Fair Play Soil & Terrain
The Soil and Terrain of Fair Play
The terrain of Fair Play is made of sandy-loam, granitic soils that do not retain water well. They are porous and aerated from water percolating through them over the ages. These already stressful conditions are compounded by the fact that the AVA rarely receives over 40 inches of rain a year.
Many vineyards are planted on sloping hillsides and ridgelines, making drainage even more efficient. This allows for the maximum amount of sun exposure and is a defining characteristic of Fair Play’s terrain. Soils are very unfertile, but have enough minerals and nutrients to barely sustain vines.
The elevation of the AVA ranges between 2,000 and 3,000 feet above sea level. Vineyards planted at higher elevation enjoy a longer growing season. Certain varietals need this extra time on the vine to fully ripen. The growing season lasts between 225 to 250 days.
The AVA’s high altitude and cool nights can cause frost to be a problem in spring. Fortunately, the coldest air settles at lower altitudes. The most widely grown varietals in the AVA are Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. Rhone and Italian varietals have also found a home in Fair Play. These include Syrah, Viognier, Barbera, and Sangiovese.
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