Jack Florence Sr. Vineyard

Jack Florence Jr. identified Rockpile’s potential in 1992 when looking for a homesite. He came upon redwoods and tall grass and knew that this was a sign of good soil. He planted his first block in 1994 and then several others followed including a vineyard for his dad, Jack Sr. Later, they along with fellow grower Rod Park, helped to establish the Rockpile appellation in 2002.

Rockpile is one of the smallest viticultural areas in planted acres and one of only a few defined by a minimum elevation. This is at 800 feet, just above our fog line. The region is rugged, remote and beautiful with both lake and maritime influences providing cooler temperatures, longer hangtimes and slower, more even ripening. It is one of the most acclaimed zinfandel regions in the world.
The Jack Florence Sr. Vineyard was planted between 1998 and 2002 and consists of 9.5 acres of zinfandel, 2 of syrah and just under an acre of petite sirah. It sits along a hillside ridge, at an elevation of 1250 feet and overlooks Lake Sonoma in the Rockpile/Dry Creek Valley overlap zone. It is 16 miles to the coast as the crow flies, 13 miles west of the Geyserville town center and 19 miles northwest of Healdsburg.

Compared to surrounding valleys, Rockpile’s climate is unique and moderate with significantly lower daytime highs and higher nighttime lows. Wind is a constant feature. Average annual rainfall is 55 inches and comes mostly between November and March. During the spring, fog, and cooler temperatures delays budbreak. Then in the summer, deep and cold Lake Sonoma creates an atmospheric inversion which pulls the fog below 800 feet. This allows the vineyards above to bask in abundant sunshine. Towards harvest, temperatures remain warm, and rain is uncommon. Ripening is slow and even
The slopes are steep. The topsoil layer has mostly washed away leaving behind a shallow and well-drained rocky loam subsoil layer of poor quality. Officially categorized as Suther Loam, the soil ranges mostly in depth from 12 to 24 inches. It is underlain by a fractured sandstone bedrock. The rocks and soil are dark reddish-brown due to their high iron content that zinfandel favors.
The vines have a story too. In the most unlikely of places, one of California’s oldest surviving vineyards is in nearby Cloverdale at St. Peter’s Church. Here, zinfandel planted in the 1880’s still flourishes and is known for its intense color and flavors. Unusual for ancient vines, they had no apparent signs of leaf roll virus. Jack Jr. had farmed this vineyard for several years dating back to his early days as a young parishioner. He took cuttings from this rare clone for his source of budwood and field grafted them to 110R rootstock in the vineyards. They were known as the St. Peter’s Church clone, but is now called the Rockpile clone.
The vineyard is bordered and surrounded by native plants and forests rich in biodiversity. Insecticide is not used nor has it been required. Solar meets our electrical needs. We do not burn. Pruned cuttings are mulched in the rows adding organics to the soil which increases moisture retention. We do not till. Although the original cover crop has been lost to memory, the rows are now covered with wildflowers including poppies, buttercups, clover, and carpets of chamomile along with native grasses. In late spring as the soil dries and growth ceases, the rows are mowed. We hang less than 3 tons per acre and, in some blocks, as little as two. We drop the wings and non-uniform clusters. Canopy management and harvest is entirely done by hand. Our goal is to achieve a balanced canopy consistent with our fruit production. And finally, well-timed leafing for optimal sun exposure without sunburn, encourages slow and even ripening and brings out the best possible fresh fruit expression.
It is the coalescence of all these factors that sets the stage for low-yielding stressed vines, grapes with great color and flavor, that culminates with a well-structured wine cascading with full-bodied fruit layers, balanced acidity, and refined tannins.

As you can see, not just one or even a few of these features would suffice. An exceptional wine requires all these features come together in a well-orchestrated fashion to produce a unique and extraordinary wine not found anywhere else.

Thank Goodness, WE KNOW JACK!
A few words from our founders:


We want to make the best possible estate grown wine by growing fruit which best expresses the site and the Rockpile region while preserving the environment with sustainability, encouraging biodiversity, and adapting to climactic change.

Thank you for your support. It’s so much appreciated!! We hope you enjoy our wine from this incredibly special place, Rockpile! 

First Release

WE KNOW JACK! Rockpile Riff Raff is estate grown single vineyard, single block Zinfandel with a pinch of our Petite Sirah; both from our Jack Florence Sr. Vineyard. Big, Bold and Robust, yet elegant and balanced with fresh fruit flavors of blueberries, raspberries and cassis followed by a long smooth finish. In blind tastings, it can be confused for a cabernet, a red blend or a weighty pinot. Cheers!

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