Griffin's Lair Vineyard is on a hill overlooking San Pablo Bay and the Petaluma River, with views of Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County and Mt. Diablo in the East Bay. Twenty-two acres of vines were planted in early spring 2000—17 acres of pinot noir, 5 of syrah, with two rows of viognier intended for co-fermentation with the syrah. Ann Kraemer, vineyard consultant from Napa, helped plan the vineyard; Armando Ceja of Vina Management masterminded the preparations and planting of vines.
Soils are sandy loam on the hill, with greater clay content (clay loam) farther down the slope. The soil is well-drained, with varying amounts of gravel and rocks.
Dijon clones 667 and 115, on 101-14 rootstock, are planted on the two lower blocks; the Swan selection and Pommard are on the hillside blocks, these on 3309 rootstock. The pinot faces east, southeast, receiving morning sun, crisp breezes from the bay, and cool moisture from the fog that snakes inland from the Bay. Midday in summer is warm and sunny, but late afternoon brings more fog and wind from the west.
On the west facing side of the hill four clones: Syrah Noir, 470, Alban PB, and 877 were field grafted on 3309 and 101-14 rootstock. The defining factor on this block is the west wind that screams inland through the Petaluma Gap in late afternoon. Battered by wind, the syrah vines show only moderate growth and produce small clusters and berries of intense flavors.
Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, and which incorporates itself with the grapes, to be changed into wine: a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.
--Benjamin Franklin (1706-90)