Icaria Creek Vineyard is located at the Northern tip of Sonoma County. Wayne and Barbara Smith purchased the Cloverdale property in 1989 and developed the vineyard with the help of their son, Rick Smith, Vineyard Manager. Icaria Vineyards is within the Alexander Valley appellation, which lies one and a half hours north of San Francisco. Our micro-appellation is what we call the Asti Foothills, situated about 400 feet above sea level.
The vineyard estate is a fifty acre piece with twenty-six acres planted to Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec.
The Cabernet Sauvignon was planted in 1989. We used clone #4 on AXR rootstock. Clone #4 is a moderately producing clone on top of AXR, which is an aggressive rootstock. The pairing of these two on lean hillside ground has given us some beautiful wines.
We are also working with the Cabernet clone #337 on #4453 rootstock. This clone produces a longer, looser cluster, which helps in both color and tannin development.
The Cabernet Sauvignon has been planted to three different soil types:
The Rocky Knoll is a very rugged, lean soil type. The clone 4 planted there has a tough time on this soil. The fruit that comes off of there is not what I would call “big” at all. The color is light. The fruit is cherry. The tannins are quite sharp and austere. This soil type expresses beautiful mineral notes inherent to the bouquet.
The Red Loamy Clay faces west on our property, which means it gets an immense amount of afternoon sun. This block is intensely fruit forward, with cherry at the forefront. The block consistently possesses hint of earth and leather, backed by tannins that are soft and round. This is the fruit, along with trace amounts of Petite Verdot and Malbec, that we use to create the backbone of the wine.
The third block is an amalgam of the first two soil types. It has the mineral aspect in the bouquet; yet the fruit and color spectrums are very solid, and the tannins are still quite soft and round. This soil types’ best quality is that the peak maturity, the fruit component is bright, fresh, and clean. Usually the red loamy clay has a more jammy preserve quality, which is not the style that we want to predominate in the bouquet or the palate.
The Merlot is planted on two different soil types:
Loamy Gravel is where sixty percent of our Merlot is grown. This soil type has very little clay content, which in turn creates an ultra soft tannin wine. The fruit is classically plum, with a very refined core of earthiness.
Red Loamy Clay has two acres planted to Merlot. The fruit that comes out of this block is more heavy handed. Dense plum, green tea, and earth all backed by a slightly more rigid core of tannins.
Petit Verdot and Malbec:
How does one create a solid core of tannins? Tannins that hit you in the front, middle, and back of the palate? Both petite Verdot and Malbec possess intense tannin structure, along with inky black color. Two elements that are essential for a vineyard designate red wine. The Petite Verdot also gives the wine a unique floral aspect to the bouquet. Hints of violet or rose are the predominate floral characteristics of Petite Verdot.
When the property was purchased by the family in 1989, it came with ten acres of Chardonnay that was planted by the previous owner in 1979. This block of Chardonnay truly lies on the Alexander Valley floor. It has very deep rich soil for the vines to explore. The fruit is soft and luscious. Its’ loads of fruit and silky texture make it a perfect apéritif.
This is Icaria Estate Vineyards!