School House Vineyard takes its name from a 19th century, one-room school house on the Gantner family’s property on Spring Mountain. Though it was no longer in use as a school house, the building existed until the 1980s when it was lost in a fire. The Gantner family today makes extremely limited quantities of estate wines from their un-irrigated vineyard, located at 1,500 feet on the Spring Mountain. John Gantner’s father bought the property in 1940 and started tending the vineyards, some of which were planted in 1890. By 1957 the family was making wine. Today Gantner, his wife Nancy Walker and daughter Florence Gantner Zink run the operation, producing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and blends of Zinfandel and Syrah.
Spring Mountain AVA is above the town of St. Helena on the eastern slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains. There is no actual Spring Mountain, but the name has traditionally been used for the area, which includes many streams and springs. Spring Mountain was awarded appellation status in 1993 and it includes about 1,000 vineyard acres. Vineyard elevations are high, from 400 to 2,600 feet above sea level. Because of the altitude of most vineyards, which are above the fog line, mornings become warm earlier than vineyards on the valley floor, though the afternoons are cooled by maritime winds. The result is an exceptionally long growing season. Cabernet Sauvignon is the most frequently planted grape by acreage, followed by Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay.
This red wine is relatively light and can pair with a wide variety of foods. The grape prefers cooler climates and the wine is most often associated with Burgundy, Champagne and the U.S. west coast. Regional differences make it nearly as fickle as it is flexible.