Phylloxera is a root louse that feeds on grapevines, weakening and eventually killing them. In 1982 a new biotype of the louse was discovered in Napa Valley which was killing vines that had been resistant to earlier strains. We crossed our fingers, hoping the louse wouldn't make it this far north, but by 1993 the lousy pest was found at a neighboring vineyard. We were faced with the stark reality that if we continued with Navarro's insecticide-free policy, our healthy Gewürztraminer vines would begin succumbing to the pest within a few years. We decided to plant additional acres so that when the old vines declined, we would have new fields planted with the best clones on newer, resistant rootstocks and we continued to farm without insecticides. By 2000, two of our new blocks of Gewürztraminer were in production and we then began replanting our oldest fields starting with East Hill and West Hill.
Hand-hoeing weeds out of a young vineyard; it's very hard work but we prefer not to use herbicides. The first grapes we planted thirty-five years ago were Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir, so those were the first varieties we planted when we expanded our plantings in 1994. Four second-generation fields, Peach, Apple, East Hill and West Hill, provided the best fruit of the 2009 vintage.
Daytime temperatures during harvest in 2009 were so hot that we began picking at midnight under floodlights to ensure that the winery received cold fruit.
We now have only one more block to replant and 2009 represents the first vintage where the blending trials to craft our Estate Bottled cuvée resulted in a wine made entirely from our second generation vineyards. The free run juice was fermented and aged, without additional winemaking fuss, for eight months on the lees in oak ovals prior to bottling. The fruit nurtured in the vineyard dominates with tropical flavors of lychee, ginger and citrus. Cold harvest nights insured good acidity and our cellaring regime in oak casks resulted in a dry, crisp, yet rounded wine with hints of yeast. Gold Medal winner. Best of Show.
Aging in oak clarifies the wine naturally. The wines are more intense due to less filtration and the extended lees contact adds roundness and hints of baked bread.