Why do some sites stand out and produce exceptional wine? When we plant a new field at Navarro, we usually amend and incorporate nutrients into the upper three feet of soil but the recommended amount of nutrients always appears minuscule when spread out on the field. With our Middle Ridge field, we decided to continue adding nutrients until the field looked more like our family vegetable patch. For this compact four acre field, we ended up adding two hundred tons of compost and a hundred tons of limestone, approximately ten times the recommended addition. When we mentioned the additions to other winegrowers, our extravagance raised eyebrows and elicited chuckles. We terraced the ridge so that the rows were lined up a few degrees off North; the sun would be directly overhead in September afternoons keeping ripening fruit in the shade during the hottest time of day. We selected two Gris clones that are noted for their quality, grafted onto a low-vigor, high-quality rootstock and the vines were trained on a state-of-art trellis. The Middle Ridge is Navarro's vineyard that is the most exposed to direct ocean influence, which moderates the afternoon heat during ripening season; a big advantage in warm or early-harvest years.
Pinot Blanc was discovered as a mutation of Pinot Gris in the nineteenth century. Pinot Gris remains genetically unstable and it's not unusual to see Blanc clusters on the same vine with Gris clusters.
When we first laid out Navarro's Middle Ridge vineyard, the outline reminded us of Italy. Consequently, we felt it was fitting to plant Pinot Gris (Grigio) on the upper half, and plant the lower half in Pinot Noir (Nero).
For whatever reason, every vintage from this block, including the first from four year old vines, has consistently produced exceptional (and Gold Medal winning) wines. We like to think that all that compost and limestone helped, despite the chuckles of neighbors. Crack open a bottle when you crack open the first Dungeness crab of the season. Gold Medal winner. Best of Class.
We avoid using any heavy-duty chemicals or sprays so there are a lot of little creatures living among the vines. We were surprised one day when, suddenly, a couple of jackrabbits scurried past us in the vineyard; then we spotted (and photographed) the bobcat that was reason for their speed.