Nestled in the northern region of the Sierra Foothills on Doe Mill Ridge, overlooking Butte Creek Canyon, LaRocca Vineyards is where the southern butte of the Cascade Mountains meets the Sierra Nevada Mountains at the base of Mt. Lassen. Trumping our prestigious geographical location is our organic farming practices. We proudly honor the alchemy of our habitat, the soil, butterflies, frogs, bees, earthworms, owls, birds, and most of all the vinifera.
||Mt. Lassen Viewed From The West
||Sutter Buttes at Sunset
Our winery sits among 110 acres of old growth Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, along with Pinot Noir, Barbera and Zinfandel. Our second vineyard of Chardonnay is on the west side of the Sutter Buttes, the smallest mountain range in the world and a bald eagle sanctuary. We grow over 95% of our wine grapes for LaRocca Vineyards organic wines. Most all of our wines are estate-bottled.
There are two levels to our organic certification at LaRocca Vineyards:
GROWING and PROCESSING.
OUR ORGANIC VINEYARD
“Fine wine is created in the vineyards.”
Organic is a spirit, a way of life, a passion! Farming organically, was never an issue for Philip and Judy LaRocca. And although farming wine grapes was something new to us, in 1984. Farming organically was the only way. With three children to raise, the use of synthetic chemical additives was something we did not want to use.
The basis of organic farming, is farming without the use of synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and/or herbicides. Organic farming is feeding the soil, creating a fertile healthy eco system for the vines. Our high mountain, old growth vines thrive on our volcanic soil, they are head pruned, not trellised, so the plant gets optimal wind and air flow, while allowing the sun to enhance growth and ultimate ripeness.
An important aspect of our soil maintenance is our cover crop. We have created a special “LaRocca Blend” that includes native clovers, vetches, and legumes. The perennial cover crop adds nutrients to the soil, is an abundant source of nitrogen, while preventing erosion, and fostering habitat for friendly predatory birds and insects. During mid-spring, the vineyard is alive with vibrant colors and the buzz of bees and butterflies as our cover crop blossoms to full bloom.
Composting is not only important to organic farming practices, but it is an essential part of LaRocca Vineyards. We make our own organic compost on site. The knowledge it takes to perfect the science, and art of composting, especially to feed over a 110 acres, is one to be proud of. When touring LaRocca Vineyards, we’re sure to point it out.
During the height of the growing season, the day and night temperature differential can be as much as 50 degree F. The heat of the day allows the grape to achieve its full potential of flavor and ripeness. A gentle cool breeze from the Sacramento Valley, is channeled through the vineyard during the evenings. This combination of soil, warm days, cool evenings conspires to naturally stress the vines and force the roots to grow deep. The result? Fewer, smaller grapes with concentrated, complex flavors and characteristics. As Philip says, “Flavor is developed in the vineyard.” A complex, sometime subtle dance is preformed to achieve the perfect balance to which we aspire; to assure the highest quality grape for each vintage.
LaRocca Vineyards is certified by CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers). Every year our vineyards are inspected by a trained inspector to assure strict NOP compliance. We do soil, water, and foliage tests to not only assure our organic integrity but to study soil health and vinifera vitality. We are proud to say that LaRocca Vineyards have been certified organic since inception.
Organic farming is better for our drinking water, our ozone layer, our soil, for the people who live and work on the farms, and for, ultimately, those who drink our wines. An additional benefit of our organic growing approach is the overall health of the environment in and around the vineyards. A visit to our photo gallery
to see the abundance of wildlife, tiny and up, is a joy to behold.
OUR ORGANIC WINERY
Organic processing is without the use of GMOs, synthetic chemicals and preservatives, and/or no added sulfites. Philip LaRocca has dedicated half his life to mastering the art of organic winemaking. It is a skill few winemakers have. His belief and passion has driven him to seek perfection. Our wines are like no other, big, bold, and all organic.
With today’s modern equipment and Phil’s years of experience, we found it more than possible to make fine wines without the use of sulfites or other chemical additives. Sanitation is most important in organic wine making. We take extra care in every facet of our production to assure quality throughout. We are gentle and careful to assure all our wines and vintages uphold the highest quality from crush to bottling.
For years, Philip has used a French yeast strain that has been propagated for wine production for hundreds of years. It is free of GMOs and has proved to do well with our climate, grapes, and style. Most all our wines undergo malolactic, secondary, fermentation. This adds softness, complexity and different intonations, including the buttery note in our white wines.
Mastering the balance and flavors of oak is also an artful science in winemaking. Throughout the years Philip has found that French and American oaks enhance the most desirable flavors for our wines. A fan of fruit forward wines with ever so subtle touches of oak, he evaluates the vintage and wine, carefully choosing which oak will achieve specific characteristics to perfect each vintage.
Fining a wine helps to clarify and stabilize it. When added to the tank it falls to the bottom of the tank and settles. The clarified, clean, wine is racked off the top while the fining agent is discarded. Common fining agents used are hydrolyzed wheat gluten isolate, gelatin, egg whites, and bentonite clay. LaRocca Vineyards uses only bentonite, a natural earth clay, to fine our white wines (red wines are not fined).
Wine constitutes a living organism with great nutritive value. It contains over 250 valuable organic plant compounds. All the enzymes contained in LaRocca wines are still alive because we do not add any synthetic chemicals, no preservatives, NO SULFITES. To be an organic wine and to bear the USDA organic seal on the font label, as our wine labels do, you can NOT add sulfites. For more information and questions and answers on sulfites go to our Sulfite page
We are proud to offer fine organic wines, aged to perfection. Being of Sicilian heritage, Philip learned the art of European style wines. We like to age our wines through two springs and bottled midsummer of the second season or later. We monitor the wines and the enzymatic activity to capture the true essence and flavor of the wine, guaranteeing the utmost quality (contrary to the myth that organic wines don’t age).
We are not doctors and make no health claims about our wines, however, without the use of sulfites people find that they can enjoy our wines without adverse reactions - no headaches, no stuffiness, no redness, no sleeplessness, etc. Also our wines are free of wheat gluten and animal by-products. We are proud to say all our wines are vegan and those with wheat and gluten allergies can enjoy them too.
Just like the vineyard, our winery is inspected every year to assure organic integrity. CCOF sends a trained organic inspector to audit our records and inspect our facility. We are proud to say that LaRocca Vineyards winery has been certified organic since our first vintage was released, 1991 (before organic certification was done in processing facilities).
From vine-to-bottle LaRocca Vineyards is proud to offer USDA/CCOF certified organic wines. Enjoy!
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