Scroll down this page and you’ll see that we source fruit from many vineyards in addition to our own estate. Why do we pay for other people's’ grapes when we grow our own? Volume is one reason. Our 9+ acres of Cabernet Sauvignon simply doesn’t yield enough fruit to meet our demand. But the larger motivation is variety. Not just for the varietals we don’t grow here – like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – but different clones of the varietal we do.
What’s a clone? It’s a slight genetic variation, or strain, that occurs spontaneously in response to a vine’s environment. Nurseries isolate and replicate specific variations (“clones”) so growers have stable, virus-free plants that flourish in specific climates and soils and yield certain flavors and textures.
These differences in flavor and texture are precisely what we’re after. They give our wines nuance. To some extent, you can tease them out in the cellar – depending on how you ferment and age the wine – but real refinement happens in the vineyard. That’s why we take such pains to select the best sites and farm them for optimal flavor development. This involves controlling everything from irrigation and soil inputs, to pruning and cluster thinning. Of course, deciding when to harvest is the most important decision of all.
Reynolds Family Estate
Our 9-1/2 acre home vineyard sits in the shadow of Atlas Peak, just south of Stags Leap, where it enjoys cool breezes from San Pablo Bay to the south. The growing conditions here are ideal for producing big, rich, complex wines.
The vineyard was first planted it in 1996 using “bench grafted vines” which were quite new back then. With bench grafting, the plants are raised at the nursery for one to two years before planting. This cuts about a year off the vine’s development, allowing it to deliver usable fruit in its fourth leaf rather than its fifth.
The estate is planted entirely to Cabernet Sauvignon. We grow three clones – 337, 4 and Weimar – on two root stocks: 110R and 3309. The vines are trained in the double cordon method on a single fruiting wire and cordons trained to either side of the trunk. This configuration prevents excessive sunlight exposure so the sugars dont run up before the grapes get a chance to fully ripen. During the growing season we drop close to half of the fruit to select only the best clusters and keep the vines in balance.
We make but a single wine from this vineyard, our Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. Production runs between 1,100 and 1,400 cases, depending on the year.
Persistence Vineyard, which we also own, is a 20-acre property with 15 acres under vine. This property is planted to four Cabernet clones: 7, 191, 337 and 4; two Merlot clones: 3 and 181; one clone of Cabernet Franc: 1; one clone of Petit Verdot: 400; and one clone of Sauvignon Blanc: 1. All are on a mix of root stocks: 1103, 3309 and 101-14.
We make our signature red blend “Persistence” from this vineyard which is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot, 8% Syrah and 2% Petit Verdot. The Syrah we purchase from a number of different growers who we’ve worked with over the years. One such grower is Somerston whose 660-acre Preach Ranch lies above Lake Hennessy, straddling three of Napa Valley’s sub-appellations.
We also produce our Sauvignon Blanc from this ranch, made with the highly aromatic and structured Musqué clone. The vineyard expresses beautiful pink grapefruit and melon characteristics. We use a mix of concrete egg, stainless steel and wood barrels for fermenting. We look for a Sauv Blanc that is not too sharp or overly bright but rather round, creamy and complex. So we opt for extended time on the lees with stirring in all vessels. Only 400-550 cases of this wine are produced.
Annapurna Vineyard is in the Stags Leap District, where the Yountville Cross Road meets the Silverado Trail. Often referred to as a “valley within a valley,” Stags Leap is bounded on the east by the towering Stags Leap Palisades and to the west by gently rolling hills. The rock facade of the palisades reflects the heat of the sun onto the vineyards below, causing temperatures to rise more quickly than in neighboring vineyards. As afternoon draws to a close, the hills funnel the cool, marine air north from the San Pablo Bay through the SLD corridor. This cooling effect reduces nighttime temperatures, allowing the grapes to achieve an excellent balance of acid and sugar.
Annapurna is a long-term lease that we have worked with since 2001. The property is about 20 acres with 4 acres are planted with Cabernet Sauvignon and 3.79 acres with Merlot. The Merlot vines are cordon pruned and vertically shoot positioned. The Cabernet vines are quadrilateral cordon pruned and quadrilateral shoot positioned. The vines are 25+ years old.
We produce our Merlot and Reserve Cab Sauv from this vineyard which are both 100% Stags Leap fruit.
The Corrotto Vineyard, where we source grapes for both our Pinot Noir and our Chardonnay, has an excellent reputation for producing some of the best Pinot Noir that the Carneros AVA has to offer. The 25+ year old vines are a testament to successful grafting of clone 667 to St. George rootstock.
Carneros is the coolest, windiest and foggiest of Napa Valley’s sub-appellations. The intrusion of fog in the early afternoon moderates vineyard temperatures, providing just the right conditions for growing cool-climate varietals with crisp acidity and moderate sugar levels. Pinots from Carneros are praised for their crisp, tight structure and spicy berry flavors.
We make our Sonoma Coast Pinot from this vineyard and it is only a small release of 100-150 cases. We have not made a Sonoma wine on a consistent basis for about 7-8 years. We used to make 250 cases regularly but have not been able to source great fruit. We hope to be working toward a long term relationship with Chuck. This wine will be released this winter our 2015 Sonoma Russian River label.
Italics is a vineyard and winery located in the Coombsville AVA, just southeast of the city of Napa. What marks this corner of Napa Valley is its proximity to chilly the San Pablo Bay, which mitigates the temperature during the growing season. Italics never gets as hot as it does upvalley, or as cold as mornings up at Napa’s tallest peaks. Coombsville is all about hang-time.
Coombsville is surrounded by a partially collapsed caldera, the remnant of a fractured volcanic vent. The caldera’s half-bowl reaches some 1,800 feet in elevation and collects the cool marine air from the Bay. This also contributes to the long, slow growing season.
The vineyard consists of two opposite facing hillsides. On the Northern Hill, facing due south, vines are trained in the unique Scott-Henry trellis system which alternates vines vertically, one up, one down, and so on. This allows the fruit to be perfectly exposed to sun in both the morning and the afternoon and ensures excellent ripening conditions.
The Merlot vines are planted on 5BB and 5C rootstock. The Cabernet vines on 5BB, 5C, 1616, and 1103P rootstocks. Vine spacing is dense ‒ 6 X 3-½ ‒ yielding approximately 2,100 vines per acre. This puts additional stress on the vine; stress that yields fewer berries that are smaller in size. The resulting wine is intense and concentrated.
On the Southern Hill, a second planting contains 11 acres of Cabernet (clones 337 and 15), Merlot, Petit Verdot (clone 2) and Cabernet Franc (clones 312 and 332) planted on 101-14 and 3309 rootstock.
This is a relatively young vineyard that sits up on Atlas Peak and is just below the famed Stagecoach property and just across from Dalle Valle Vineyards. The property is 130 acres but only 20 are under vine. This will be one of Napa Valley’s new premier properties for sure. Only a few select winemakers have had the chance to buy the fruit from here and the bidding is always ferocious. The blocks we have contracted for are a Cabernet Sauvignon (clone 338) and Cabernet Franc (clone 327), both on 3309 rootstock. A second block of Cabernet (clone 412 on 3309 rootstock) offers different exposures.
The fruit from this property will make up our newest release, a Cab Franc-based wine called “Due Diligence” that will only be available to our best customers. The name is a nod to the crazy amount of work required to produce great wines with terroir.