We're not certain if we run our vineyards or the vines run us. Grapevines do grow in the wild, wrapping their tenacious tendrils to the top of towering laurels along stream banks, which always gets us wondering about what bird or animal deposited a wild seed of these dioecious plants. Domesticated vines, which have male and female parts on the same plant and are bred from cuttings, developed a codependency with humans thousands of years ago. Our guess is that the magic of fermentation is what persuaded us humans to put up with the grapevines' finicky demands. During spring we are constantly playing catch up with our vines: removing weeds, cultivating alternate rows, frost protecting, suckering, introducing beneficial insects to chomp down pests, tying and training, irrigating, fertilizing and thinning... and that's before we even get around to picking and making the good stuff. But Navarro's Première Reserve Chardonnay is the good stuff. It comes from vines which we have been hovering over protectively since 1979.
A symbiotic relationship should benefit all. As an alternative to herbicide, Navarro mows weeds underneath the vines with two hydraulically operated weed-eaters. The tractor needs to be driven very slowly and very carefully since weeds under two rows of vines are mowed simultaneously.
Wild grapevines may climb high but their crop is unpredictable.
The majority of the grapes were grown in Navarro's Hammer Olson field, named for a valley homesteader and the grapes display ripe apple flavors. Most of the rest came from the vines stretching out from the tasting room deck and the grapes are redolent with citrus and pear blossom. We fermented the juice in our best and newest French barrels. One sip will help you understand why humans let grapevines run their lives. Silver Medal winner.
This spring's late rains have made it hard for the vineyard crew to keep up with the suckering.