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by Fred McMillin
Winery of the Week
Top Bill Chalk Hill
"Chalk Hill in Sonoma County is a classy producer of rich Chardonnay, stylish Sauvignon Blanc and lovely, berryish Cabernet Sauvignon."
...Robert Joseph's 1999 Good Wine Guide
"Chalk Hill's soil contains no chalk!"
...Our WineDay, February 9, 1998
Wait a minute. Chalk Hill without chalk?? Let's go back to the beginning.
The Rest of the Story
1974—San Francisco attorney Fred Furth buys a 650-acre ranch with an unusual layer of white soil. Before long he plants 40 acres of vines.
1980—Mark Lingenfelder is hired as vineyard manager. While winemakers will change, he will remain and provide steadily improving grape quality.
1986—Fred and Peggy Furth have started making wine labeled Donna Maria Vineyards, with a second label, Chalk Hill. This year they drop Donna, and all future labels read Chalk Hill.
1989 Vintage—The Chardonnay is attracting much attention. I give it top marks in the San Francisco Independent. The Wine Spectator gives it a resounding 90 rating.
1990 Vintage—I hold a private tasting with Master Sommelier Steve Morey of San Francisco landmark Ernie's Restaurant. He's very enthusiastic about the Chalk Hill '90 Chardonnay. He recommends pairing it with steamed sea bass brushed with mustard sauce and served in a mushroom crust. Mercy!
The Marketing Manager, Diana Burnett, wrote me about that 1990: "We knew we had a world-class wine when it sold out in eight months." She was right. I notice the 1997 got a super 92 rating by the Spectator.
Beautiful Blancs, Too
We have a Sauvignon Blanc scheduled for an upcoming blind tasting. It's almost certain to do well. Critic Bob Thompson says that nearly every vintage Chalk Hill's Sauvignon Blanc is its brightest star. So here's our...
Winery of the Week
Chalk Hill Winery
Postscript —More Chalk Talk (Pardon My Dust)
So what's the source of that white volcanic ash on Chalk Hill? Author James Halliday tells us some believe it came from once-active Mt. Saint Helena in the rival Napa Valley!
08/23/00—Runaway Horses & Other Vicissitudes
08/22/00—Wanted: A Tender Touch
08/21/00—Swing & Sway with This Roh-Zay
08/18/00—The King of Zin?
08/17/00—The New Babylonian Times
08/16/00—Take A Chance
08/15/00—Big Butter Bombs
08/14/00—Norton's Number One
08/11/00—Win with Wyndham
08/09/00—Stir the Lees, If You Please
08/08/00—A Shark Attack
08/07/00—From Spuds to Buds
08/04/00—High Noon At Continental Air
08/03/00—When Harveys Went Kablooey
08/02/00—A Beautiful Story
This page created August 2000