Just a few miles east of downtown Paso Robles, reside the rolling hills of Bootjack Ranch, Niner Wine Estates' original estate vineyard and olive grove. Purchased in 2001, Bootjack Ranch encompasses 220 acres, of which 148 acres are planted to wine grapes.
The sandy loam soils and chalky hillsides found at Bootjack Ranch provide an environment in which vines must struggle in order to grow. The growing season is long, with warm days that taper off into cool nights. A mid-summer day and night temperature swing of 50 degrees is not uncommon in this area of the Paso Robles AVA, and contributes to producing complex fruit with intense color and concentrated flavors.
At the time of purchase, 54 acres were already planted to Sangiovese, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a variety called “Chancellor.” Chancellor is a lesser-known hybrid grape that makes a simple, un-structured wine. As this was not the Niners’ aim, they decided to graft these vines over to something that made more sense for them and the region.
In searching for advice, they came to know and eventually employ Paso Robles grapegrowing guru Jim Smoot. He suggested they graft the Chancellor vines over to Barbera and Cabernet Franc, and convinced them that Sauvignon Blanc would be a good choice for Bootjack. As in Bordeaux, it thrives next to its red counterparts here in Paso Robles. Smoot knew full well the potential of Sauvignon Blanc in this region, as his own nearby vineyard produces high-quality Sauvignon Blanc grapes under the experienced eye of his widow, Treanna Smoot.
In 2001 the Niners more than doubled the size of the planted area of Bootjack Ranch by adding another 61 acres of vines. They expanded their plantings of Sauvignon Blanc, Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and chose Petite Sirah as a new variety. In 2005 another ten acres were planted, this time of traditional Bordeaux blending varieties Petit Verdot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Carmenère. These grapes provide additional options for winemaker Amanda Cramer to craft into blends. In 2010, the last 30 plantable acres as Bootjack Ranch were filled in with small carefully designed vineyard blocks of several different clones of Cabernet Sauvignon. Then, in 2012, carefully selected blocks of Barbera and Syrah were ripped out and replanted to Malbec and Merlot.
In total, ten varieties of wine grapes are grown here: Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese and Sauvignon Blanc.
In the spring of 2009, 350 olive trees were planted at Bootjack Ranch. Just as grapes thrive in the Mediterranean-like climate found in Paso Robles, so do olive trees. The trees add a beautiful element to the landscape, and in 2007, the Niners pressed the olives to make their first Niner Wine Estates Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. Each fall these olives are harvested and pressed to create the delectable extra virgin olive oil available in our hospitality center.