Viticultural Record2022 Farming Practices
2022 The fourth year in a series of deficient rain seasons in the Napa Valley was highlighted by the remarkable resiliency of our estate vineyard, a temperate summer growing season, a prolonged record-breaking heat spike in September, and the fortunate absence of wildfire in the region—delivering a small but beautifully balanced crop at Vine Hill Ranch.
Through December 2021, we received only 50% of the average annual rainfall at Vine Hill Ranch and no measurable precipitation arrived during the balance of the water year. The low soil moisture, combined with viticultural efforts to promote an earlier harvest in case we faced wildfire, prompted an early budbreak in the vineyard. Despite a significant frost event in March, which affected a small portion of the vineyard, warm conditions brought forward ideal canopy development through the Spring season.
Sunny days and warm temperatures allowed for a relatively light crop to set in balance with the smaller vineyard canopies resulting from the dry soil profile. Two brief heat spikes in June resulted in a limited level of crop loss due to shatter, which further loosened cluster architectures that had been put in place to facilitate uniform berry maturation.
Harvest at Vine Hill Ranch was completed on September 13, and approximately 85% of the Cabernet Sauvignon crop had been delivered to the winery ahead of the record-breaking six-day heatwave that began on September 3. The heatwave delivered daily temperatures in excess of 115 degrees Fahrenheit, the likes of which the Napa Valley had not experienced in modern memory, which was detrimental to the remaining crop delivered after this period.
Our forest management efforts continued across the approximately 500 acres that set the boundary around the Vine Hill Ranch vineyard. We also addressed an additional 40 acres to manage the crowded understory in order to support the old-growth madrone and oak woodlands that rise to the tops of the Mayacamas range.
We harvested the first crop from hillside Block 5 (redeveloped in 2019) and from portions of Block 3 that had been redeveloped to Petit Verdot. Continued roguing of virus-affected vines is maintaining a virus-affected rate of less than 1% throughout the 70-acre estate vineyard, ensuring long-term sustainability that translates to heightened wine quality. Composting throughout the vineyard enriches the vibrancy of the rich gravel loam soils, while select cover crops provide both needed tillage and stability from erosion through the next rainy season. Four new honeybee colonies enhance the population of pollinators at Vine Hill Ranch.