Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars
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As every home gardener knows, water is crucial to the success of any plant-growing endeavor. But in grape growing, the application of water – or irrigation – is the single most influential tool growers have to affect the desired outcome of a particular vintage. Too much water and the grapes will produce an insipid, vegetal wine; too little water and the wine will be overly tannic and astringent. It’s a fine line, and it’s one that Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Vineyard Manager Kirk Grace walks every day.
Talk to any viticulturist or vineyard manager today, and you’re as likely to hear about ecosystems and wildlife habitats as you are about rootstocks and clones. In the last two decades there has been a sea change in the way California vineyards are farmed. Today, viticulturists focus not only on the grapevines and the crop, but on the environment around the vineyard and adjacent habitat as a whole. The effect has been two-fold: more vibrant, natural ecosystems, and healthier vineyards.
If you read wine labels, one of the terms you’re bound to come across eventually is old vines. The implication, of course, is that old vines make better wines, but is this really true, or is it simply a romantic notion? Like many issues in the world of wine, it depends on who you ask.
If you ask Winemaker Nicki Pruss or Vineyard Manager Kirk Grace about the 2007 Napa Valley harvest, they might ask you “which one?” That’s because they both see 2007 as having two very distinct phases: before and after the intense heat spike of late August - early September. Kirk calls it the “two full moons harvest,” because both phases were clustered around full moons that occurred in late August and late September.
The old saying that “wine is made in the vineyard” is perhaps never more accurate than when it comes to managing the canopy — or green foliage — of a grapevine. Canopy management, a series of viticultural practices that occur between budbreak (in early spring) and veraison (mid-summer), is one of the winegrowers’ most powerful tools. By precisely controlling the amount of air and light that circulates and surrounds a grapevine, growers can affect photosynthesis, vine vigor, fruit development, and ripening, which in turn profoundly influence the character of a wine.
Estate Wine Library
Visit our Estate Wine Library where we share the original tasting notes from the winery as well as notes and comments from our winemaking team and collectors based on tastings over the years.