o   u   r           t   e   r   r   o   i   r

We have the good fortune to have landed in a unique area in Ohio, and even in the United States.

First, we are situated in a 'thumb' area of hardiness zone 6A.  This means, on average, we have average winter low temperature events of -10 degrees to -5 degrees farenheit.  Cabernet Franc and Reisling can survive these lows.  My Cabernet Sauvignon is also doing well...surviving these cold events.  Our farm is located right under the "M" of our county name, Muskingum, on the map, center east in Ohio...

Our hills were capped by Limestone and Sandstone...the Limestone over the Eons has held the heights while incessant rain and winds and the action of erosion has cut the hollows deeper, made the hills steeper, giving us our interesting terrain.  The Ridge Meanders 7 miles in every direction from its center at the Flint Ridge Park now, MISmanaged by the State of Ohio, and its heights are a constant 1,000' to 1,100'.   Our vineyard begins at 900' elevation, rises to 1,010'.  The valley below our vineyard drops and meanders 1/2 mile to Dillon Reservoir. which has a normal pool elevation of 734'.  In their lack of wisdom, I hear the State now wants to tax all counties within the Dillon contributory watershed to DREDGE THE LAKE.  Well, the Lake is going to fill up with silt again.  And again, and again. 

Be that as it may, we have temperature events akin to the Ohio River Region (Appelation). 

Very soon, I shall initiate the process to recognize/create the Flint Ridge Appelation of Ohio...

This is the magical place where the Great Spirit enriched the land with stone tools for ancient people.  The farmers who followed them in the early 1800's had tools of iron and steel, and so what was a priceless necessity to One People, became priceless in another way, creating magic and waysides for the flowering of imagination in their children...

Flint Playhouse at the corner of Hidden Springs and Brushy Fork Road

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our vineyard is located on the northeastern edge of the Flint Ridge in southeastern Ohio, where ancient people, the Adena and theHopewell, commonly known as the Moundbuilders for the elaborate earth burial mounds and ceremonial earthworks they built, regularly visited in order to mine colorful flints only found here (Vanport Flint) and to set up seasonal workshops to fashion a year's supply of flint tools and weapons.  And, so, on this overcast March morning, I am revisiting my childhood, remembering the magic of Italy and the wonderful stone walls that occur everywhere, and thinking that our creek crossing needs some attention so it does not continue to wash out with every spring flood.  And flood it does, rushing down this hollow...

And so, I begin carting down stone left over from my water tank excavation to firm up the silty creek crossing.  I imagine the round stones being crushed into the mud to make firmer base I can 'pave' 'with large flat stones.  Then, I will roll boulders down from the slopes you see, left and right on the creekbank, to make the encircling 'dam' and sluice which, hopefully will have enough stone in it to resist the flood pressure that will hit it during any spring flood.  It is another human intervention in nature, a cooperation to conserve some of the energy latent in the rushing water (someday, this water will power a ram which will pump small amounts of water continuously up into a tank at the top of our vineyard.  This continuous pumping, powered by the hyraulic head we will have created, willl fill a huge tank with no use of natural gas or electricity.  And the stone will remain within yards of its destination before it became material for my art, and for its membership in our Terroir, which thankfully, recognizes HUMAN BEINGS as a part of this 'nature' which expresses itself in the wines it produces.

Every year, the swelling creek waters wash a little more of the hillside and the creekbed down stream.  As I collect larger stones off the hillside, in the floor of the creek I always find surprises like this...

This is too perfect to not be an ancient scraping tool.  It fits in the palm of my hand and has a gently rounded and sharp edge which would be perfect for scraping the fat off the inside of a hide one has stretched to tan....   It is a brown flint, with some very small pores.

 

 

 

To the left, below, is an image I've photographed of flint outcroppings on the farm just south of ours...we have such outcroppings, too, in two wet weather spring washes...one which feeds the creek that I'm building the sluice for, and one which empties into the creek to the east of the vineyard emptying into Salyer's Pond. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flint is in a particular spot in our vineyard.  It is heaviest in the Chambourcin / Traminette blocks.  Here we are after finishing planting Chambourcin with the 'cherty' deposits we found.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The flint occurs heaviest in two soil types, which you see mapped in the next image, centered over the Licking County and Muskingum County lines... 

This is the soils survey map of western Muskingum County and Eastern Licking County published by the "National Cooperative Soil Survey", a joint effort of the USDA, other federal agencies, state and local agencies. 

I've dotted on the boundaries of our farm, and the vineyard is blocked out on the larger image.  But here, you see the extent of these soils as they spread their fingers over the ridgetops from 1,000' elevation to 1,100 feet elevation at the state memorial, 7 miles west on the Flint Ridge Road.

This is the soils survey map of western Muskingum County and Eastern Licking County published by the "National Cooperative Soil Survey", a joint effort of the USDA, other federal agencies, state and local agencies. 

Frankstown Variant / Mertz Complex soils are colored yellow.   These soils are at ridgetops, gently sloping and well drained.  They are 45% Frankstown Variant silt loam, and 35% Mertz very cherty silt loam.  The two soils are so intricately intermingled that it isn't practical to separate them in mapping.  Frankstown is moderately deep, with a top friable silt loam layer 4" thick.  The subsoil is 18" thick.  The upper part is yellowish brown friable and firm silt loam.  The lower layer is yellowish brown very cherty silt loam.  Flint bedrock is at a depth of 22".

Mertz Complex soils are colored orange.  The Mertz soils are deep.  Typically the surface layer is frown, friable very cherty silt loam about 6" thick.  The subsoil is about 42" thick.  The upper part is yellowish brown, friable cherty silt loam.  The lower part is yellowish brown firm cherty silt loam.  The underlying material to a depth of 60" or moroe is stromgbrown firm channery silty clay loam.  Included with these soils in mapping are areas that are shallow over flint bedrock and areas that have very stony or bouldery surface layer.  Also included are areas of moderately well drained Aaron and Keene soils in landscape positions similar to or slightly higher than those of the Frankstown Variant and Mertz soils.  Included areas make up about 20% of most delineations.

 


 

 

terroir? terroir?

The following notes document recent research and observations of the effect of Flint Ridge Vineyard's soils on the flavors of our wines.

Dateline February 24:   A geology class from OSU has contacted us and want to make arrangements to come and observe, and perhaps dig, touch, smell, taste (...yes, actually *taste* the dirt!!) our Terroir.  I had an interesting visitor this Saturday to the winery, Reese from near Canton, Ohio, and together, we tasted our wines, talked philosophy and aesthetics and noticed some interesting commonalities in the 'taste experience in three of our estate grown and produced  wines.  Reese was a great help to me because his acute palate identified components of taste that finish 'mouthwateringly long' in EACH of our wines.   I had not noticed this throughout our offerings...

"Its your terroir," he said. 

It's the soil.    It *has* to be.

Dateline March 4, 2006:  Professor Garry McKenzie arrived about 11, and Reese moments later.  We had an interesting chat and learned Professor  McKenziie's interest in finding vineyard sites with interesting soils producing wines which have some element of taste or sensation. He has a class offering on Terroir from a  Geologist's standpoint...and was scouting our place for such a mystery to be solved.  Could this 'identificable commonality' be the input of our TERROIR?  

This kind of analysis takes a mountain of statistical modeling, and Professor Garry dampened our  ardour a tit...but his class *will* be looking for, both in the soil and in the Winer elements, compounds, molecules, traces, which are both In the soil and In the wine .  Stay tuned...I will write some notes on Professor Garry's theory he propounded halfway up the vineyard hill, to have it proven right, as we reached the summit of the vineyard, beyond the Cab Sauv planting about 100 yards NW, an outcropping of limestone, flat on the surface and one of 6 or 7 such outcroppings,perhaps an area of 7' by 7' of each exposed. 

Dateline April 2, 2006:  We had Keith Grause Excavating over Saturday to do a variety of improvements to our land...clean some large boulders out of fields, bury trash, regrade roads...  Keith has lived over the hill from our vineyard ALL his life...and he  understands rocks, soil and drainage.  The short of it?  Limestone, which we have at the TOP of our vineyard, is dissolved little by little in every rain, and drops into sandy soil which is the result of bad farming practices, the glacier (we are in the unglaciated edge, the edge of the Appalachian Highlands, where the glacier piled a jumble of soils.), and  reaches our vines. 

Limestone and sandstone lies at the summit above layers of clay of various types, which is above veins of blue pottery clay (impervious to water) and aged (cracked) shale.

     Rain carries particles of limestone minerals into and through sandy clay when it soon hits impervious clay.  It builds up pressure as water above continues to flow. These pools of backed up underground water become wet spots in a field.  Good enough, so far. 

When the water reaches the shale, it travels down along cracks and fissures in the shale until it is stopped by another pottery (blue) clay barrier.

And thus are the sweet natural limestone minerals delivered to the roots of thirsty Flint Ridge Vineyard Vines.