P   M   STAIGER was established in 1973 on a ridge above Boulder Creek, in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The site had been an early twentieth century vineyard and winery operated by the Jim Locatelli family, but by the time we purchased the land the vines had long since disappeared and only a few large hoops from the old redwood tanks were all that remained of the cellar.

We replanted the vineyard and built a new house and winery, designed by Robert Walker. The varieties planted - Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot,and Cabernet Franc - were determined by the types that had been historically grown successfully with good exposure in the higher elevations of the Santa Cruz Mountains, and, admittedly, our love of the French archetypes of these wines. The Cabernet was planted on a slope that faces almost due south, the Merlot to the west of this where it gets more of the northwest marine influence and so is somewhat cooler, and the Chardonnay on a slope facing southwest. Of equal if not greater importance is the elevation: our vineyards are above one thousand feet which is the boundary between the cold air in the valley and the warmer air in the thermal belts above. Since the vineyards came into full production we have made wine only from our own grapes. Having this one source, which we control down to the smallest detail, has provided an opportunity to perfect wine making to a degree that is rarely possible.

Our production is very limited - typically we make fewer than four hundred cases per year. The Chardonnay is cold fermented using slow acting yeasts, and then moved into a combination of new and one year old French oak for aging. It is racked often during the first six months in order to bring out as much varietal fruit as possible. In this sense it is unlike many California Chardonnays being made today: by not aging sur lie, we enhance the fruit and play down the buttery flavors. It receives a light (5 micron) filtration. The Cabernet, Merlot, and Franc is fermented in small individual lots at relatively low temperatures, as we prefer elegance to extracted tannins. It is aged in thin stave, chateaux-style French barrels, 30% new each year. It is neither fined nor filtered. After the wines have been in the barrel the desired amount of time - eight to ten months for the Chardonnay, eighteen to twenty-four months for the Cabernet - they are held in stainless steel for one year, and then bottled. Additional aging in the bottle is done before release.

Our winemaking style, which is clearly seen in both these wines, emphasizes finesse, elegance, and the intense varietal fruit potential of grapes grown in the higher portions of the Santa Cruz Mountains.