Morgan Winery: winery information
Winemaker: Gianni Abate
Gianni started working in the wine industry in the San Joaquin Valley where he was raised by a wine drinking Italian family. Working for companies such as Bronco, Delicato, and Woodbridge he laid a good foundation for his winemaking career. Gianni’s love for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay brought him to the Central Coast in 2002. Gianni comes to Morgan Winery from the Robert Mondavi Corporation on the Central Coast. His experiences on the Central Coast have taught him to balance the science and the art of winemaking. He has a tremendous palate, which is necessary to produce world-class wines. Gianni’s love for Burgundian wines brought him to Morgan Winery in 2005. With access to premier fruit, Gianni crafts world class wines which elegantly express the terroir from Morgan’s organically grown Double L Vineyard and select vineyards throughout the Santa Lucia Highlands and northern Monterey appellations. Gianni likes to make wine and he loves to make wine better.
In 1996, Dan and Donna Lee invested in their vision, purchasing and planting a 65 acre property in the northern end of the newly named, still not well known Santa Lucia Highlands AVA. Of all of the places they could have selected to establish a new “Premier Cru” estate, this site was to prove most perfect. Named the Double L (Double Luck, in honor of twin daughters), today this vineyard is one of the most famed winegrowing properties in California. A living laboratory, the organically certified Double L Vineyard boasts 20 different clones on 8 different rootstocks. It is the source of Morgan’s two most highly awarded flagship releases; the Double L Pinot Noir and Double L Chardonnay. The first plantings were in 1997. At present, the vineyard consists of 48.52 planted acres: 27.99 acres planted to Pinot Noir, 18.45 acres of Chardonnay, 1.06 acres of Syrah and 1.02 acres of Riesling. The first crop was harvested from Double L in 1999. The close proximity of Monterey Bay’s cold, deep waters influences everything we do. Ocean fog provides a nighttime blanket for the vineyards. In the afternoons, rising hot air in the warmer, southern end of the valley draws in cool breezes off the Bay. The strong winds keep temperatures down and thicken grape skins, fostering intense flavor with balancing acidity. Slow, gentle ripening lasts four to five weeks longer than most regions in California; lack of damaging harvest rains extends the crush safely into the fall. The result is fully developed varietal character in every grape. The Double L Vineyard slopes from 150 to 550 feet in elevation. Average summertime temperatures are in the mid-70’s, with lows in the mid-50’s. When Dan and Donna purchased the Double L Property, the soil was weak; it lacked nutrients and organic matter. Dan wanted to set himself apart from other winegrowers, so he chose to build-up the future vineyard soil organically. In 2001, Double L became the first and only Certified Organic property in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Monterey County Certified Organic, accredited by the USDA, certifies the Double L Vineyard as an organically farmed property. The Santa Lucia Highlands is an ideal location for organic winegrowing. The strong winds and temperate climate are natural deterrents to many vineyard pests. The most prevalent threat is mildew, and there are a number of organic options which keep it in check. Effective organic options are used to keep the vineyard soil alive and healthy. Four times each year, compost tea is applied through the drip lines in the vineyard which provide micronutrients and microbes for the soil. Each fall, after harvest, a cover crop is planted. The mix of vetch, barley and peas works all winter adding nutrients, such as nitrogen, to the soil while protecting against run-off and maximizing water saturation. In the spring the cover crop is incorporated into the soil, adding essential organic material. The Double L is also “Certified Sustainable” by the Central Coast Vineyard Team. “Sustainability” is a “big-picture” philosophy and practice, taking into account every aspect of a vineyard’s operations: social responsibility, clean water, energy conservation, and maintenance of existing habitats are just a few of its components. The Double L is the only vineyard in the Highlands to achieve both Sustainable and Organic certifications.
Grape Varieties Planted
- Pinot Noir
- Syrah / Shiraz
- Pinot Gris / Grigio
- Sauvignon Blanc