All grapevines are a grafted combination of plants- a specific wine-grape variety above ground, and a complementary rootstock below. Although unseen, that which happens below the soil's surface is equally as important as that above. At Chalk Hill, over a period of many years and many growing trials, we have strived to pair our rootstock with the profile and potential of the soil in a particular site. At its simplest, you must match the vigor of the rootstock to the inverse of the vigor of the soil. To keep vines in perfect balance the vigorous soils need to be tamed and Spartan soils need to be coaxed. That said, the grape variety grafted to the rootstock also needs to match the site, and not just the correct variety, but the even more specific clonal selection.
Chalk Hill, under the watchful eye of Mark Lingenfelder, has conducted one of the largest and longest maintained Chardonnay clonal trials in California. In addition to exploring the best site/clone growing combination, we are experimenting with different clonal selections in the quest for additional nuance and complexity in the wines. Each clone delivers grapes with different and unique flavor profiles. To demonstrate this, selected clones are bottled separately in certain vintages for a specially boxed Chalk Hill Clonal Collection.