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Brooks Painter
 
August 22, 2014 | Brooks Painter

Harvest has begun at Castello di Amorosa

Our Pinot Noir and Chardonnay harvest for sparkling wine is now complete, and early Pinot Grigio grapes have also been pressed and are now cold-settling in tank. Predictions of an early harvest have proved to be true, so we are preparing for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Muscat and dry-farmed Zinfandel to follow quickly into the winery.

Quality is very high, and we expect a stellar vintage in Napa Valley in 2014. Some varieties are yielding a bit light while others may come in a bit heavy. Cabernet Sauvignon (pictured above) looks great; Chardonnay and Pinot Noir yields are expected to be average, while Syrah and Merlot clusters are sizing up and will be at or above expectations. The cool weather over the last two weeks have given the vines a chance to recover from the summer drought conditions, and I am really excited about flavor development and acid profiles in the grapes. We want to extend the “hang-time” a bit for reds, so that the skin and phenolic maturity reaches its peak before harvest. Given our current weather everything looks really good, and 2014 should be another excellent year!

Time Posted: Aug 22, 2014 at 11:37 AM
Alison Cochrane
 
December 26, 2013 | Alison Cochrane

A Look Back on the 2013 Vintage


2013 has been an incredible year for the vineyards of the Napa Valley, with the Napa Valley Vintners calling this year's growing season "early, even, and excellent." The 31 acres we have planted around the Castello with SangioveseMerlotPrimitivo, and Cabernet Sauvignon developed beautifully over the course of the year, and we loved tracking the beauty each season brought to the vines. Now that another record year in the valley is coming to a close and the vineyards again lay dormant, we're looking back on the fruits of this year's labors. Here are a few of our favorite vinyeard photos from this past year:

January 

Sir Lancelot enjoyed playing beneath the dormant Primitivo vines in front of the Castello

February

The Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards above the Castello, pruned back to allow healthy new buds to begin forming

March

The vines began "weeping" in preparation for the arrival of new buds

April

Bud break arrived at the Castello in early April, and the vineyards quickly brightened with springtime colors

May

The warm, dry spring we had throughout the valley allowed for earlier bud break and perfect conditions for flowering

June

June saw the arrival of berries on the vines. 

The vines saw a bit of rain in a summer shower

July

The warm summer months allowed for an even ripening of the berries. Here a cool glass of Charonnday rests among the Primitivo vines.

August

The end of August saw verasion in the vineyards, as the berries began to ripen and change color.

September

Primitivo vines and berries in front of the Castello

The Merlot vineyards almost ready for harvest!

October

November

December

 

Cheers to the end of another fantastic year in the Napa Valley! We're looking forward to 2014!

Mary Davidek
 
March 15, 2013 | Mary Davidek

A Chill In The Air

This is the time of year when winemakers and vineyard managers start paying close attention to weather patterns.  Although long periods of extreme cold and sub-freezing temperatures can always cause distress in a vineyard; frost is particularly damaging in the early spring.  Once bud break occurs, spring frosts can kill the young shoots potentially destroying a crop.  If you visit wine country in early spring you may spot a few different methods utilized by vintners in attempts to combat frost damage.  Most preventative measures are expensive and vary in effectiveness, but, the financial loss of frost damage is extreme. 


The least utilized and possibly least effective is burning oil in a smudge pot.  The smoke and heat generated is hopefully carried over the vineyard by the wind forming a warmer protective blanket.  As the heavier cold air sinks, the warm blanket of air protects the shoots.


A solution that seems just as drastic but that has actually proven viable in some vineyard locales; spraying the vines with a fine mist of water.  As the water freezes it forms a protective layer of ice insulating the young shoots by trapping the heat, (think of an igloo or an ice cave).  Since Napa Valley’s Mediterranean climate doesn’t generally dip below 25 degrees Fahrenheit, this method shows promise as it is environmentally less invasive and more economically viable. A negative for using water is fairly obvious but worth noting: you are using water, which can be scarce or completely unavailable in remote vineyards.


The most common and visually the most obvious method in use can be viewed off Highway 29 and along the Silverado Trail.  What looks like windmills are actually wind machines, which move air over vineyards to keep the coldest air from settling on vulnerable, young shoots.  The heavier cold air mixes with the warmer air, being moved by the wind machine, creating a slight elevation in temperature which is often just enough to ward off frost as long as that temperature is above 28 degrees Fahrenheit.  However, I live close to one such wind machine and I see it as only partially effective.  While it prevents frost from developing in areas directly in the path of said turbulence, my personal observation is the outlying areas are often blanketed with frost.  Another fact to consider…..wind machines are essentially propellers that run on fuel so they can be expensive to run and the noise level can be extreme – especially in the wee hours of the morning when they are typically used. *yawn*


Does a foolproof solution exist?  Well, if you have an opportunity when driving in the valley, look to the hills.  It is rare to find any method of frost control on sloped vineyard sites.  Dense cold air naturally drains off the hillsides and settles onto the valley floor quite often rendering the hillsides unaffected by frost.


In this north end of the Napa Valley we are fortunate.  With the Mayacamas Mountains to the West and the Vaca Mountains to the East, some of the most prestigious viticultural land in the world has been created.  Castello di Amorosa’s Il Barone and La Castellana wines are crafted from Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards on Diamond Mountain, part of the famed Mayacamas range; above the fog line, drenched in sunshine and relatively unharmed by frost.
As we continue to progress in viticulture methodology one fact holds true – Mother Nature will always have the final word.
And with that my final word – Cheers!
Mary Davidek C.S., C.S.W.

Jim Sullivan
 
March 26, 2012 | Jim Sullivan

Spring is here

In many parts of the country, winter is still hanging around, but not in the Napa Valley and certainly not at Castello di Amorosa's vineyards where budbreak, the first emergence of shoots that will ultimately bear fruit, occurred earlier this week. Sangiovese showed it's buds first; Primitivo, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vines will budbreak next. Budbreak occurs when the vines wake from their winter dormancy and begin to show signs of life. Water drawn up through the extensive root system appears on the cuts made by pruning. This is followed by the emergence of tiny buds. Leaves eventually unfold- a fresh start to a new growing season.

Working in the vineyard is a labor of love. Pictured below is Mario Martinez, Vineyard Crew Leader. His gentle hands prepare the Primitivo vines for the growing season.


Mario Martinez tends to the Primitivo vines.

Jim Sullivan
 
August 6, 2010 | Jim Sullivan

6 1/2 Weeks

Veraison in the Vineyard:
Time to ramp up preparation for harvest

 

Veraison, or "the onset of ripening," is the time of year in the vineyards when those hard green grape berries we've been watching for weeks begin changing color and softening. It's natures producing a beautiful display of color in the vineyard as she delicately ripens the grapes. Once veraison sets, expect about six weeks until harvest begins.

The 2010 growing season started slightly wetter and cooler. March and April saw significantly lower average temperatures, a trend that continued well into May. June finished near historical averages. And in July, a pattern of onshore flows resulted in cool, foggy mornings in the Napa Valley. Due to continued cooler weather, it looks like harvest will be slightly later than previous years.

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes at Castello di Amorosa vineyards.

Expect about six weeks until the start of Harvest of 2010. A perfect time to enjoy Napa Valley.

Pruning the Primitivo block at Castello di Amorosa in the Napa Valley.

Jim Sullivan
 
July 14, 2010 | Jim Sullivan

Bien Nacido Vineyards



Bien Nacido Vineyards chosen "Vineyard of the Year" by California State Fair.

In January of 2010, Castello di Amorosa's 2007 Bien Nacido Vineyards Chardonnay was awarded Double Gold, Best of Class at the American Fine Wine Competition in Florida; it was the top Chardonnay of over 50 Chardonnay producers from around the U.S.

And now comes confirmation of the quality of the grapes that comes from this historic, vineyard-- Bien Nacido Vineyards of Santa Maria -- it won a the prestigious "California Vineyard of the Year" at this year's California State Fair. This award recognizes a California vineyard which has consistently - over several growing seasons - produced grapes that have contributed directly to wine of superior quality and marketability within commercial sales systems and among fine wine judges.

Congratulations Bien Nacido Vineyards.

Fog descends on Bien Nacido Vineyards near Santa Maria, California (Photo courtesy of Bien Nacido Vineyards)

Jim Sullivan
 
March 26, 2010 | Jim Sullivan

Spring is here

In many parts of the country, winter is still hanging around, but not in the Napa Valley and certainly not at Castello di Amorosa's vineyards where budbreak, the first emergence of shoots that will ultimately bear fruit, occurred earlier this week. Sangiovese showed its buds first; Primitivo, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vines will budbreak next. Budbreak occurs when the vines wake from their winter dormancy and begin to show signs of life. Water drawn up through the extensive root system appears on the cuts made by pruning. This is followed by the emergence of tiny buds. Leaves eventually unfold- a fresh start to a new growing season.

Working in the vineyard is a labor of love. Pictured below is Mario Martinez, Vineyard Crew Leader. His gentle hands prepare the Primitivo vines for the growing season.

Strong hands, gentle touch.

Budbreak in the Sangiovese vineyard.

Mario Martinez  tends to the Primitivo vines.

Time Posted: Mar 26, 2010 at 4:12 PM

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