The structure of Navarro's Deep End Pinot is determined by Navarro's hillside, ocean-view vineyards with their cool marine influence. In 1993, when phylloxera was discovered in Anderson Valley, we decided to expand our vineyards up the hill before we had to pull out and replant the lower vineyards. We enlisted the help of a French winemaker and as we were inspecting the potential sites he spotted a large fig tree which had been part of a homesteader's garden, planted about 1903. “When do the figs ripen?” he asked. “Early August,” we responded. He explained that if figs ripen in July or August, like in Southern France, perhaps we should plant Syrah or Mourvédre.
Jorge Montiel and Martha Solano removing leaves and unwanted clusters from buckets of fruit dumped by the pickers. We prefer to pick in the cool, early morning hours; fermentation begins more slowly when the grapes are cold and pickers harvest more when the temperature is chilly and there are no yellow jackets buzzing around the fruit.
An aerial view of Navarro's upper vineyards. The Pinot vineyards are outlined in red; straight lines within a field indicate different clones. Many of the clonal blocks are further subdivided by a change in rootstocks. We harvest these subdivisions separately and keep the wine as a separate lot all the way through the winemaking process; over the years we've gained a lot of knowledge about which clone-rootstock combos do well in Philo.
It made sense since we knew our figs in the valley floor ripen in October; it must be hotter up high we reasoned. Over the next few weeks a sensible soul suggested that we put a weather station in the hills to measure the temperature. We were startled to discover that the hill site was cooler than our existing vineyards, hence ideal for Pinot Noir. How come? What we hadn't figured was that the homesteader had made the ocean view site his garden because it was frost-free. Figs bud out and set a crop early; the late ripening figs at the valley floor really were second crop, after the unobserved first crop had been frosted off. The Deep End Blend is aged in our favorite French oak, 50 percent new, for sixteen months with eighty-five percent of the vintage from fruit grown up high in Garden Spot, Marking Corral and Middle Ridge; vanilla and toast with a strawberry-cherry core. Gold Medal winner.