2015 FARMING PRACTICES On the heels of the celebrated 2012, 2013 and 2014 growing seasons, 2015 followed suit. Though considerable rainfall was delivered in December 2014, warm and dry conditions throughout the balance of the rainy season resulted in early bud-break at Vine Hill Ranch.
Despite minimal frost pressure through March and April—a critical period for canopy development—cool conditions in May resulted in a prolonged berry set that delivered potential variability to the winegrapes, necessitating a high level of green-thinning to ensure desired uniformity at maturity.
From March 15 to August 15, we logged 2,453 growing degree-days in 2015, compared to 2,223 in 2014, 2,204 in 2013, and 1,973 in 2012. This warmth kept the growing season on an advanced schedule, with our extended harvest seven to ten days earlier than last year. Significant heat in September brought the remaining crop to desired maturity, delivering a low-yield crop of phenomenal quality.
In the field, we grafted our benchland Block 3D to Cabernet Sauvignon and the highly anticipated hillside Block 1 vineyard planting showed a very successful “third leaf.” The redeveloped portion of hillside Block 6 benefited from our viticultural practices, and we anticipate winegrapes of exceptional quality from this remarkable site.
Lastly, 2015 marked the passing of our mother, Alex Phillips. Her father, Bruce Kelham, purchased the Vine Hill Ranch property in 1956, and her passage moves the gift of stewardship from the second to the third generation of our family.
The Napa Valley Grapegrowers (NVG) has announced that the Phillips family, longtime winegrape growers in Oakville, has been selected as the 2011 recipient of the prestigious Napa Valley Grower of the Year award. This is the first time that a family, rather than an individual, has been chosen for this distinction.
Bob Phillips was an early president (1984-86) of the NVG and one of the true pioneers of the organization. He participated in a significant way in many foundational industry successes, from the definition of the Napa Valley’s appellated structure to the protections afforded Napa County’s rich agricultural resources. His wife, Alex, served on the board of the Napa County Farm Bureau, and was instrumental in the founding years and beyond at the di Rosa Preserve. Bruce Phillips, their son, recently completed a two-year term as President of the NVG, during which time he led the NVG in the areas of strategic development, marketing and industry partnerships, which will carry the organization far into the future. Bruce’s wife, Heather, is a Napa County Planning Commissioner and chaired the very successful 2009 NVG Harvest STOMP event.
“The Phillips family has quietly represented the best of what we as growers
hope to be. Their love of the land and dedication to the industry and community
is an inspiration to all of us.” —NVG PRESIDENT DAVID BECKSTOFFER
Each year, the Past Presidents of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers meet to decide Grower of the Year. They deliberate over nominations submitted by the NVG membership based on: a strong commitment to sustainable practices; recognized leadership in agricultural preservation; dedicated community focus, contributions to the Napa Valley community; and someone who actively promotes Napa’s reputation for the highest quality vineyards.
With over 550 members, the Napa Valley Grapegrowers has played a vital role in strengthening Napa Valley’s reputation as a world-class winegrowing region for over 36 years. Its mission is to promote and preserve Napa Valley’s world-class vineyards.