"The Pastures of Heaven"
Corral de Tierra is located in the Monterey County American Viticulture Area (AVA), set between the Santa Lucia Highlands and Carmel Valley. The vineyard is located off Corral de Tierra Road in the rolling hills to the south of Highway 68 between Monterey and Salinas, California. The canyon in Corral de Tierra comes down to a very narrow area where the creek drains through. During the Mexican Ranch era in the 1800’s, the rancheros used the steep sides of the canyon and built a large earthen damn to hold in the cattle and collect water. This created a corral of earth and, although no trace of the wall remains today, the name prevails. In 1932, John Steinbeck wrote about this area in his book entitled The Pastures of Heaven, saying “Holy Mother, here are the green Pastures of Heaven to which our lord leadeth us…” De Tierra Vineyard is the only commercial vineyard in this area. The De Tierra property includes a south facing bowl with a 6-8 degree slope and its own micro-climate. In 1997, the Russells, with the help of close friend Lucio Gomiero (a vintner from the Veneto region of Italy), set about clearing the area of its sage brush cover by hand, preparing the ground by adding compost, gypsum and lime while doing the initial cultivation, and then adding a soy bean extract for nitrogen. Because this little valley had a combination of very loamy soils with some Monterey shale and high organic matter content, they selected a very non-aggressive root-stock so that it would not push the vines. The south facing bowl was small, so they chose a very intense planting program of 7-foot wide rows and a plant every 3 and one half feet. The planting was finished in mid-1997 and the 2001 Merlot was the first vintage produced from these grapes. Today De Tierra handcrafts award winning using our organically grown estate grapes.