Volcanic mountains

High altitude volcanic vineyards produce small grapes with thick skins | Local News


Likewise, Bryan Kane of Sol Rouge runs his own vineyard, which is completely covered in volcanic soil. Having worked on both Howell Mountain and Diamond Mountain, however, the elevation wasn’t new to this winemaker – he actually prefers it deep in the valley.

“We don’t have this type of silty clay like they do in the valley, so when it rains we don’t have the same issues,” he said. “Our soils drain very well, so there are no puddles [and] we don’t have the same problem with the spread of mold and mildew.

Additionally, Kane says these soils also allow the vines to sink deeper into the soil in search of water, which he says results in a more robust root system.

“It pulls a lot more from the terroir and has a larger structure, but it produces the same amount of grapes on top,” he said, explaining the biting but daring nature of high altitude grapes.

While they’ve all become experts in their own right since planting their vineyards, if you ask any of these wineries about the chemistry, geology, and soil science behind their volcanic wines, they’ll immediately bring up l esteemed author, researcher and sommelier John Szabo.

Released in 2016, Szabo’s book “Volcanic Wines: Salt, Grit and Power” describes the volcanic wine regions of the world while breaking down the science under the vines and behind the wines. In the United States, the only other region described was the Pacific Northwest, in addition to international spots like Chile, Macaronesia, Alsace and Germany, Italy, Santorini and Hungary.