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Iconic Laurel Glen Vineyard Receives Organic Certification, Releases First Wine under New Team

Randal Watkins, Winemaker, Laurel Glen Vineyards, Sonoma Mountain

Glen Ellen, Calif.—The historic Laurel Glen Vineyard, 1,000 feet up on Sonoma Mountain, has received organic certification from California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), three years after wine industry veteran Bettina Sichel, backed by a group of wine lovers, purchased the vineyard, winery and brands from Patrick Campbell in 2011. The 2011 Laurel Glen Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, released this month, was awarded 95 points by Wine and Spirits Magazine and is the first vintage from organically farmed fruit produced from start to finish by the new team.  

“The changes we’ve made to farming and winemaking have already made a significant impact on the health of the vineyard and the quality of the wines,” says Sichel. “Organic farming is an important step to preserving the legacy of this historic vineyard and refining 30 years of Laurel Glen wines in the bottle.”

Viticulturist Phil Coturri initiated the transition to organic farming in March of 2011, a process that he called “easy” because of the minimal chemical inputs Campbell had used over his 30-year tenure. Coturri developed a comprehensive schedule of cover crops to provide organic nutrients and implemented new trellising and pruning practices to improve consistency and quality.

Originally planted in the 1880s to mixed red varieties, Laurel Glen Vineyard is considered one of the iconic Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards of California. The vineyard was first planted to Cabernet Sauvignon in 1968. Campbell purchased the property 1977 and planted additional acres over the next two decades, taking cuttings from the original Cabernet vines. 

Today, the 15-acre vineyard is primarily planted to the “Laurel Glen Clone,” a genetically unique clone of Cabernet Sauvignon recognized by UC Davis.  A single row of the gnarled old vines dating back to the 1880s still remain on the property.

Winemaker Randall Watkins and consulting enologist David Ramey also initiated changes to the winemaking process in 2011, implementing cluster and berry sorting to increase opulence and polish.

About Laurel Glen Vineyard

Laurel Glen Vineyard, a thousand feet up the slopes of Sonoma Mountain, has long been considered one of the iconic Cabernet vineyards of California. Originally planted in the 1880’s, the present-day vineyard was developed in the 1970’s by Sonoma wine pioneer Patrick Campbell. The 1st vintage of Laurel Glen Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon was made in 1981. The vineyard’s combination of high altitude, eastern exposure, rocky soils, and small diurnal temperature swings combine to produce very distinctive wines. Despite its small production, the wine has received international acclaim for its exceptional balance, elegance and ability to age gracefully.

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