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The underlying philosophy at Etude Wines is that winemaking begins in the vineyard, months and even years before the grapes are harvested. The Etude winemaking team – Tony Soter, Jon Priest and Franci Ashton – believes that inspired grape growing diminishes the need for intervention by the winemaker, the end result being superior wines that are grown, not made. Hence, the concept of winegrowing. Collectively these people apply more than 50 years of experience in the quest to extract and evoke the most from the plants they tend in the places they grow, while at the same time treading lightly on the environment.

Etude Estate Vineyard

Tucked away in the far northwest corner of the esteemed Carneros Appellation is a rambling tract of grazing land that is bisected by the Rodgers Creek Fault Line at the southern toe of Sonoma Mountain. Unlike customary Carneros acreage, which is largely uplifted bay bottoms with soils composed of clay, the soils on the Etude Estate site are variations of volcanic origin. They are well drained, rocky upland soils. Combining these soils with the extreme western location closer to the Pacific Ocean makes this site a decidedly distinct destination (if not entirely atypical for Carneros).

Unlike many vineyards that are planted in grids that maximize efficiency, the blocks for Etude’s Estate Vineyard were customized to conform to the various soil types and the changing contours of the topography. Individual vineyard blocks average only 8 acres in size. The spacing is dense to ensure low per vine yields of fully concentrated fruit.

Mindful of their roles as stewards of this special property, the Etude team adheres strictly to sustainable agricultural practices that enable them to farm in concert with the surrounding environment. Native flora and naturally occurring wetlands have been protected, and creeks are being restored. Wildlife has been afforded safe passageways through the vineyards.

Nearly twenty Pinot Noir clones, including 10 preciously low yielding heirloom varieties, have been planted in Etude’s Estate Vineyard. As the grapes approach harvest, they are protected from hungry starlings by a falconer and a team of trained falcons. This novel, low impact method of crop protection is yet another example of Etude’s commitment to natural and sustainable winegrowing methods.

Already Etude’s Estate Vineyard is producing fruit that is unsurpassed in our experience. According to Tony Soter, “I am confident that the quality is so superior and distinct it will set us apart from all other Carneros sources.”



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