Carmel Valley, Monterey County
Mark Chesebro is the former winemaker for Bernardus Winery of Carmel Valley from 1999-2005, and continues there as Consulting Winemaker, using a non-interventionist approach. His love of fine dining flavors began early, growing up with wine at the family dining table (European parentage), began making beer for the family at age 12, and later had his own artisan cheese dairy. Wine eventually became his focus, leading to an Enology degree from UC Davis and a career of winemaking.
As both a winemaker and grower, Mark Chesebro grows wine grapes in his own vineyards. The Winery is located at the Chesebro CM Ranch Vineyard in Carmel Valley, only 7 miles from the Pacific Ocean, yet 25 miles up the Carmel Valley. Perched at 1,500 feet elevation, with Rhone-like terroir, late budding and even-later harvesting (usually late October to late November), excellent drainage and low-nutrient-soil, which forces very deep vine rooting. The vineyard is managed without pesticides or herbicides and is hand-harvested in several passes.
His Cedar Lane Vineyard in Arroyo Seco is adjacent to the southern end of the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation and supplies fruit to several central coast wineries including Morgan and Bernardus. This cooler site gives 6 weeks more hang time. He is also an owner of the Soledad Mission Ranch Vineyard next to the Santa Lucia Highlands. Mark’s whites are picked with low brix, making lower alcohol levels without any watering back. Reds are bottled unfiltered.
Arroyo Seco Whites from the Cedar Lane Vineyard
The Cedar Lane Vineyard is just a few yards south of the famed Santa Lucia Highlands bench on the dry streambed floor (the Arroyo Seco), loaded with rounded river rocks varying in size down to find grains of sand. Almost no topsoil, with sand filling in gaps around all the rocks, it is a terrible place to try to dig a hole. But it is ideally well-drained, and produces wine grapes with concentrated flavors. It is located at the bottom of a sheer cliff, the driveway down hugging a 100-foot high vertical drop-off from the Santa Lucia Highlands bench, directly to the north. His Whites are made using no new oak, stainless fermented, and emphasize crisp acidity, lower alcohol levels and a combination of racy, juicy and exotic flavors. He accomplishes this style by harvesting each white varietal 3 different ripeness levels: a portion while the grape acidity is very high, the majority harvested at optimal ripeness, and a small portion harvested just days later, showing the more tropical, exotic flavors available. Mark’s whites are all picked with low brix, creating wines with lower alcohol levels.
Sauvignon Blanc 2019, Cedar Lane Vineyard, Arroyo Seco 12.9% Alcohol
Made 100% from the exotic-styled Musque clone, it has intense tropical aromas of honeydew melon, white peach and passion fruit, backed up by a floral and subtle grassy character. It is light bodied but full-flavored with minerality and zingy with crisp citrus brightness. 200 cases made.
Albariño 2019, Cedar Lane Vineyard, Arroyo Seco 12.8% Alcohol New Vintage
Winemaker Notes: “Aromas of Apricot blossoms and kumquats with background of minerality. The mouth is vibrant and racy with a very long finish. 100% fermented in Stainless steel barrels.” Beautiful aromas of stone fruit and citrus predominate followed by honeyed lemon and ginger and tropical fruit. The mouth-feel is very smooth with lingering flavors and a long, bright, crisp finish. It is both light and bright, finishing typically crisp and zippy. Perhaps Chesebro’s best Albariño to date. No ML, no oak, lees contact. Only 95 cases made.
Pinot Noir 2018, Arroyo Seco An incredible wine for the price 13.6% Alcohol New Vintage!
A 50/50 blend of Cedar Lane and Soledad Mission Ranch vineyards, both located adjacent to the Santa Lucia Highlands. Beautiful light ruby core with a pomegranate hue. Open-knit with hints of mulberries, rose petals, and thyme followed by aromas reminiscent of conifer forest floor. Very bright but rich at the same time. Soft and supple attack followed by a long, finessed finish. 10%new oak, unfiltered. 220 cases made.
“Las Arenas” 2016 (Grenache 67% / Syrah 33%), Cedar Lane Vineyard, Arroyo Seco Winemaker Notes: “Bigger than the 2015 with more structure and extraction. Intense nose of plums, rhubarb and black pepper backed up with a slight savory character. Mouth feel is medium weight with polished tannins, nice length and balancing acidity on the finish.”
“Le Montagne Sauvage” Rhone Red Blend 2013, CM Ranch Vineyard, Carmel Valley
Offers a brambly darkness with expressive aromas of blackberry and plum, cocoa and slight earthiness, both bright and deeply-flavored. Syrah-based with 25% Grenache and 5% Mourvedre. Grown at 1500 feet in dry limestone soils and Rhône-like terroir in the Carmel Valley mountains.