David Girard's weathered granite vineyards are located near the top of Gold Hill, which rises directly out of a canyon from the American River near Coloma, CA. Soils are from the "Auberry" series, which means that the parent material is decomposed igneous rock on rolling hills. The texture can be rocky, as seen in our Grenache block to the right; sandy, the majority of the vineyard; or clayey, which is the less-well-drained soil in flat areas. Pronounced diurnal winds all summer long blow warm air from the Central Valley during the day, and cooling mountain breezes down the canyon at night. These temperature swings help the vines to fully ripen grapes with balanced, intense flavors.
Except for 6 acres of the original Merlot and a few rows of Malbec, we grow grapes that have a home in the greater Rhone Valley in France. These include the well-known Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, as well as Counoise, a spicy, secret-ingredient in much Chateauneuf-du-Pape. White grapes that we grow include Roussanne, Viognier, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, and Vermentino (known in Provence as "Rolle"); the latter two pick up an exceptional minerality from our granite terroir.
Planted acreage totals around 36, out of 85 total acres on the Estate, all originally planted and tended by Ron Mansfield and his dedicated crew. Topography is a major factor in the Sierra Foothills, and creates different climate pockets within small areas depending on sunlight exposure. With this in mind, we have our sun-loving Grenache and Mourvedre on south-facing slopes, cooler-climate Syrah facing east to bring out its spiciness, and the more delicate white grapes mostly facing north. The non-planted areas provide habitat for much wildlife, and we have a delightful walking tour which educates guests on the history and ecology of the property.
Our vineyards have always been farmed gently and with respect for our surroundings, but beginning in 2014, Grayson brought his knowledge of organic farming to the vineyard and we have undertaken a transition to even more sustainable techniques. The first enriching cover crop was planted (and sowed under with a spring-harrow, left) in early November and consists of peas, bell-beans, vetch and other Nitrogen-fixing plants. In addition, we plan to abandon synthetic/systemic fungicides next growing season and rely only on sulphur and natural oil to prevent mildew infections. We have never used pesticides, but we are still looking for alternatives to herbicides: our hilly, sometimes rocky terrain makes manual weed suppression difficult. We are looking forward to keeping everyone posted on the evolution of our move toward organic farming at the vineyard!
The Surrounding Area
David Girard Vineyards is in the heart of California’s famed historic Gold Country near Coloma, a town as rich in history as it is in things to do. DGV shares a border with the historic Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony site, the first Japanese settlement in the United States. Read more about the Wakamatsu Colony on our website here, and please visit Coloma's website.
Mt. Murphy, to the right, rises to 1850' right out of the South Fork of the American River and features a picturesque poppy-filled hillside on its lower slope during late Spring. The South Fork is world famous for boating, and is the only Sierra river where hydro-electric releases coincide with a recreational schedule, so there's water all summer long! Numerous beaches line the river and provide a great place for a picnic with a bottle of DGV wine.
Agricultural pursuits are numerous throughout the region, with South Fork Farm at the top of Gold Hill providing organic produce and fresh bread for locals and visitors. Many local orchards thrive on our well-drained soils as well, and sell their goods at roadside stands and the Coloma Farmer's Market.