We originally planted Pinot Gris in an effort to diversify the grape varieties we grow. Since each variety buds out and matures at a different time, having a mixture of varieties helps weather the adverse conditions that Mother Nature tends to dish out. It also spreads out the work during harvest as different varieties are ready to pick at different times. Pinot Gris was a logical choice since it is a favorite variety in Alsace, the same region that inspired Navarro's Gewürztraminer. At Navarro we try to diversify more than grape varieties. We think a diversified farm helps us make better wine and promotes a healthier planet. At the top of Middle Ridge, where we have Pinot Gris planted, four livestock guardian dogs currently protect flocks of Babydoll sheep which we use to graze between the vines as well as reduce fire hazard in the hills. A chicken tractor is regularly moved around the vineyard. The manure from the sheep is mixed with grape skins and seeds in compost piles which are carefully turned and returned to the vineyard each year.
We make our own compost (lower left, rows covered in plastic) each year from grape skins and stems mixed with manure and straw from sheep bedding. Sheep graze on the balance of the South Ridge for feed and fire abatement; the greener areas are new grasses where the sheep have successfully removed the older dry grasses. We need to be careful that the young compost is a fair distance from the almost ripe grapes to avoid fruit flies and vinegar rot.
Pinot Gris after harvest (foreground). Adjacent to Middle Ridge are forests where redwoods, fir, oak and madrone harbor a diversity of wildlife: eagles, hawks, deer, mountain lion, bear, coyotes and bobcat to name a few.
100% of the fruit used in Navarro's 2010 Pinot Gris is Philo grown. The juice was fermented and aged in oak ovals for seven months, adding to the rich, yet dry, nutty flavors and the opulent texture. Diversifying our farm contributes to healthier vines, healthier soil and healthier streams. It hopefully promises that there still will be some delicious Mendocino salmon and crab for our children and grandchildren to enjoy with future Pinot Gris. Gold Medal winner.
Navarro has a detailed plan for minimizing erosion on our roads, vineyards and streams and this year we were recertified as a Fish Friendly Farm by national, state and county agencies.