The Alta Orsa Estate is comprised of 160 acres of pristine, sacred land, 15 acres of which are planted to estate mountain vineyards on Duncan Peak in southern Mendocino County.
At 1,400 feet of elevation, on the southern edge of Mendocino County’s Sanel Valley, Alta Orsa Estate sits above the Russian River and its fog lines. Duncan Peak is to the west of the estate, and is flanked by the Yorkville Highlands and Alexander Valley appellations, both to the south.
In 1989, the Topel family discovered our old sheep farm, perched on the hills west of Hopland. They quickly recognized the potential for grape growing on this ideal parcel of land, and discovered that it has perfect growing conditions for Bordeaux varieties.
Today, the Alta Orsa Estate has a total of 160-acres, with only 15 prime vineyard acres planted to Vitis vinifera (wine grapes). The rest of this pristine land is left to nature; oaks, manzanitas, coyotes, hawks, and rattlesnakes add to its characteristic grandeur. Our varieties include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot.
This site is made very special by the Maymen-Etsel-Snook complex soils, hosting our vines. The Maymen-Etsel-Snook complex soil type is mostly composed of weathered shale and sandstone. This contributes to excessive drainage and tough growing conditions; yet, it’s perfect for premium grape growing. The battle for water, nutrients, and minerals result in small concentrated berries, with phenomenal color and flavors. Furthermore, our 4 x 5-foot planting ensures that all work in our sloping vineyard is done by hand – no tractors or machines. This slow and strenuous way of farming allows our vineyard team to learn its every contour and every vine. As vignerons, we use this knowledge during harvest to fillet the vineyard row-by-row, or vine-by-vine, to select the perfectly ripe clusters, at the exact right time.
When harvest time arrives, we accept, with humility, that the quality of our fruit has been set by nature and our helping hands in the vineyard. Grapes are fermented in small batches of about one ton. This allows us to keep each pick separate, and then to learn what each has to offer.