What happens to a vineyard when there is little demand for the variety? In Navarro's case, we had a field where the grapes produced good wine, but the quantity was more than our bottling requirements—the excess was always sold as bulk wine, unfortunately at a loss. About 20 years ago, we had a field of Chardonnay planted to FPS clone 4 —a popular selection in the 70's—that yielded large crops but not the best quality. We chip-budded over to a highly-rated Chardonnay clone, ENTAV 76, and we were impressed with the improvement in wine quality from that field. In recent years we've experienced increased demand for Pinot Gris grapes which are used in three Navarro bottlings—Pinot Gris
, Pinot Grigio
—as well as Pennyroyal's Pinotrio
Our plan was to chip-bud 30-year-old vines with large trunks, so when we were pruning Middle Ridge Pinot Gris in March 2020, we selected budwood large enough for chip-budding big vines. In May 2020, a field of 30-year-old vines was successfully chip-budded over to a good clone of Pinot Gris. The grafted vines were thriving in Boontling loam so we expect to have a full crop with mature-vine intensity of flavors within a few years. This bottling is a selection produced from grapes grown in three vineyard sites, fermented and aged seven months in temperature-controlled French oak ovals. Bright flavors, modest alcohol and low pH make this a perfect warm weather quencher. Gold Medal winner. Best of Class.
Converting an existing vineyard to Pinot Gris in May, 2020. (top) Salvador is cutting out a bud from a stick pruned from a Pinot Gris vine. The 30-year-old vine in the foreground has been decapitated so that all of the vine's energy will be directed to any existing buds. (left) Salvador has cut a slot in the vine's trunk and is inserting the Pinot Gris bud he prepared earlier, making sure to line up the cambiums. (lower left) After inserting two buds—in case one fails—they are tightly wrapped so that the bud is firmly in place. (below) The reborn Pinot Gris vineyard in September. We anticipate a modest crop in 2021.