2016 FARMING PRACTICES After enduring three successive years of deficient rainfall, the El Niño rains that fell in early 2016 brought relief from the prolonged drought, but lacked the intensity that we had hoped the rainy season would bring. That said, rainfall totals at Vine Hill Ranch returned to normal, recharging subsurface water reserves and topping off our reservoirs.
Temperatures during the winter months were unusually warm, leading to a frost-free period at bud break. The warm temperatures, combined with ample soil moisture, led to exceptional early shoot growth, requiring extensive thinning to ensure adequate air and light into the canopy. Warm weather through the May bloom period allowed our estate vineyard to set a uniform crop with even berry sizes and normal-sized clusters.
Canopy growth remained strong after berry set, with shoots and leaves completely filling the vineyard trellis systems. Extensive canopy management throughout the season achieved an ideal mix of shade and sunlight in the fruit zone, allowing the crop to mature while minimizing the effects of late-coming heat waves.
The month of August saw cooler temperatures prevail, which slowed the maturation process. The grapes developed complexity through a prolonged growing season that culminated in October, which brought warm and dry conditions ideal for bringing in the 2016 harvest.
In the field, we completed grafting a portion of our hillside Block 6. We also continued eliminating virus vines throughout older plantings in an effort to steward those blocks forward for another 10-20 years. 2016 also delivered our highly anticipated—and first meaningful crop—from hillside Block 1, a pre-prohibition vineyard site that we redeveloped in 2012.
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.