Perched high above Lake Hennessey in the Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates this mountainous site. Aerial views of this vineyard give an insider’s look to the intricate patchwork of blocks on steep hillsides and terraces. Some vines are so close to the edge, you wonder, how will this survive? And yet, they thrive. A good part of that success is the soil, the dynamic climate, and the meticulous farming at this high-elevation mountain vineyard.
|Appellation||Napa Valley, California|
|Aspect||Southwest and north-facing|
|Varieties||Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Chardonnay, Sangiovese|
Our soil story endures with the uplifting of ancient shallow seabeds, plate tectonics, and glaciation that continues over millennia with the erosion and transportation of old metamorphic rock created under intense heat and pressure. The present day chapter is set in a unique mixture of well- to excessively-drained sedimentary and metamorphic soils underlain by a bedrock of Franciscan complex. Silty clay loams with varying depths, mixtures of gravels, and fractured rock undulate among the steep slopes. The primary soil classifications are Bresse-Dibble complex, Maymen-Millshom-Lodo association, Shale & Sandstone rock outcrop, and Sobrante loam.
The site’s warmth is tempered by the interior range location with air flow from a variety of directions – Lake Hennessey, Alexander Valley, and the Mayacamas. This translates to lingering days of sun exposure that can quickly turn to blustery afternoons as well as earlier budbreak, an arid environment, and consistent growth. Everything that is a hallmark of quality mountain fruit.
One of the things we love about Sage Ridge is that, counterintuitive to conventional thought, the site can be cooler due to the elevation and airflow. Given the diversity in altitude and exposure, the unique meso-climate result creates harvests that can last 60 days. The high altitudes south and east facing have earlier budbreak than Rutherford while the lower altitudes and north facing come three to four weeks later.
There’s a rugged elegance to the various aspects and terraced hillsides with blocks ranging from 9x5 spacing to 4x4. With 32 acres planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, eight other varietals, and 65 individual blocks, this is site-specific precision farming at its most challenging with exposed peaks and ridges at nearly every step. An agronomist’s dream.