From Our Editors
When lifelong friends Chris Medlock James and Ames Morison arrived at the rolling pastures and manzanita trees of Bell Mountain Vineyard—heralded as a “near definition of utopia” by Food & Wine magazine—they knew instantly that this was the spot. The pair came to the decision after two years of scouring Sonoma County for the ideal property to start their own wine estate on—that was in 1998. Today, Chris and Ames have their grape-emblazoned flag firmly planted in Sonoma County's wine culture. They've done so by using a completely holistic approach to winemaking—one they believe reflects the beauty of their land and that relies solely on organic farming and solar power. Their philosophy even carries over to their method of pest control, which uses corridors instead of high fences, allowing nuisance animals such as wild pigs and deer to pass through certain spots in the vineyard without harming the fruit, the guests, or themselves. In the same nature-loving vein, Chris and Ames rely on barn owls and hawks to hunt rodents.
With 320 total acres at its disposal, Medlock Ames takes up only 56 with vineyards, leaving the rest for oaks and flowers to grow freely. Upon this portion of the land, Chris and Ames begin their small-production process, which continues inside their custom-built winery with gentle gravity-flow techniques and natural yeast fermentation. The process yields a wide range of high-quality artisan wines, from chardonnay and sauvignon blanc to merlot and cabernet sauvignon. The duo makes the fruits of their labor available in their nearby tasting room, as well as during wine-tasting experiences and tours of their production facility at Bell Mountain Ranch, available for Wine Club members only.