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Viticultural Record2023 Farming Practices

2023 Abundant rainfall provided a welcome relief to the prolonged drought that had persisted for the prior five seasons, delivering much-needed moisture to the entire state of California. Reservoirs across the state, which were at roughly 30% capacity prior to the 2022–23 rainy season, emerged at capacity along with a record-high snowpack in the Sierra Nevada.  

The ample soil moisture and cool spring season resulted in a delayed onset to the 2023 growing season, with budbreak occurring two to three weeks later than average. Sizable canopies developed through a frost-free season, and the crop set without incident.

Despite record-high summer temperatures across much of the United States, the Napa Valley enjoyed a remarkably temperate season, with no significant heat spells throughout the growing season. The temperate conditions, combined with the plentiful nutrients released by the saturation of the soils, led to record-setting crop yields across the vineyard.

In an effort to ensure an appropriate level of balance, significant thinning was performed, dropping approximately 30% of the crop to the ground in order to advance complexity and character and promote desired maturation.

Harvest at Vine Hill Ranch took place September 19 through October 16, a four-week period that was noted for its idyllic conditions unmarked by significant heat or rainfall. The extended season provided ample flexibility for the crop to achieve desired maturity in order to facilitate resultant wines of tremendous complexity and site expression.

Thankfully, 2023 was absent any wildfire in the region due in large part to the amount of rain, the temperate conditions, and the efforts of landowners to manage forest understories and accumulated fuel loads.

The removal of 8 acres of Vine Hill Ranch’s benchland vineyard was completed to address the introduction of Red Blotch virus from a neighboring site. While a significant loss, the vines’ removal has been effective in mitigating the risk of further infection to the balance of the vineyard. Continued rogueing of virus-affected vines throughout the vineyard maintains a virus-affected rate of less than 0.5% throughout the 70-acre estate vineyard, ensuring long-term sustainability in the interest of heightened wine quality. 

Composting throughout the vineyard enriches the vibrancy of the gravel loam soils at Vine Hill Ranch, while select cover crops provide both needed tillage and stability from erosion through the coming rainy season. The propagation of additional insectaries, as well as the installation of bluebird, songbird, owl, and raptor habitats, will serve to augment wildlife diversity and support our integrated pest management strategy.