This year our Table Wine blend includes grapes grown outside Mendocino. Navarro has planted multiple grape varieties, which ripen at different times, to spread the risk of total crop failure if adverse weather hits at a critical point. 2012 was the first time in the last four decades that Navarro seemed to have a promising crop for each and every variety. We're embarrassed to admit that it put us in a complacent mood. Chardonnay is one of last grapes to ripen at Navarro and when we began harvesting this variety, we found that the clusters were much smaller than expected and our crop estimates for Chardonnay had been far too optimistic. Oops! Trying to line up quality Chardonnay in October is no small feat because of a continuing wine-grape shortage in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties. Jim spent several days on the phone as well as driving around in his pickup truck soliciting Chardonnay.
Testing Chardonnay grapes that have just been delivered to the winery. We work long hours during harvest; an ideal way to lose weight except if you eat grapes all day and share in the hearty employee harvest midday meals.
Jim Klein, Navarro's winemaker, and Casey Hartlip, vineyard manager at Valley Foothills Vineyard. We've been purchasing grapes from this neighboring vineyard every year since 1978. Two of the three Mendocino wines in this year's Table Wine are from this excellent vineyard.
In the nick of time, he contacted a good vineyard near Forestville in Sonoma County, where a portion of Gary Nelson's 2012 crop was, as yet, unsold. The 2012 cuvée is a blend from three pickings grown in Mendocino vineyards plus the Nelson lot. Each was fermented in temperature-controlled tanks then racked to French oak barrels to age for ten months. This wine is a lovely marriage of two of the nicest appellations in the North Coast, giving off attractive apple aromas and a crisp lemony finish. The bargain price makes it even more beguiling, especially for a large gathering, and will show off your holiday ham or latkes. Silver Medal winner.