" style. It is known for being a cool climate, and that is true. In fact, in some years, Carneros actually recorders cooler average temperatures than the Willamette Valley in Oregon. The coolness is due to its close proximity to the San Pablo Bay, which is the northern extension of the San Francisco Bay. Morning fog is common, cooling the grapes and slowing photosynthesis and the developing ripeness.

The soils below are rich, red, alluvial clays. The soil is shallow, going to a depth of about 2-3 feet, below which is a hardpan sandstone that the vines cannot penetrate intermixed with shale. This limits vigor, making the vines spread their roots outward where they compete for limited nutrients and water. The resultant wines are ripe and aromatic, with deep and long flavors on the palate.