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Jon-Mark Chappellet, Director of Operations
 

Can Grapevines Swim?

To say that we’ve had a lot of rain in February is a bit of an understatement! Our total rainfall for this month is over 16 inches which equals of ½ inch per day for the entire month. Actually ½ inch of rain in a day is fairly reasonable but some of our storms have delivered 3-4 inches in one day. That causes problems, especially for those close to the Napa River. Here at the winery we escaped the worst of the flooding but vineyards just to the south of us were submerged in the swollen expanse of the river.

At the height of the flooding, huge areas of the valley floor looked like a lake with only the tops of the vine trellises poking through the muddy water. It’s wild, if not a little scary, to see mother-nature and geology in action. The rich alluvial soils which make up the valley floor come from the surrounding hills that can’t hold a 4 inch rain event when the ground is already saturated. In drier times it often seems like just another burdensome government regulation but our appreciation for the work that goes into vineyard erosion control plans increases during times like this.

flooded napa valley vineyards

With the most recent storms now behind us and with the return of sunny weather it’s amazing to see everything still here. Besides some debris caught in the vine wires and trellises it’s hard to even imagine that thousands of acres of vineyards were underwater only yesterday. The nice weather will allow the winter vineyard work to resume but it will be several weeks before anyone dares test out the soggy soils with a tractor or anything heavier than a work boot.

So far this has been a cool and wet winter but the buckeyes, Acacias and ubiquitous yellow mustard flowers remind us that spring is on its way and the grapevines will soon be waking up.

Time Posted: Feb 28, 2019 at 4:42 PM
Jon-Mark Chappellet, Director of Operations
 

Harvest Comes to a Close - Time to Make Some Wine

We are finally wrapping up the endless harvest. Sort of incredible that we are into the 2nd week in November and there is still fruit on the vine. Not only a long, drawn out harvest but also a huge one. Some of our vineyards gave us twice the fruit that we had originally estimated.

napa harvest

Photo by Rocco Studio

What a year, very cool but still no rain in sight. 80 degrees during the day and 40 at night, day after day after day. At this point though the vines are getting tired of waking up every day and going back to work on their crop. Time for them to take some time off and sleep for a few months.

napa harvest

Photo by Rocco Studio

We will harvest what still remains on the vines over the next week and then start our post-harvest fertigation and seeding of cover crops. I for one am looking forward to winter and all the changes that come with it. The grapes are now in Ted’s hands for him to start crafting wines from the raw abundance that this year has given us. 

So far the signs are good that there is another great vintage in the making. The long cool ripening of 2018 should result in wines that are very expressive of their variety and the greatness of the Stags Leap District. 

Time Posted: Nov 12, 2018 at 4:59 PM
Jon-Mark Chappellet, Director of Operations
 

Hirondelle House and Harvest Happenings at Clos Du Val

I often find myself thinking that once we get past our current project or challenge things will calm down and get back to normal. That may be true someday but for now accomplishing one task just means that we can start trying to catch up to the next one. Case in point, our new visitor center, Hirondelle House. We just wrapped up construction and all of a sudden we are in the middle of harvest. Fortunately for us we have a team here that can tackle the challenges of a new visitor center, deal with harvest while construction crews still swarm the site, pay attention to the budgeting process for next year and still find time to have a company BBQ and laugh.

Clos Du Val Napa Harvest

Photo by Rocco Studio

People often ask what we do in the slow season. Slow season? I haven’t experienced one of those yet but hope springs eternal and I’m looking forward to running into it when it happens. Did I say run? Maybe that’s my problem, I’m always running to catch up. Since things aren’t likely to slow down anytime soon though, we better enjoy the pace and enjoy what we do and who we do it with, as I do. Making great wines with a great team and welcoming our guests to Hirondelle House to share these wines really is our reward.

Hirondell House at Clos Du Val

Photo by Rocco Studio

I’m excited to announce that Hirondelle House is now open. We can’t wait for you to visit and experience our pride and joy.

Time Posted: Oct 5, 2018 at 1:52 PM
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