We got interested in experimenting with Pinot Noir in 1985 because Navarro's winemaker was writing his master's thesis on Pinot Noir clonal trials in Sonoma. Our daughter Sarah was five years old at the time. Here it is almost twenty years later and Sarah is writing her master's thesis on, yep, you guessed it, Pinot Noir. Her particular research is on tannin levels in Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. Interestingly the tannin levels in Navarro Vineyards' estate-bottled Pinot Noirs are among the lowest in California. During the eighties and nineties we expanded our estate-bottled Pinot Noir vineyards from 4 acres to 36. We chuckle at the term "estate." If you have had a chance to tour Navarro you might notice that our menagerie of chickens, sheep, llamas, pigs and dogs make the place feel more like a farm than an estate, but "estate bottled" is a legal term defined by the Feds as grapes grown on the vintner's own property or under his direct control. Now we have 9 different clones of Pinot on 8 different rootstocks planted in 14 estate sites; each site-clone-rootstock combination has a slightly differing flavor profile enabling us to craft a complex wine and providing Sarah and her academic advisor Dr. Doug Adams with reams of data.
Mark Turula helps manage the Pinot Noir vineyards next door at Ordway's Valley Foothills Ranch. We met Mark 30 years ago and we feel lucky each time we renew a ten year contract for his grapes which could allow us to label the wine Estate Bottled.
During the 2004 harvest our daughter worked on her research for a graduate degree in winemaking from the University of CA Davis. After a long day of crushing grapes Sarah spent her evenings in the lab measuring tannin levels.
We're pleased that after decades of research we're seeing the fruits of our labor: the wine is redolent with bright raspberry-strawberry-plum flavors integrated with a smoke and vanilla core from the 25% new Allier oak barrels. Gold Medal winner. Best of Show.
In 2002 the Pinot Noir vineyards were harvested twice. After a heat spell some of the clusters were ripe without a lot of flavor whereas less ripe clusters had not been softened by the heat. The squishy fruit was harvested by feel and kept out of this bottling. Notice that Navarro's Pinot Noir berries are tiny which increases the ratio of grape skins to juice but some of the smaller berries are seedless.