What makes our wines and winery distinct is the location of our eighty-five vineyard acres that are draped across the gentle rolling crest of the Mayacamas Mountains some 2000 feet above the floor of the Napa Valley.
Our vines receive roughly 27% more ultraviolet light compared to vines in level vineyards on the surrounding valley floors; this breaks down as 9% due to the angle of sun relative to our south-facing slopes, 8% due to being at higher altitude, 8% due to being above the fog layer and 2% due to not having morning and afternoon shadows from adjacent hills and mountains. Having more light on the grapes results in tannin and phenolic anti-oxidant levels in our red grapes that are measured to be roughly 25% higher than red grapes in the surrounding valleys; this is the main contributor to the broad-shouldered “mountain character” our red wines possess. Although we receive a lot more sunshine, we are on average about 10% cooler than in Rutherford on the floor of the Napa Valley (as measured by something called “growing degree days”). In the summer and early fall, we start each morning quite warm (between 65 and 75F) but have relatively cool afternoons (between 80 and 90F), averaging only a 15F difference between the morning low and the afternoon high; this can be compared to a 40F diurnal temperature swing in the Napa Valley. So although we produce boldly-structured and boldly-flavored reds due to all the sunshine on our mountaintop, the fruit does not ripen faster than in the valleys and we are able to maintain nice acidity levels and varietal character through to harvest. Surprisingly, the soils in our vineyards are relatively deep despite being on the very crest of the Mayacamas Mountains. Our volcanic loam soils are rich in clay and we receive a lot of winter rain, averaging 65 inches each year, which is roughly double that in the surrounding valleys; in some winters, we can exceed 100 inches of rain. So our vines really like to grow early each growing season and one of our main viticultural challenge each vintage is to control any excess canopy vigor. Once the growing season progresses and the soils finally dry out, any water we place on the vines comes entirely from our three ponds that collect winter rain that would otherwise have flowed to the ocean. Dripping winter runoff back into the watershed in the summer is a net good for the ground-water health within our watershed.
We are blessed with an amazing growing site that also happens to be beautiful. We encourage you to walk around our property during your next visit and to form a direct visceral connection between the interesting growing conditions on our mountaintop to the wines that you taste out of bottle.