Vineyard Update from Viticulturist Ryan Decker "The 2023 growing season is finally underway at our…
Despite a downpour of rain and even a glimpse of snow in the Stags Leap District, we’ve had a wonderful winter season here at Clos du Val. Luckily, our vines are still dormant, so this cold weather isn’t hurting them at all. In fact, we are incredibly thankful for this rain – it makes an enormous impact in replenishing our vines as we prepare for the 2023 growing season. We have also been delighted to see our vineyards brighten up with rows of mustard bloom, plus we welcomed some cute critters in the vineyard that have been so fun to watch roam (and prance) around!
Vineyard Update from Viticulturist Ryan Decker
“In the dead of winter, our expert team of vine surgeons bundle up and begin one of the most important tasks we do all year – pruning! The majority of now-woody shoots that grew last year are precisely trimmed down to either two-bud spurs or 8-bud canes. This annual haircut benefits the vine (and vintner) in many ways. By keeping the vines short and contained to a trellis system, we are able to optimize conditions around the fruit, such as light and temperature, for our enological endeavors. It’s all about balance – removing too much growth can result in vigorous vines without much fruit, and not removing enough will leave us with a jumbled mess of clusters and shoots. Each and every vine has its own balance, and it’s up to us to find it!
Besides people in parkas carrying sharp objects, you may also see another type of wool coat around our winery this winter – sheep! About 30 wooly weeders have taken up temporary residence on our Hirondelle estate. Our vineyards are farmed without the use of herbicides, and rain-soaked soil is about the worst place to drive a tractor, so we brought in these cute little critters to give us a hand. Sheep have a voracious appetite for just about anything green, they are small enough where soil compaction isn’t a concern, and their only byproduct is, well…..fertilizer. Grazing livestock amongst your permanent crops is far from a new idea, but has fallen out of fashion in the last 100 years or so in favor of cheaper, easier ways to manage your vineyard floor. Improved soil tilth and increased soil organic matter are a few of the benefits that come from incorporating animals into your cropping system. To be truly regenerative in your approach to agriculture, grazing should be a part of your long-term farming plan.”
Cellar Update from Winemaker Carmel Greenberg
“This season, we are thrilled to release the 2021 vintage of our classic Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. This is an extremely exciting release for me because it is my first red wine release as Winemaker at Clos du Val. We had low yields in 2021, but the quality was high, with concentrated and structured wines full of complex aromatics. This Cabernet Sauvignon blend is supported by all the main Bordeaux varieties – Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot – which contribute to the complexity, vibrant fruit, and richness of the wine.
We are also excited for the return of our lovely Rosé of Cabernet Franc, our first release from the 2022 vintage! Hand-crafted from 100% Cabernet Franc, we allow the grape skins to soak for about 6 hours to achieve its beautiful salmon pink color before pressing the juice and fermenting it cold to retain its fresh aromatics. The wine is bursting with vibrant citrus tones of blood orange, grapefruit, and mandarin.
In the cellar, we are tasting through all our 2022 red wine lots that have been resting in barrels for several months now. It was a large harvest for us, and we have a lot of wines to rate and evaluate and to choose the best lots for the future blends. But my favorite tastings are going through our Sauvignon Blanc lots, tasting the different tanks and evaluating the barrel fermentations. They are delicious!”