West County Dirt
Many believe that the soil is the most basic contributor to terroir, or the sense of place of a wine. Personally, I agree that it impacts the specific flavor and aroma characteristics significantly, in sometimes mysterious ways. Check out this picture of the much-lauded Sebastopol Sandy Loam soil series in one of the Dutton family’s ranches in Sebastopol. At the surface, it is very close to what you would find at a beach, plus a decent amount of organic material. Going down, it becomes more compact and eventually becomes a loose sandstone. In my mind, what makes this stuff special is how it holds water. That is to say, it doesn’t hold excessive amounts of water, which would spur excessive vegetative growth in vines, and put them out of balance. This stuff, plus the ocean-influenced foggy climate, equals a great terroir.