We had a warm spring in 2017. The occasional morning frost was usually accompanied by temperature inversions allowing us to frost protect our vines on those cold mornings with wind machines rather than having to use overhead sprinklers. The winter rains had saturated the soils as well as filled our ponds, so we went into August with ponds that were almost full. Then, in late August and early September, midday temperatures in the vineyard soared to a record-breaking 110° F. The grapes weren't fully ripe yet so we decided to beat the heat by turning on the overhead sprinklers for up to five hours midday during the heat spells. We kept our fingers crossed that the water wouldn't cause rot in the grapes. The sprinklers lowered the vineyard temperature by a remarkable 20°F, making conditions bearable for the vines. The heat spells fortunately ceased after five days, just as we ran out of rainwater stored from the previous winter. We had no water left for a post-harvest irrigation, or even fire protection, which caused major anxiety when firestorms raged through Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino in October. Both Navarro and our customers were lucky as we were able to protect the delicate floral aromatics and avoid cooked flavors during the blistering heat.
Andres checking one of Navarro's five diesel pumps that we use to frost protect or occasionally cool our vines. During the 2017 heat spells all five were simultaneously pumping stored-up rainwater to reduce the temperature. Andy will be retiring, after almost forty years solving problems at Navarro, to manage his own ranch down the road.
A blue heron fishing in one of Navarro's ponds. We've stocked our largest pond with bass and bluegills. When the pond is low and the water shallow, many birds are frequently seen fishing, including blue herons, snowy egrets, golden eagles and bald eagles.
Fortunately, Gewürztraminer grape skins are tough and survived the sprinkling without rot. Grapes were harvested from nine separate blocks in early September and the juice was fermented and aged as separate lots in refrigerated French oak ovals. A cuvée was selected, blended and bottled after eight months of cask aging sur lie. Gold Medal winner. Best of Class.
A nearly empty pond. We capture rainwater during the winter storms and store it in several ponds. In the 2017 harvest we sprinkled our vines from overhead during severe heat spells to lower the vineyard temperatures and protect the grapes' fresh flavors.