As you enter Napa Valley from the south, you are in Carneros, driving on the highway that runs right through the old Stewart Dairy property. To your left on the hill, are the famous “Oreo” cows munching grass, and to your right are the 20-year-old Sauvignon Blanc vines that are frankly becoming pretty famous. All those variables—wind, restrictive soil, clone, temperature, as well as the unknowns—have an effect on the grapes, resulting in wines with tropical, mineral, and elusive notes most reminiscent of France’s Loire Valley.
Growers Jim Fore and Doug Hill planted the vineyard for me, and it produced its first crop in 1999. I have worked with it ever since. Although of course there is vintage variation, every year has delivered a delicious wine, always a testament for me of the right grape variety growing in the right area.
2018 was a marvelous growing season. Beautiful spring conditions followed abundant rainfall in the winter, resulting in even fruit set. We couldn’t have asked for more ideal summer and fall weather--moderate temperatures throughout. The only two things that put me slightly on edge during harvest is anticipating hot temperature spikes or rain. Neither occurred resulting in long hang time, beautiful and balanced fruit that we could pick at our leisure. Harvest began roughly 10 – 14 days later than the previous vintages.
Production: Grapes arrive early in the morning and go directly to press. The resulting juice ferments at a cool temperature in stainless steel for two to three weeks with a yeast strain known to accentuate aromatics, freshness, and fruitiness. After fermentation most of the wine remains in stainless steel, while the remainder ages sur-lie in older cooperage. The sur-lie component provides a just the right amount of texture to the mouth.
As for the wine. Fresh, pale straw color. A kaleidoscope of aromas cascade from the glass, offering lemongrass, lime zest, honeydew, peach, and basil. Vibrant and mouthwatering flavors echo the nose and evolve in the mouth leading to a lively and refreshing finish. The wine is singing!
Allow me to make an announcement: 2018 for me is one of the vintages of the decade, and perhaps one of the very best in my 35 year+ wine career. Begin your journey with our first release from 2018.