Russian River Valley
The Russian River Valley climate is sculpted by the regular intrusion of cooling fog from the Pacific Ocean a few miles to the west. Much like the tide, it ebbs and flows through the Petaluma Wind Gap and the channel cut by the Russian River. The fog usually arrives in the evening, often dropping the temperature 35 to 40 degrees from its daytime high. The fog retreats to the ocean the following morning. This natural air-conditioning allows the grapes to develop full flavor maturity over an extended growing season — often 15 to 20 percent longer than neighboring areas — while retaining their life-giving natural acidity.
Water flowing off of the Sonoma Mountain range carried with it eroded volcanic material, creating soils with large amounts of clay in the central portion of the appellation. Then, in what remains a major mystery to geologists, the Russian River, which once flowed south to what is now San Francisco Bay, changed course and headed west through the coastal foothills. Along its course it deposited large amounts of alluvial materials that are now river benchlands. Each of these different soils has a profound effect on wine produced from grapes grown in this soil.
Source: Russian River Valley Winegrowers
Running Creek Vineyard
The centerpiece of our Migration winegrowing program is our Running Creek Vineyard. Located on River Road, in the heart of the magnificent Russian River Valley, this spectacular Estate vineyard features 70 acres of Pinot Noir vines, and 20 acres of Chardonnay. Though originally planted in the 1980s, Running Creek Vineyard was replanted throughout the 2000s to an ideal selection of clones using state-of-the-art viticultural techniques. Featuring six clones of Pinot Noir (667, 777, 828, 115, Pommard and Calera), and four cones of Chardonnay (Wente, Hanzell, Clone 4 and Clone 96), all planted in the vineyard’s fertile Yolo loam soils, Running Creek yields a diverse array of exceptional fruit. While each clone offers something unique, they are all shaped by the clockwork morning fog that is one of the hallmarks of the Russian River Valley, cooling the vines and preserving the natural acidity that is necessary for great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. At the same time, Running Creek gets abundant sunshine, allowing the grapes to fully ripen while developing brilliant varietal flavors.
Single Vineyard Designate Wines
In our search to make compelling single-vineyard offerings, we traveled up and down the coast, visiting more than 40 of the finest cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vineyards. In the end, these sites made the cut.
Our Migration Santa Maria Valley Chardonnay – Dierberg Vineyard comes from a unique site on an exposed mesa on the southwestern side of the Santa Maria River. Within view of the Pacific Ocean, Dierberg's windswept vines are grown in sandy soils and produced a wine that is notable for its steely minerality. All of Migration's vineyard-designate Chardonnays were crafted using essentially the same winemaking techniques—a decision made to preserve the terroir-inspired character of each.
Though its Green Valley home still clearly marks Charles Heintz Vineyard as a cool-climate winegrowing location, our Migration Sonoma Coast Chardonnay – Charles Heintz Vineyard is certainly the most voluptuous and fruit-forward of our single-vineyard Chardonnays. The vineyard's older, heritage clone vines were planted in 1982, and grow at an elevation of 900 feet on the second ridge inland from the Pacific. These vines are meticulously farmed by Charlie, who drives the tractor and oversees everything, ensuring the utmost care and quality at every stage in the viticultural process.
Even though the Migration Russian River Valley Searby Vineyard come from a site that is only one mile from Charles Heintz Vineyard with the same Goldridge sandy loam soils, the location offers a completely different expression of Chardonnay. Planted in 1972, Searby’s old-vine Rued clone Chardonnay yields a sleek and racy wine with intense floral aromatics. Grown in sandy loam soils, the dry-farmed vines produce very small crops resulting in fresh and focused wines that balances citrus, passion fruit, lemon blossom and lychee notes, with crisp, elegant acidity.
Our Migration Russian River Valley Pinot Noir Dutton Ranch comes from the hillsides of Green Valley which is located in the coolest and foggiest part of the Russian River Valley. The vineyard’s ideal Goldridge soils, and a mix of elite clones, produce a complex and aromatically driven wine with bright cherry, cranberry and red raspberry layers, supported by beautiful acidity and sophisticated notes of Asian spice and earth.
The Migration Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir Bien Nacido Vineyard comes from a site that was established in 1973 and has earned a reputation as one of California’s premier vineyards. Planted in the low-vigor soils of the Santa Maria Valley, the vines face the full force of the wind and fog off the Pacific. The result is a Pinot Noir that balances richness and elegance, with blackberry and ripe strawberry flavors underscored by enlivening acidity and notes of green tea and spice.