Sunday, September 6, 2020

Drunk On Petrology - Furnace Creek Resort Merlot


The next up in our Drunk on Geology series is Furnace Creek Resort Merlot by J. Pedroncelli Winery.


Following up our trip to Death Valley National Park, is wine from the park itself, Furnace Creek Resort Merlot. Furnace Creek Resort is the "fancy" resort within Death Valley itself near the Furnace Creek visitor's center, which is the location for the Hottest Place on Earth.



The bottle itself represents the area of Death Valley National Park known as the Artist's Palette. The drawing is the artist Lynne Bolwell's interpretation of that scenic area (pictured below) with a little bit of the Artist's Drive included. You can find more of Lynne's work on her Facebook page, HERE


The formation of Death Valley itself and the wonderful colors of the Artist's Drive are inextricably linked. The valley was formed during the expansion of the western United States creating the region known as the Basin and Range province. Initially the United States was being squeezed by a large plate off the west coast known as the Farallon Plate. This plate was slide beneath North America while also pushing up against North America. Eventually most of that plate complete subducted (went beneath) North America. At that point the pressure was off and North America began expanding outwards like a squeezed sponge. This outward expansion produced a series of linear mountains alternating with linear valleys, the Basin and Range. This region extends from mid-Utah, through Nevada, and into eastern California. 

The wine was created by J. Pedroncelli Winery for the Furnace Creek Resort to sell. Text from the back of the bottle:
"Sourced from selected blocks located in northern Sonoma County, these vines are sustainably farmed on the natural terraces that flank the valley and rise gradually into the steep hills above the valley floor."
The expansion of the crust also thinned the crust. This thinning allowed magma to start leaking through and producing volcanoes in various places along the expansion region. These volcanoes eventually moved towards the east but not before producing volcanic eruptions including ash and lava. The rocks in this area specifically are heavily composed of that ash, which is rich in heavy minerals and elements like nickel and cobalt. When these heavy metal elements start to erode, they produce vibrant colors not typically seen in a normal sedimentary landscape. 
 Glory shot of the wine.

Taking a sample.

References

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