When winemaker David Rossi founded Fulcrum in 2005, he started by making cold calls to top Pinot Noir growers, working to persuade them into giving him access to small amounts of their fruit. His goal, was to make wines from the finest vineyards, without being constrained by regions or boundaries. After years of earning their respect as a winemaker, today, top growers are happy to work with David. The Fulcrum vineyard program now includes grand cru-caliber vineyards in the Anderson Valley, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, Carneros and Chalone appellations.
To create luscious wines with the balance, complexity and depth of flavor for which Fulcrum is known, David generally selects slightly warmer sites, in very cool regions. These locations are warm enough to produce perfectly ripe fruit, but cool enough to allow the extended hangtime that builds the complex flavors David seeks. Because David believes in properly managing the fruit in the vineyards, as opposed to manipulating it after the fact in the winery, the viticultural practices of the growers is also key. David selects vineyard partners that emphasize vine balance and meticulous management practices. All of David’s Pinot Noir comes from vines trained on a VSP (vertical shoot positioning) trellis systems, with vines pruned to reduce shading of the fruit and promote ripening, but with enough leaves remaining to keep the vine healthy for decades to come. Crop thinning is practiced to create even ripening and to intensify flavors.
When selecting vineyards, David also evaluates the clonal material to ensure that it is diverse enough to create the complexity he desires for his Pinot Noirs, and that the selected clones produce the most impressive wines from their particular vineyard. To this end, he will select the blocks and rows with the clones he specifically wishes to work with.
Last, but perhaps most important, vineyards are selected because they have track records of excellence, and because they inspire David as a winemaker, with each one offering something distinctive and compelling for Fulcrum’s small portfolio of vineyards- and appellation-designated Pinot Noirs.
Since being planted in 2002, Gap's Crown Vineyard has emerged as one of the Sonoma Coast’s preeminent vineyards for Pinot Noir. Nestled on the western hillside of Sonoma Mountain, Gap’s Crown presents an amazing location to capture both the complexity and intensity that define world-class Pinot Noir. The site’s distinctive microclimate is predominantly influenced by summer fog rushing in from the Pacific Ocean through the Petaluma Gap. The soils are rocky and well drained, and are ideal for Burgundian varietals. Of the six different clones of Pinot Noir grown at Gap's Crown, David has chosen to use clones 667 and 828 for Fulcrum’s Gap’s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir. With abundant lush, dark fruit, this wine is consistently the most rich and voluptuous Fulcrum offering. As is the case with all of the vineyards Fulcrum works with, set rows of Gap’s Crown are farmed specifically to David’s specifications under long-term contract.
Located in the famed Chalone appellation of Monterey, Brosseau is truly one of California's premier vineyards, and it is also one of its most unique. While some vineyards in the state have cool climates, and others have limestone in their soils, very few have both. In 1980, this convergence of climate and geology inspired Jon and Jan Brosseau to plant their iconic vineyard. Tucked into the Gavilan mountain range, east of the Santa Lucia Highlands, Brosseau is a spectacular vineyard for Pinot Noir. It is farmed organically, and consistently yields less than 2 tons per acre of dark, exceptionally concentrated fruit. The vineyard’s climate and limestone, decomposed granite and volcanic rock soils also impart a clear minerality to the wines, as well as a firm, tannic backbone. Fulcrum's blocks of Brosseau include clones 113, 114 and 115, which are used in the Brosseau Vineyard Pinot Noir.
Mary Elke planted Donnelly Creek in 1991. Like many of our vineyards, it’s a warmer site in a cool region, which allows us to achieve the levels of ripeness we want, while ensuring the poise and restraint we love. The vineyard is composed of creek-side blocks of vines bordered by steeply terraced vines, and is planted with several different clones of Pinot Noir including Pommard, Stang, Elliot and 115. With its effusive dark cherry notes, balanced acid and brooding layers of moist earth, there is an essential Anderson Valley-ness to the Pinot from Donnelly Creek that is incredibly compelling. This fruit is used in both our Fulcrum Anderson Valley and On Point Christinna's Cuvee wines.
Originally planted in 1979 by Ed Durell our section of the vineyard was first developed in 1992. It has become California's most prestigious and consistently excellent Chardonnay vineyard. The location, outside of the town of Sonoma, is at the intersection of Sonoma Coast, Sonoma Valley, and Carneros appellations. This ideal location benefits from the cooling effects of both the Petaluma Gap breezes and San Pablo Bay. We have selected a section of the vineyard in the Sand Hill block to make our Fulcrum Chardonnay. Utilizing Clone 95 exclusively, we acheive a depth of fruit which is unparrelled and which we respect by crafting the wine utilizing traditional barrel fermentation techniques.
Located in the heart of the Middle Reach of the Russian River Valley AVA Landy is poised above the cloudline on rock soils. This renowned vineyard’s elevation ranges from 300 to 1000 feet above sea level creating a variety of microclimates. This dramatic change in elevation allows for cool climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to grow at lower levels while up on the peak Zinfandel and Petite Sirah grow. David utilizes the Petite Sirah from the top of the property to craft our Fulcrum version—a bold expression of Russian River Valley Petite. Displaying the power of Petite, but with the complexity and balance that only comes when this varietal is grown in a cool climate on the edge of the ability to ripen. From the sloping lower portion of the vineyard David crafts the Landy Pinot Noir into a wine with elegance and poise.
This special vineyard is located right outside of the town of Philo in the cooler part of the Anderson Valley. The Gewurztraminer was planted here in 1968 and the old gnarled vines show that age. Having a cool climate is important to growing Gewurztraminer as it is a low acid varietal and cooler vineyards will help to preserve the precious acid the grapes can retain. We have selected a section of the vineyard where we get fruit that acheives the gorgeous aromatics of the varietal without becoming too flowery or soapy. There is no better place in California to grow Gewurztraminer than this vineyard in this valley.
The term "mountain" does not seem to go with the Carneros appellation, a region known to be low and marshy right next to San Pablo Bay. However, this is exactly what you find in this special vineyard. It was planted in 1998 by Steve MacRostie very close to the bay at 700 feet above sea level. Red volcanic soils produce very low yielding vines that produce fruit of exceptional richness but also finesse. A cool site due to the winds and elevation this is often the last Pinot Noir vineyard we pick. Clones Pommard, 115, 777, and 667 from Wildcat go into our Fulcrum Wildcat Mountain Pinot as well as our On Point wines.