The perfect convergence of climate and geology: Moniker Single Vineyard Chardonnay
is millennia in the making.
Through Centuries of Experience, winemakers have come to recognize that great wines come from vines that are precisely matched to the convergence of geography, climate, and soil that make up a single vineyard site. Single vineyard wines are inherently unique in comparison to wines sourced from multiple vineyards, just as they are constrained in volume by the size of the vineyard: resulting in a small production made with great care and attention to detail.
Moniker La Ribera Single Vineyard Chardonnay is a limited-release Chardonnay like no other: reflecting the unique, ideally situated land on which the grapes are grown and the thoughtful, refined care given to the grapes from vineyard to bottle.
In the late 1990s, our dream was to bring our far-flung family together in one beautiful place we could call home. After years of searching, we decided Mendocino County, California was that special place, and in 2002 we moved to La Ribera, a benchland vineyard in the heart of the Ukiah Valley.
At the head of the family, Tommy Thornhill Jr., a retired businessman, and Ann Thornhill, an educator, moved from Texas to rejoin sons Tom and Tim and their families. Both enjoy time as great-grandparents, and Ann works with our local elementary schools, designing programs to assist academically challenged students.
“We were looking for a community in which we could make a positive impact and bring our family together,” says Tom Thornhill, Moniker Chief Executive Officer, who first came to California in 1975 to attend the graduate school of business at Stanford University and subsequently became a respected financial professional. “We found our home in Ukiah Valley.” His son, Chase, joins him as Moniker’s marketing director.
Moniker Chief Operating Officer Tim Thornhill couldn’t agree more. “Whether supporting local sports teams or teaching school kids about organic farming, we hold the people who live and work alongside us in the highest regard, an extension of our family.” Tim brings his experience as a noted arborist, horticulturist and landscaper to the day-to-day operations of our vineyards and winery, later purchased in 2004.
The Russian River is what puts La Ribera on the map. Translated from the Spanish words for “the riverbank”, La Ribera vineyard is bordered by 1.5 miles of the Russian River to the west, Morrison Creek to the north, and The Creek With No Name to the south. The benefits of the surrounding waterways are twofold. The reliable water supply insures the vines against stress throughout the growing season. During the summer, the Russian River functions as a moderating ‘heat sink’ for Mendocino County’s hot daytime temperatures, preserving the grape’s natural acidity.
The base rock underlying La Ribera is primarily shale from the Mayacamas Mountain Range. Fast-draining Pinole topsoil-known for its unique balance between sand, gravel, and a light, surface-based clay-comes from the nearby waterways: a great medium for the grapes to be grown in, leading to bright and very aromatic fruit.
With warmer daytime temperatures in the summer and cooler winters overall, La Ribera tends to be one of the earliest vineyards in southern Ukiah Valley to mature for harvest. The funnel-like narrowing between adjacent mountains focuses wind speed from off the river, increasing airflow in the vines.
Located along the sandy banks of the Russian River, Block 11b features Dijon clone 76 on 110R rootstock: a combination that thrives on soil with less organic matter and which fosters smaller, earlier-ripening berries to help avoid late season rain. Dijon clone 76 is characterized by bright flavors with good acidity and balance. Up the riverbank, the richer soil type of Block 20 is planted with clone 4 on 110R rootstock: a classic Chardonnay choice, yielding fruit with a slightly later ripening date and more concentrated flavors and aromas.
All of the vines are planted on a Lyre trellis system for maximum fruit distribution and the best flavor development. Lyre trellising separates the fruit and keeps the canopy up allowing for ideal aeration and light exposure to the fruit, ideal for the riverside soil type and climate of La Ribera Vineyard.