Mark Lyon bought the 122-acre vineyard property in 1980, which was planted in the early 1970’s by Rodney Strong. The vineyards are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Chardonnay. Grapes are sold to wineries such as Sebastiani Vineyards, Château St. Jean, Ferrari-Carano, Fetzer’s Bonterra, and Benziger, with small lots reserved for Eco Terreno Wines. Today the Eco Terreno Vineyard operations are directed by Daphne Amory, an expert in biodynamic viticulture.
During the day, the Alexander Valley is one of the warmest regions in Sonoma County, but at night it experiences a wide diurnal temperature variation that cools off the vineyards. The region’s close proximity to the Russian River serves as a source for early morning fog conditions that cover the vineyard until it is burned off by the late morning sun.
Eco Terreno Vineyards has two parcels, Lyon Vineyard and Cisne Vineyard. Lyon Vineyard has Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Musqué, Sauvignon Gris, Sémillon, Merlot, Malbec, Petite Verdot, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Franc planted. The soil composition of the Alexander Valley is vast and diverse and translates directly into the complex layers of flavors of our grapes. In the Lyon Vineyard there is the gravelly/sandy loam soils (called Cortina loam) which is derived from an alluvial deposit that is comprised of millions of years of gravel and sand accumulation from the Russian River. It is this less fertile soil, comprised of the gravelly loam, yet ideally suited for growing Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec. In other blocks the sandy, slightly richer soils are more suited to Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.
In addition, some blocks in the vineyard are comprised of clay-to-clay/sandy loam soils (called Yolo Loam), which is derived from alluvial deposits from the surrounding hills. Higher clay soils are ideal for growing Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc, while moderate clay-to-sandy loam soil is better suited for growing Chardonnay and Petite Verdot.
Cisne Vineyard has Sauvignon Musqué and Cabernet Franc planted. Cisne Vineyard is comprised of two predominant soil types. First is a 6.5-acre block that is made up of mostly clay loam soil which is derived from being near the Russian River. This block was formerly planted with Chardonnay grapes; however, it’s ideally suited to a Sauvignon Blanc, creating wine with a more aromatic expression of lemon grass and tropical fruits nuances.
In addition, the vineyard is also comprised of a 7-acre block that is made up of mostly Volcanic loam which is derived from alluvial deposits from the surrounding hills. It has more iron oxide content due to some volcanic activity from the nearby hills. This adds to making riper, more distinct reds. It is a well-drained block that has moderate vigor. Cabernet Franc thrives here and can achieve early ripening with more rich fruit. Due to the well-drained nature of these volcanic soils and good sun exposure; it creates small, dense clusters and with more concentrated fruit flavors at higher (25 to 26 range) Brix standards.
At 111 planted acres in the Alexander Valley, this makes Eco Terreno Vineyards the largest, biodynamically certified, single-vineyard operation in Sonoma County. Another 4 acres will be planted over the next two years.