The Inaugural Napa River Terroir Project Launches!

Napa River Terroir Project map
The Napa River has been a source of agricultural bounty in the valley for hundreds of years, dating all the way back to the Wappo Native American tribes that used it’s tributaries as their water source.  Modern viticulture has certainly benefited from the rich alluvial soils that are carried in its current year after year, providing a mixed gradient of robust soil into the various soil types that permeate the Napa Valley.  Therefore the river has a wide-ranging influence wines that are made from grape varieties that are grown near its banks and influenced microclimates.

While there are already a few fine organizations that are working to restore, conserve or protect the river and its native habitats, we have yet to have come across a good survey of the terroir that is created by the river snaking down the valley. This Saturday 04/24/2010, we plan to change this with the very first Napa River Terroir Project.   Andrew Lazorchak (Twitter) of VineyardVlog, visionary of and my partner in this caper, said it best:

“Our goal is to take a  voyeuristic journey down the Napa River from Calistoga to Oakville.  As you know the Napa river is an element of the valley that bears consequence on the “terroir“.  We’d like to explore this artery of the valley, as we feel not much emphasis or discussion has been had about it with respect to terroir.”

As you can see from the map above, we are planning on making a number of stops during our 9 hour, roughly 10 mile kayak trip down the river.  We will be stopping at a number of wineries along the way and we’re hoping to add more before we embark at 9am Saturday morning.  Current stops include Tudal Winery (WineLog), Titus Vineyards (Twitter, WineLog), Crocker & Starr Wines and Round Pond Estate (Twitter, WineLog) and we thank these wineries for their participation!

Also participating in our harrowing inaugural journey will be Steve, The Lady, Seth Johnson (Twitter) and Jill (Twitter).  But we invite any winery, person or gang of peeps to join us as we take photos, shoot video, tweet, Facebook, Foursquare and GPS our adventures as we learn about the Napa River Terroir.  Much of this information will be gleaned through interviews with the vineyard managers of our gracious host wineries and vineyards listed above.

Not in town this weekend?  Follow our tweets as we battle the elements in wine country!

If you would like to participate, contact me at the links above or in the footer of this post, below.  We are also happy to encounter hecklers on bridges, in cars or even braving inner tubes.  Also, watch this space for more information…this adventure is rapidly evolving!  Our agenda will be posted soon.  Cheers!

*Final Map with Itinerary!*

Topics/Questions that we’re interested in discussing:

  1. What are the varietals planted along the river?
  2. What is the soil profile along the river?
  3. How is the slope/ alluvial flood plain?
  4. How are yields effected along the river.  Root vigor?
  5. Ripeness of varietals / fungus etc?
  6. Vineyard  feeling on terroir.  Is there an effect on the grapes?  What is your terroir?
  7. What would you plant there now if you could plant anything?
  8. Stories about the river – everyone I have spoke to thus far has a story about the river and I think these will be the most valuable.
  9. How does the river affect your water table throughout the year?
  10. What are your conservation methods to preserve the river’s ecosystem?
  11. Are you a member of any of the conservation groups or conservation certifications in the county or state? Why or why not?

References:

Andrew’s post at VineyardVlog

Andrew’s first recap at VineyardVlog

161-page on central napa tributaries and salmon spawning
Appellation St Helena Map
NVVA – Soil / Terroir
Speed of a canoe

SF Vintners Market: Tasting AND Buying!

San Francisco Vintners MarketEvery once in awhile–wait, scratch that. Every few months it seems now, someone comes up with something exciting, new and innovating in the world of wine.  In this particular case, that new and innovative wine thing is a brand, spanking new wine event format!  The people that have been slinging the wine juggernaut known as Wine 2.0 (Twitter) for years are now behind the inaugural event known as the San Francisco Vintners Market.  Just why is this event so amazing and different from the many wonderful wine events that are held at Fort Mason in SF each and every year?  Well…just read a little further why don’t you??

Cornelius Geary (Twitter) and cohorts have come up with another winner because they’ve overcome one of the most perplexing and irritable aspects of just about every wine tasting event that I’ve ever attended…you can’t buy the wine you taste!  Happily, that problem is now a thing of the past and their solution is the core tenet to this new series of wine events.  Any wine that you taste at the SF Vintners Market can be purchased on the spot and taken home to be enjoyed at home.

So join me and my favorite vinopanions next weekend at the Market and enjoy wines that you can taste and immediately buy from over 150+ wineries from all over California’s many wine regions.  Indeed, I even have a special discount link for all of you readers!  Click my link to use the discount code “10bucksoff” and receive 10 dollars off either of the two entrance fees!  All of the necessary info is below and I look forward to seeing you at the event!

The Inaugural San Francisco Vintners Market

04/10/10 & 04/11/10

Noon to 5pm

Fort Mason Center, San Francisco CA

Discounted Tickets!

Trefethen 2009 Oak Knoll District Fallow: "Bottled Estate"

2009 Trefethen Oak Oak Knoll District FallowThe French have been rattling on and on for years about their winegrowing concept of “terroir.”  Ostensibly, it means a “sense of place;” whereby you gain a sense about the climate, soil, water, air, sun and just about everything else that helps to grow the grapes in a particular region. While I also believe this to be true and the source of the winemaker phrase “winemaking begins in the vineyard,” I’ve been frustrated by what I’ve viewed as the continued inability to truly bottle the terroir of a special vineyard.  A white Entre-deux-Mers that tastes slightly salty because it’s next to the sea?  Sure, but then a whole lot of other vineyards around the world are near the sea, too!

2009 Trefethen Oak Oak Knoll District Estate FallowWell those frustrations can be tossed aside, as Trefethen Family Vineyards in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley has finally answered my call for a bottle of true terroir!  Their new release, the 2009 Trefethen Oak Knoll District Estate Fallow is a field blend from their Fallow vineyard, right there on the Estate!

This wine is a true field blend, made up of the varietals Nitrogen, Oxygen, Argon and other trace elements.  It has an almost ghostly quality to it, full of air and sunshine and just makes one think of dancing around in the mustard in a vineyard in Napa right now!  They’re releasing this wine to the public today and you can find out more about it in their video below.  Cheers!

Fallow from Trefethen Family Vineyards on Vimeo.

2009 Trefethen Oak Knoll District Estate Fallow

Below are some links to other great wines that I’ve had in the past from this family estate.  Enjoy!

Trefethen Oak Knoll District Estate Chardonnay 2007

Trefethen Oak Knoll District Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Trefethen Oak Knoll District Library Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2002

Trefethen Oak Knoll District Estate Dry Riesling 2008

Trefethen Family Vineyards Double T Napa Valley Red Wine 2004

Trefethen Cabernet Sauvignon 2003

Trefethen Vineyards Oak Knoll District Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1999

Trefethen Vineyards Oak Knoll District Estate Cabernet Franc Blend 2001