The Thomas George Estates
The quality of the land dictates the quality of the wine. This belief is one of the cornerstones of Thomas George Estates, and was the defining factor guiding the Baker family in the creation of their acclaimed Russian River Valley estate program. This estate program includes three diverse vineyards: Baker Ridge, Starr Ridge and Cresta Ridge, comprising a total of more than 63 planted acres, with the vast majority being Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The provenance of these vineyards speak to the standards of excellence that drive Thomas George Estates. Baker Ridge Vineyard was originally the Davis Bynum Vineyard, one of the most acclaimed properties in all of the Russian River Valley, while Cresta Ridge and Starr Ridge were both farmed by winemaking icon Gary Farrell.
While all three hillside sites are in the cool Russian River Valley, they were chosen for their diversity as well as their quality. Each offers a unique soil composition, as well as a mix of clonal material, vine age and exposures. And though they are all cool-climate vineyards, on any given day during the growing season, there is often a ten degree variance in temperature between Cresta Ridge in the extremely cool Green Valley region of the Russian River Valley, and Starr Ridge on the northeastern slopes of the Santa Rosa Plain (with the temperatures at Baker Ridge generally falling somewhere in between).
These factors, combined with a block-by-block approach to farming and harvesting, as well as a small-lot approach to winemaking that includes as many as 50 different fermentations in a given vintage, produce an extremely diverse selection of exceptional fruit from which to craft the wines.
In the vineyards, the Baker family and Winemaker Chris Russi (who began his wine career as a vineyard manager) work closely with legendary winegrower Ulises Valdez and noted consultant Bob Gallagher to tailor farming techniques that help each vineyard and every block reach its full potential. While yields are kept low in all the vineyards (generally from 2 to 3 tons per acre), the focus is on creating vine balance, with uniform ripening of pristine quality fruit. This vine balance, in turn helps to produce balanced wines, and is achieved through meticulous canopy management, pruning, and vigorous fruit dropping when necessary.