Weaving Trails and Whispers of Wildlife

Up the Wildlife Corridor


Last Tuesday I had the privilege of joining our viticulturalist, Mr. Lucas Pope, and Dave (who’s Lucas’s dad) on an exploratory and revelatory journey through the adjoining property once owned by Dr. Curran.  If you are familiar with our vineyard (here’s a map if you are not) the old Curran property runs along the northeastern edge of our plantings, just beyond Blocks 22 (Syrah) and 52 (Grenache, Carignan).  It plays home to some incredible vantage points with expansive views west toward the coast range, north toward the pinnacles, southwest over Halter Ranch Vineyard, and east toward Adelaida Cellars and Paso Robles proper.  


Lucas and Dave and the Sun


Pictured above is the sun (always hogging the spotlight) along with Lucas, Dave, and our vehicles. This was my first time piloting a quad so my compatriots subtly and very considerately placed me between the two of them while driving the trails to insure I did not become stranded, lost, maimed, or eaten by wild things (we were headed where wild things are, which is a wonderful place ‘ ).  The neighboring properties are woven with dirt access paths designed for small off-road vehicles so we were able to follow the ridgeline to each vantage point for viewing, photographs, and discussion.  It should also be noted that when we began our journey it was 28 degrees Fahrenheit and each of us was bundled to near unrecognizeability (if you have a facebook page, here is a self portrait taken that morning).


See Turkey Run


Within moments of reaching the ridgeline trail we came upon an impressively large flock of (50 or more) wild turkeys.  They ran parallel to us for about 100 yards before swooping down a slope to fade among the oaks.  During this first stop we were able to clearly see the Coast Range running north and west of us beyond the Dubost Ranch and Ramage Property.  Immediately north lay Camp Roberts and beyond that it was possible to see Pinnacles National Monument just rising out of the winter haze.


Looking Toward the High Point


Moving on from the initial crest we followed the edge of the Curran property along the ridge toward the hilltop pictured above.  En route we caught sight of 12 or so wild boar running along the range of hills opposite our position.  Though I’ve seen evidence of their rooting around the edges of the property in my 3 1/2 years at Halter Ranch, this was the first time I’d ever caught a good glimpse of the tusked rooters themselves.  From the second vantage point we looked directly down upon the sparkling, coot-filled, Halter Ranch irrigation pond and the backside of Block 22 Syrah.


Looking Out From the High Point


Neighboring Ranch and Pinnacles


Inversion Layer and Sun


As we discussed in a previous post, cool air tends to settle at the southwestern end of the Halter Ranch property.  In the photo above you can see the inversion layer very distinctly in the line between cooler misty air settled around the various peaks and the warmer, clearer air above.   At this height the temperature was noticeably higher, the grass and undergrowth were blanketed with sparkly dew  in contrast to the layer of frost beginning lower down the slope.


Winery from Afar

HRV from Lion’s Throne


Hastings Ranch from Lion’s Throne


Our next stop was Lion’s Throne, a lofty  peak directly above Block 52 Grenache, named for the high population of Puma concolor in the immediate vicinity.  From this point we were able to see Hastings Ranch Vineyard to the northeast and the entirety of the Halter Ranch and Tablas Creek properties to the southwest.  It is clear from this vantage that the entire expanse of land in this direction was once one property.  The thought inspired a warm neighborly feeling and brought a smile to my chilled face.  No lion sightings on this trip, though on our way back down the hill I caught a glimpse of one of the Golden Eagles who roost on the rock outcroppings nearby as it flew above.


Whence We Came


Mistletoe and Oak


Each time I venture to a new portion or new vantage of the HRV property I feel as if I am a deep sea explorer graduating into new and unplumbed depths.  There is so much to see and experience here, I am simultaneously overwhelmed, inspired, and absolutely elated.  Expect more explorations and a return to experimental food pairing posts soon.  As always thanks for reading and immense holiday cheer to all!


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