Marking the culmination of five years of work developing and planting a virgin site in the Sonoma Coast’s acclaimed Petaluma Gap AVA, MacRostie Winery and Vineyards is excited to unveil its new Nightwing Estate Vineyard. The cool-climate vineyard is located at the mountainous eastern edge of the Petaluma Gap AVA and features some of the highest planted elevations in the region, reaching heights of 1,300 feet. Nightwing Vineyard was developed in 2017 and planted the following year as a mosaic of 35 blocks featuring 44 acres of Pinot Noir and 30 acres of Chardonnay. To coincide with the unveiling of the winery’s new estate vineyard, MacRostie is proud to announce the release of its debut 2020 Nightwing Vineyard Chardonnay.
MacRostie Winemaker Heidi Bridenhagen and Founder Steve MacRostie first viewed the property in 2017 and immediately recognized its potential to produce world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Working in partnership with Atlas Vineyard Management (AVM), which has been farming both the nearby Gap’s Crown Vineyard and Sunchase Vineyard (which is contiguous to Nightwing) for the past decade, Bridenhagen and MacRostie oversaw the design of the site, which features numerous elevations, exposures and soil compositions. They also personally selected Nightwing’s nine clones of Pinot Noir, nine clones of Chardonnay and seven rootstocks, with the Pinot Noir largely planted above the fog line, and the Chardonnay predominantly established at lower elevations where it benefits from the cooling influence of the region’s clockwork fog.
“Working with Steve [MacRostie] and the AVM team to establish Nightwing Vineyard has been one of the proudest accomplishments of my career,” says Heidi. “We have been partnering with vineyards in the Petaluma Gap since long before it became an official AVA in 2017. It is an incredible region for creating the kinds of Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that inspire us, and have long defined MacRostie. To be able to sculpt this stunning site from the ground up was a remarkable opportunity to apply everything that we have learned about cool-climate viticulture at MacRostie over the past 35 years.”
The inaugural 2020 MacRostie Nightwing Vineyard Chardonnay is the first wine to be made from grapes grown on the property and is currently only available to wine club members and by direct purchase through the winery. Moving forward, MacRostie will be producing a Nightwing Vineyard Pinot Noir, and will also be using fruit from the estate in its acclaimed Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and Chardonnay bottlings, as well as other potential wines.
The name Nightwing was chosen as a nod to the Petaluma Gap’s many indigenous birds, including the Night Heron, and to honor Vernon Morelli, the land’s owner, and a WWII pilot who built a landing strip on the site. While Morelli retains ownership of the land, MacRostie has complete control of the property and Nightwing Vineyard under a long-term lease that extends to 2052.
“The past decade has been an incredibly exciting and dynamic period at MacRostie,” says Brand Director Don Davis. “We’ve grown our vineyard program beyond its historic roots in Carneros to include some of California’s most acclaimed vineyards, built our MacRostie Estate House in the Russian River Valley and made it into one of the premier hospitality and tasting venues in the region, founded our Thale’s Estate Vineyard, and expanded our portfolio of wines from just a handful to upwards of 30, with most being less than 500 cases. Now, with Nightwing Vineyard, we are helping to pioneer what we believe will be one of California’s premier AVAs, while ensuring that we will have extraordinary grapes to work with for decades to come.”