Acreage: Approximately 100 acres, 5 planted to Chardonnay, 2 acres to Semillon, 0.5 to Sauvignon Blanc, 0.5 to Viognier, 2 to Syrah, 24 to Cabernet Sauvignon, 3.0 to Cabernet Franc and 5.5 planted to Merlot.
Growing Region: Low 2
Soil Type: Shallow hillside clay and valley floor sandy loam
Cooperage: French Oak
The rigorous vineyard program begins with the soil. The Chardonnay vineyards are now more than two decades old, they were planted on rocky, sloping hillsides and the sandy loam valley floor. The red varietals; Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot, are all planted in shallow soil on the rocky hillside; one vineyard benefits from an eastern exposure, the other a western. The fruit for the Pinot Noir comes from the Carneros appellation in the cooler Southern part of the Napa Valley better suited for growing this varietal.
Throughout the growing season the vines are carefully monitored. Shoot positioning and leaf thinning done in June keeps foliage up an away from the fruit, this provides the proper ratio of sun to clusters, insuring ripeness at harvest. The vines are dry farmed, watered only when necessary during the summer months in order to keep the plants healthy. Cluster thinning reduces the overall tonnage to 2 to 2.75 tons per acre (half the normal average), this is done to concentrate flavor and complexity.
The decision to harvest is based on testing for pH and sugar balance and tasting for ripe flavors. The housestyle requires ripe fruit, usually picked at 23.5 and 24 Brix. The grapes are hand picked and sorted early in the cool mornings between 7-10 A.M. The fruit is put into half-ton bins so that it will not be crushed under its own weight. Within an hour after picking the white grapes are gently whole cluster pressed to minimize skin contact, which reduces the harsh phenolics. The red varietals destemmed and lightly crushed so that 20-30% of the whole cluster berries remain intact.