We decided to branch out in 1990. After successfully growing and producing Gewürztraminer wine for fifteen years, we were convinced that Anderson Valley is a prime site to grow the grape varieties of Alsace. Our neighbor, Valley Foothills Vineyard, had a field producing grapes that had proven difficult to sell, so we convinced the vineyard manager to graft over these vines to Pinot Gris in the spring of 1991. In 1993, the vines produced their first, small crop which we vinified in a French oak oval. When we tasted the wine in the spring we were charmed. We wanted all our customers to taste the results. To ensure that there was enough to go around we bottled it in 500 ml bottles. We didn't appreciate that this size bottle was virtually unknown in the USA, giving us two issues that we had to explain to customers: a new wine variety and a new bottle size. The odd size was problematic for our computer software as well.
Josephina Eligio operating the corking machine when bottling Pinot Gris. Josephina has worked at Navarro since she was a teenager and she can now operate almost everything in the winery. She has also raised five accomplished student-athletes in the Anderson Valley; two have already graduated from college.
Chip budding a vine to another grape variety. We've successfully changed grape varieties by chip budding and we've also used it to change clones in the same grape variety.
A few years later, both Valley Foothills and Navarro planted new Pinot Gris blocks, this time with the best clones and rootstocks. Both vineyards ride the crest of a hill. The block at our neighbors, which is farmed to Navarro specs, is referred to as VF Ridge, and the Navarro block, at 1,000 feet of elevation, retains the moniker old-timers used: Middle Ridge. This bottling is a blend of the two ridges aged sur lie in oak ovals. This time the bottles are all standard 750 ml and the luscious texture and mango-melon aromas promise to charm you, just as the wine charmed us twenty-two years ago. Gold Medal winner.