In 1995 we decided to plant the crest of a ridge that the old-timers called Middle Ridge, and we continue to use that name to describe the vineyard now located there. After the field was laid out for planting, we discovered from the air that it's shape was surprisingly similar to Italy and that Fox Point, an adjacent field separated by a road, mirrored the correct position for Sicily. The original plan was to plant all of Middle Ridge with Pinot Noir but, being unabashed romantics in love with the wines of Alto Adige in northern Italy, we decided to plant the upper half of the field with Pinot Gris. We laid out the rows across the slope; the trellis would have an ideal row direction for the canopy to protect the clusters during September's sun, and the rows would be terraced minimizing erosion. The disadvantage to planting cross-slope was that it would triple the number of rows and each would be much shorter therefore increasing farming costs.
Alfredo pumping wine from oak ovals into a bottling tank. The pump has a flowmeter so that we can easily make the final blend by using the same percentage of each lot as the sample that impressed Navarro's tasting panel.
We prune our Pinot Gris vines in an arc, the same as they do in Alsace. Typically the middle shoots on a cane-pruned vine have the weakest growth and are inadequately short when the cane is horizontal. The highest shoots on the vine are the most vigorous, so by placing the weakest part of the cane in the highest position we promote more even canopy growth in the upcoming season.
Rows 72 through 95 were planted to Gris clone 52, known for producing rich texture and rows 96 through 121 were planted to Gris clone 53, which supposedly bears a heavier crop in Europe but hasn't proven true at this site. Ocean breezes keep it cooler up here than the valley floor, so the Middle Ridge grapes, which constitute 72% of this bottling, were the last Gris grapes harvested in early October. The wine's texture coats the mouth with flavors of a stone-fruit compote sprinkled with roasted filberts and hints of morel. Gold Medal winner, Best of Class and rated 95 points in the 2019 California State Fair.
Navarro's Middle Ridge Pinot Gris vineyard with Fox Point vineyard at the toe.