As an avid collector of wines, John Graves' interest eventually sparked a desire to create the kinds of wines he had sought after. In 2015, John purchased 40 acres overlooking Bennett Valley. Partnering with Cabell Coursey, they revitalized the estate’s small, south-southwest blocks of Bordeaux and Rhône varietals with a focus on soil quality and vine health by way of organic viticultural practices. Choosing vines and adapting practices to match the character of the site, they capture the quintessential structure and site-specificity that rocky, volcanic soils and marine-influenced vineyards are famous for.
Cabell’s career started in Burgundy, France picking grapes during a semester abroad. After graduation, he returned to Burgundy to work in vineyards throughout Cote de Nuits. Cabell had the privilege to work some of the very last vintages under Jacky Truchot and Henri Jayer. Cabell attended Lincoln University in New Zealand, earning graduate degrees in Enology and Viticulture. Cabell’s passion for cool climate viticulture and methodical winemaking led to winemaking positions at acclaimed wineries across AVAs in both Napa and Sonoma. Cabell approaches winemaking with an intention to preserve freshness and a concept of purity and age-ability. The result is a wine deeply tied to both
a moment in time and place.
The Coursey Graves estate vineyard is a place where the distinction between rock and soil is blurred. Vines grow in volcanic soils created 5 million years ago. The Hambright “soil” is composed of weathered basalt and andesite gravel, cobbles, and stones. Across the landscape are boulder outcrops hinting at the igneous bedrock just a few feet below the surface.
It's difficult to farm here. Shallow, stony, free-draining soil with low fertility prompts fine root development. Vines struggle to establish. They are small; their yields are naturally limited. But the result is berries with intense color, texture, and flavor – grapes destined to be iconic wines.
Our terroir is greatly influenced by its maritime climate. Onshore breezes sweep across the Petaluma Valley to meet the mountain. The cool, drying air ventilates the vineyard, slowing fruit ripening, and establishing a balance between color, aroma, texture, and sugar.
Above the marine layer, 1500 feet above sea level – a privileged position – and on the southwestern slopes of the mountain, vines thrive in unimpeded, intensified sunlight. Ideal growing temperatures are compelled by thermal inversion, a phenomenon that upends standard models of air movement. During the day, hot air sinks into the valley, while cooler air is trapped above. At night, it reverses. Warm air rises to the vineyard, encouraging the biosynthesis of compounds paramount to complexity of flavor and aging potential.