For the last 20 years Navarro has produced a dry white wine meant to be enjoyed young and fresh. Originally we sourced fruit from an old Chenin Blanc vineyard until the vineyard was sold in 2011. While looking around for a replacement we found a mature Pinot Blanc vineyard located at the Schrader Ranch south of Ukiah; we felt lucky since there are only 43 acres of this variety in Mendocino County. The wine quickly became a favorite in our house because of the crisp apple flavors and zesty, springtime freshness. Anderson Valley is the most logical place in California to plant this variety and we now had proof that delicious wine from this variety could be crafted in Mendocino.
Vineyard preparations prior to planting Pinot Blanc vines at Navarro Vineyards. Soil amendments, drain tile, drip irrigation mainlines and overhead sprinklers for frost protection have already been installed. The two inch round steel pipes are endposts for each row and the black tubing being tied to the post is connected to the drip irrigation mainline. The T-posts on the tractor's trailer are placed at nine foot intervals as line-posts for trellis support. The tall, thin stakes are quarter-inch rebar placed three feet apart; a few days later vines were planted next to each stake. In 2017, we will train the vine trunks up the rebar for a permanent trunk.
We decided to plant Pinot Blanc so, in 2014, we ordered benchgrafts from a nursery specifying two respected Pinot Blanc clones grafted onto a rootstock that had performed well at Navarro. In the spring of 2016 we received and planted 4,850 dormant, one-year-old vines. The first crop from this field is expected in 2019. In the meantime, we fermented Schrader's 2016 Pinot Blanc grapes in a refrigerated stainless-steel cask, then aged the wine sur lie in seasoned French oak barrels for four months. After a couple of tastings we decided to add eight percent Chardonnay to fill out the mid palate. Try it with a selection of cheeses, like those from our sister ranch, Pennyroyal Farm, as the bright but creamy texture of Pinot Blanc is a perfect pairing with Laychee and Velvet Sister. Silver Medal winner.