In 1975, we planted 138 Muscat vines next to one of our fields of Gewürztraminer. We soon learned that Muscat à petit grains crops unreliably in viticultural climates as cold as Anderson Valley. Over the 20 year lifespan of these vines, we only had enough grapes to make a separate wine twice. The berries tasted wonderful every year and the two wines we were able to craft were exciting enough to convince us to plant more. In 1991, despite knowing the variety is finicky, we planted 2,136 Muscat à petit grains vines, enough for a separate bottling each vintage if we were lucky.
Everyone has fun when we're blending Muscat. We remember sliding down a slippery clay hillside vineyard in Beaumes-de-Venise one rainy summer day; perhaps we had drunk too much of their delicious Muscat. Although Hammer Olsen is a large field, it is divided into several smaller blocks by soil type or exposure. When soil tests revealed that the southwest block in Hammer Olsen had clay based gravelly soils, it affirmed our decision to plant Muscat.
Harvesting Muscat grapes when they are cold at night helps avoid astringency in the wine. The grapes are coldest at dawn. We begin harvesting about 3 AM under portable stadium lights giving the crew a six hour window to pick cold fruit.
What has amazed us is the widening respect this specific vineyard site has earned. A few years ago a well known wine writer asked why Navarro didn't bottle a vineyard designated bottling similar to the Grand Cru vineyards in Alsace. Ted replied that we hadn't identified a field distinctive enough and without missing a beat the wine writer recommended this Muscat field as Navarro's first Grand Cru. When Wine Enthusiast Magazine reviewed our 2007 Muscat last year, they commented that it was "becoming Navarro's best wine." Recently Dan Berger, a wine judge at the 2009 Mendocino County Fair wrote of the 2008: "Exceptional. Juniper/ginger and other spices, in a bone dry wine that is ideal for Japanese food. One of the finest whites I have ever tasted, and still a baby!"Gold Medal winner. Best of Class.