By Lisa Rowlands

This small appellation of just a hundred vineyard hectares was granted official AVA status in 2011 on account of its unique terroir. Tiny parcels of vine are dotted amongst oak woodlands and lush, green rolling hills at elevations up to nine-hundred metres above sea level. And only vineyards above four-hundred-and-ninety metres are permitted to use the AVAs label on their bottles.

The climate of Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Peak is distinguished by cooler days and warmer nights when compared with the valley below. Whilst the elevation of the vineyards ensures excellent sunlight exposure during the day, the temperatures are heavily moderated by strong winds and are subsequently a few degrees lower than neighbouring appellations. At night however, as cool air sinks into the valley, these mountainside plots enjoy relative warmth. Rocky, volcanic soils of shale and sandstone drain freely and hence, despite significant rainfall, the vigour of vines is limited and the fruit yield, rich in flavour.

Cabernet Sauvignon comprises the lion’s share - around four fifths - of Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Peak’s vineyards, with its Bordeaux cousin Merlot also prevalent. Other grapes planted in smaller quantities include Chardonnay, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Riesling and Tannat.