Chiles Valley History
Joseph Ballinger Chiles was an early California pioneer, first arriving from Missouri in 1841. He, of course, made the acquaintance of General Mariano Vallejo in Sonoma, who sent him over the hills to the Napa Valley to meet George Yount, with the goal of building a grist mill.
In exploring for a site Chiles rode through the narrow canyon from Napa Valley and discovered Chiles Valley. He was enchanted. He requested a land grant, and as the land was vacant, was granted two leagues (8000 acres) of Rancho Catacula in exchange for the grist mills and a mill wright.
Chiles was a farmer and the first vineyard went in under his watch. He and his mill wright friend, Billy Baldridge, also made whiskey for trading and drinking and medicinal purposes.
Chiles developed this land and purchased additional properties, becoming a very influential pioneer of early California.
The Catacula Rancho passed down through the Chiles family. By 1968 the middle piece belonging to Henry Chiles, Joseph’s grand son, sold to Louis Peter Martini.
By that time the ranch was in hay, and rattlesnakes.
Louis developed the Chiles Ranch (rechristianed Ghost Pines) with a mixture of varietals ending up with Cabernet Sauvignon as the best adapted to the microclimate.
At the time of purchase it was possible to see the faded terracing of Joseph Chiles' vineyard surrounding the old Husmann winery site. But it takes time and experience to determine the best varieties for planting in a particular microsite. Louis P Martini had both.
First came the placement of thermographs. The ranch warmed up on a summer’s day like Calistoga, and then about 2 p.m. the thermographs started shaking and the temperature dropped because the rising hot air pulled in cool air from the San Pablo Bay. Thus Chiles Valley is a Region 2 growing area. This plus its deep, well-drained Pleasanton Loam soil create a perfect vineyard site.
Louis tried Zinfandel, Chenin Blanc, Barbera, Merlot and Cabernet. With its late spring and late harvest, with a tendency for frost, Cabernet became the surest bet.
When Louis M Martini Winery sold in 2002, Louis P.'s daughter Carolyn kept 30 acres of vineyard land and named it High Valley Vineyards in honor of the High Valley school house which had been located on the property in the 1880s.
The three vineyard blocks were then replanted to Cabernet Sauvignon with a few rows each of Petit Verdot, and Malbec to blend into the field blend “Defender” under the “Castlevale"brand.
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is a blend created by the winemaker by tasting the grapes in the vineyard and recommending the picking proportions. Also called a field blend
Rootstocks 4453, 110R and 1103P
Average tonnage: 3.5
Average tonnage: 2.5
PO Box 112
St. Helena, Napa Valley, CA 94574