The Rockpile AVA is located on 15,400 acres in Sonoma County, California. The AVA was established in 2002 and is located northwest of the town of Healdsburg. The name originates from a local mountain top named Rockpile Peak. The mountain has a steep elevation of over 800 feet above sea level. The steep slope of the Rockpile area is an average of 18 inches deep with small rocks and gravel mixed in the soil, which allows for excellent drainage. All of the elements of the soil combine to cause the vines to struggle mightily to produce, giving vines from Rockpile low yields and intense fruit flavors. The high elevation of the region means that the vines are above the fog line that creeps in from the Pacific Ocean and makes for a very moderate climate. The area is most well known for its production of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Zinfandel.
Rockpile Ranch was founded in 1867 by Tennessee Carter Bishop who started as a sheep farm but later planted the first wine grapes in the area in 1872. He was joined in the endeavor by S.P. Hallengren whose descendants continue to produce wine grapes in the appellation.
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