The perfect wine gift, a soil monolith…

[Picture of Paul Anamosa borrowed from his Vineyard Soil Technologies Website.]

It may seem a bit early to be thinking of the holidays, but wait…

I’m reminded of how I used to begin to make sweaters for family members, starting in September, so I’d have enough done in time for the holidaze. I’d knit Icelandic knits on circular needles (which meant that I didn’t have to go back and forth with rows, and I didn’t have to pearl any rows, just keep knitting like I was a machine, and the yarn was very thick.). One year I made 12 of them, between September and Christmas morning, but I didn’t keep one for myself in the process. I made a promise to myself that I’d never do that again, I kept to my word. The following year I knit 13 of them, giving one to myself…

And then I moved to California, where I couldn’t even wear it, so I stopped knitting, pretty much. I suspect that some day, I’ll also stop writing the same way, but not for now.

A soil monolith from a client’s vineyard is extracted from the client’s own soil… right on location, as authentic as it can possibly be.

Paul Anamosa is responsible for turning me onto this practice – sort of – when we accidentally met. I was searching on Goldridge soil, and I came across a quote by Dr. Paul R. Anamosa, Ph.D., of Vineyard Soils Technology. He was very helpful, by updating what I had found; and so, I decided to “Like” him on Facebook. While there, I scrolled down a bit and came across this image of an example of a soil monolith.

Eureka! I knew someone who would love having one of these… Ron Rubin of The Rubin Family Vineyards and Winery. This gentleman found gold in California when he actualized his 40 year dream of owning a vineyard and a winery. On the first day that Ron and I met in his office, he asked me if I’d follow him outside. He walked me to his vineyard. He asked me if I minded that I didn’t have the right shoes for walking in his “dirt.” I assured him that I was okay with it. He must have had something important for me to see, and I’m always curious. He walked me to a patch of bare, loose soil and picked up a handful. “Look,” he said, “it’s Goldridge soil!”

I said, “Oh, great!” and, I drove home to look it up. The only other time I found someone so enamored with dirt was Hector Bedolla, when I was working for Belvedere Winery. Hector, with the same passion, told me about the red soils of Dry Creek Valley, as we stood overlooking Bill Hambrecht’s vineyards (my boss at the time.). “Red soils have iron oxide in them,” he exclaimed. Iron oxide is known to produce the best Zinfandel grapes and then the wines, I was to later learn; just as Goldridge is know to produce the best Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.

I didn’t know “what” Ron had, but he surely did. What I’ve just come to learn is that Paul Anamosa had schooled Ron on Goldridge, when Ron was considering his new winery. Then Ron turned me onto it, and now we’re back where we started, with me thinking that I’m telling Ron about someone new. All Ron could say is, “small world.”

It was now my turn to turn Ron onto a soil monolith, which could be made of his Goldridge soil. He’s excited, and so am I.

As I was thanking Paul and telling him that his monoliths are a great idea, I took that thought to, “What a great blog story.” And, here I am sharing with you all. This may be new to you, too, and I love sharing any new aspects of the wine business that are novel.

The process is very detailed… and any winery owner would hang this one with great pleasure, I’m sure.

From Paul on how this is accomplished

We visit the winery property, and dig a hole 6 feet deep, by 3 feet wide, and about 8 feet long (a typical evaluation pit). We then smooth one side of the pit and press a frame into the side. We then dig out the soil on the other side of the frame while wrapping the frame and soil in shrink-wrap. We finally get all 5 feet of frame and soil isolated, and then bundle it, and truck it out. It goes back to our work shop where it is hardened with a non-toxic glue and then glued onto a piece of plexiglass. We have used tempered glass on the first few, but feel that with the ever present threat of earthquakes, we did not want to have glass shards flying though tasting rooms if they shattered.

Examples of monoliths that can be viewed

  • Larkmead Vineyards, in their conference room
  • Paul just delivered “an absolutely beautiful brick red one” to Continuum
  • Another delivered to ZD winery, having just been mounted during the week of September 8, 2014

Just when you thought a winery owner could have “everything” in his or her world, along come ingenuity…

You can reach Paul Anamosa at