Marine Layer is about making authentic, cool-climate Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from the very best vineyards in the Sonoma Coast. We produce small-batch wines of complexity, distinction, and longevity for those who share our passion for quality, at any cost.
Our wines are an expression of our land, our history, and our soul.
Located in the Green Valley sub-AVA, Charles Heintz Vineyard is just outside of the town of Occidental. Two ridges in, and only about 8 miles from the Pacific Ocean, Heintz has become one of the most famous Chardonnay sites in California. The Chardonnay from this vineyard develops slowly as foggy, cool evenings slow down ripening significantly, especially at the end of the season. The soil is a classic sandy Goldridge loam. The resulting wines are prized for their layers of flavor and incredible depth, yet they also retain beautiful structural elements. Owner and grower, Charlie Heintz’s family have farmed this land for over 100 years. Charlie’s grandparents purchased the property in 1912 and grew Zinfandel until the Prohibition era. The vineyards were replaced with apple orchards until 1982 when they replanted most of the acreage to Chardonnay.
The Gap’s Crown Vineyard has established itself as one of the most coveted and high-quality sites for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in all of California. It’s extreme rolling slopes provide protection from the cold marine air that channels from the ocean through the Petaluma Wind Gap. The surrounding geography also creates a natural fog pocket around Gap’s Crown. The lingering fog that is trapped, especially towards the end of the growing season, allows the fruit to ripen slowly, developing sugar and phenolic ripeness in unison.
Soils here are Goulding-Toomes Complex, which is well-draining, iron-rich, brown clay loam with significant volcanic rock. The vines for our Chardonnay were planted in 2002 to Clones 76 and 95, at an elevation of 600 feet with a southwest aspect. There are several different blocks of Pinot Noir in the vineyard, but we love the depth of flavor that we get from the blocks higher up on the hill where we find Dijon clones of Pinot Noir, specifically 828 and a bit of 115.
When we heard a rumor that some of the best Pinot Noir in all of Sonoma is on a tiny little vineyard on Occidental Road (just west of Sebastopol), we went on a scouting trip. As it turns out, our friends at DuMol had a bit of fruit to share with us and our friends at Ceritas. We jumped at the opportunity to work with Calera and Swan clone Pinot Noir from this remarkable site. Jentoft’s vines are on both northern and southern sides (Calera on the south, and Swan on the north face), perched on a steep hill. The slopes are pure sandstone bedrock with a very shallow (just 8″-10″) layer of Goldridge soil on top. Deep roots, thick fog, and a prolonged and steady growing season are hallmarks of Jentoft.
In 2018, in the thick of a bumper harvest, we were connected to this extraordinary vineyard through a friend who knew we were on the perpetual hunt for heritage clonal material from distinctive sites. Gravenstein is located in Sebastopol Hills, known for its rolling, hilly terrain at moderate elevation with small parcel sizes (nooks, crannies, lumps, and bumps). Historically, the area was planted to apple orchards, which have gradually transitioned to vineyards over the past few decades. Planted to 100% Calera clone, this block of the Gravenstein Vineyard has iron-rich Goldridge soils that produce wines full of dark fruit and structure. As a bonus, the 100+-year-old apple orchard adjacent to the vineyard provides a perfect snack break.
Sitting in the heart of Sonoma, this special site is exposed to both the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean influences that combine to produce wines of extraordinary depth. This Estate sees a balance of steady warmth, cooling fog, and afternoon coastal breezes. Originally planted in 1979, the vines were tended by grower Steve Hill for more than 30 years before he shared his intimate knowledge with our Director of Vineyard Operations, Rob Harris. From cover crops to water collection, every vineyard decision is measured by how it will affect this vintage, as well as the next generation of winemakers. Since first being planted in 1979, Chardonnay has proven itself to be the shining star of Durell Vineyard. From the sandier soils in the hills to the stony ancient river bottom soils in the flats, Chardonnay is able to express itself with intense concentration both on the nose and palette. Yields at Durell are naturally very low which focuses the vine’s energy into small amounts of fruit, perfect for top-flight wines.
sonoma coast wines | @marinelayerwines
308-b center street | healdsburg, ca 95448 | 707.473.8214 | email@example.com