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Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Monte Rosso Vineyard

One of Sonoma Valley's more historic vineyards is Monte Rosso. It falls in the Sonoma Valley appellation (wine-growing area), but is actually not in the valley. Monte Rosso vineyard lies between Sonoma and Napa Counties in the Mayacamas Mountains.

Monte Rosso Vineyard sits above the valley floor
about 15 miles from the cooling waters of the San Pablo Bay
Image from


The vineyard goes back to 1880 with a few blocks from the 1890s still bearing fruit. Famed Napa Valley wine pioneer Louis Martini purchased the vineyard in the 1930s and named it Monte Rosso (Red Mountain) after its red soils.

In 2002 Gallo purchased the Louis Martini Winery and now owns Monte Rosso Vineyard.

The Vineyard

Monte Rosso ranges in elevation from about 700 to 1300 feet. The soils are volcanic with lots of iron and are very well-drained so the vines must go deep to find water. The vineyard is high enough to usually be above the valley's fog, but gets cooling breezes off the nearby bay. The combination of mountain soils, the cool breezes, elevation, and good sun exposure give Monte Rosso its uniqueness.

There are about 250 acres of mostly Zinfandel and Cabernet planted along with everything from Semillon to Sangiovese.

The Wines

"Concentrated, rich and silky" are words used often to describe Monte Rosso Cabernets; the Zinfandels are intense and full-bodied.

Louis Martini Winery has made their flagship Monte Rosso Cabernet from the vineyard for decades. Others getting fruit from here include Arrowood, Paradise Ridge, Rancho Zabaco (a Gallo label), Rosenblum, Sbragia, and Stryker plus quite a few more.