Lava Block

A Story of Passion, Persistence and Impulsivity


42 years ago, I impulsively purchased 300 acres of land 1500 feet above the town of Sonoma in the Southern Mayacamas mountains.

In walking the property for the perfect place to plant a vineyard, we found two sites: one close to the road we built and one at the farthest western corner of the property; 14 acres covered by wild oats.


We chose the former for its accessibility and ceded the latter, rent free, to a herd of cows who lived there contentedly for 20 years. Until 2008.

Motivated by the same impulsivity and cheered on by our go for broke winemaker, Mark Herold, and our ever cheery viticulturist, Phil Coturri, I evicted the contented cows and planted what is now LAVA BLOCK.


This parcel of the property has near perfect south-south west exposures, and a slope that guarantees excellent drainage. We called it THE LAVA BLOCK because that’s what it is.

There is no soil, only large chunks of lava, the residue of a volcanic eruption millions of years ago when the entire Southern Mayacamas was under six miles of water. The lava hit the water and shattered. And remained that way for millions of years, as the waters receded to the Bay, and a field of wild oats sprung up.


More prudent people would have calculated the time, the cost, and the sheer illogic of establishing a vineyard in this inhospitable landscape. But prudent people do not grow grapes in the mountains.

Passionate people do. Persistent people do. People who know the extraordinary, singular wines a site like this will produce. Which, after ten years of nurturing this unique, extraordinary vineyard, is exactly what we have achieved.


That’s the Brief History of LAVA BLOCK.
The rest of the story is in the bottle!


Robert Mark Kamen