In the mid 1990’s Tom and Carol Russell began looking for the perfect property; good for building an artisan winery as well as a home. They found the answer in Corral de Tierra. The Corral de Tierra area is located on the Monterey Peninsula in central California between the Santa Lucia Highlands and Carmel Valley in Monterey County. It was first discovered by the Spanish Missionaries looking for a good place to graze cattle. Here the large valley comes down to a narrow area where the creek drains through, and the Missionaries built a large earthen dam to hold in the cattle and collect water. This created a corral of earth and hence the name. John Steinbeck later described this valley in books as the “pastures of heaven.” De Tierra Vineyard and Winery is the only commercial vineyard in this vicinity.
The Russell property includes a south facing bowl with a 6-8 degree slope. This bowl keeps the coastal influences at bay and creates its own micro climate. In 1997, the Russell’s, with the help of close friend Lucio Gomiero (a vintner from the Veneto region of Italy) set about clearing this spot of its sage brush cover, preparing the ground and designing the vineyard. Because this little valley had a combination of very loamy soils with some Monterey shale and high organic matter content they chose a very non-aggressive root stock so 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 Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Syrah.