For a wine region based on tourism, the Napa Valley has a difficult vintage.
Let’s take a good look at what happened this year and how we can help. (PS: our favourite product is also one of them: wine!)
Napa Valley: Drowning forest fires with wine
In the Napa Valley, COVID-19 closed its facilities for 81 consecutive days. At that time, tourism recovered slowly (it decreased by about 55%).
When the Cabernet Sauvignon was finally ripe, a glass fire raged in the northern part of the valley.
We lost the property of our grandparents in a fire [year of construction 1929]. At the time, the ultra-modern wineries that dominated the area were particularly sad when one of the last examples of the old Napa valley caught fire – Vince Tofanelli, a winery owned by the Tofanelli family.
Smoke particles settle on the grapes and cause pollution.
The flames were not the only result of the glass fire. The vineyards that were spared from the fires were covered with ashes. Many wineries do not produce vintage because of smoke stains.
This is the first year since we started the Cabernet Sauvignon 1989 vintage that we didn’t make the basement.
-Fiona Barnett, Barnett Vineyards
Normally we would be in the middle of the harvest and crush them now, but due to the loss of the whole harvest this year we have no harvest, no grading, no crushing. We look forward to the arrival of sticky hands in 2021!
-Mike Lamborne, Lamborne family vines. -Mike Lamborne.
The road to recovery (and how to contribute to it)
Luckily, she’s not lost. The cellars in the valley have been reopened – they are trying their utmost to complete the year 2020.
For those looking for remote support, we have searched the OpenTheCellar website of the Napa Valley winemakers to find new wine discoveries worth exploring. If you haven’t had a bottle of Napa this year, now would be a good time.
Here are some good bottles and stories to quench your thirst. (See details for full information or buy the wine directly from the producer).
We chose this wine because… Well, because it’s Russanne! This ugly and peachy white colour is the basis of these rare white blends from the Rhone valley.
Particularly rare in Napa. This wine comes from a vineyard already planted in 1998 (when everyone planted Cabernet).
So you know we always talk about Merlot as a secret value in a place like the Napa Valley? Here’s a good example. This perfectly aged (and age-appropriate) wine was usually around $200 per bottle (if it was Cabby-Wabby). But because it’s just good old Merlot, nobody noticed!
We see you hiding in plain sight.
If you’ve seen the news, you must have seen the heartbreaking images of the burnt stone house of the Castelli di Amoros.
Well, if you love Sangiovese and the Castle (who doesn’t?), this is your chance to drink Sangiovese and dream about restoring the Castle.
Hunnicutt is a splash in the middle of Mount Spring and a straight path from Glasbrand. Your first trip back to the basement is a moment of reflection.
Despite the fires, their website is proud to announce that we are still standing!
We chose Luvisi Zinfandel Hunnicutta because it is the only wine that has been part of their history from the beginning. In fact, this cellar has been supporting winemakers’ dreams for over a century.
The Napa Valley is one of the few places where rich and fantastic blends of Sauvignon Blanc-Semilion are produced. This year we have included this blend in our wine buyer’s guide to 2020.
Interestingly, Groth is the first winery in the Napa Valley to receive an elusive score of 100 points. This is his first vintage of Blanc-Semillon Sauvignon.
Despite the cool appearance of the old vines, it is actually quite difficult to make money from them.
Gallika has taken over responsibility for the organic care of the old vineyard with all its peculiarities. Well done, well done.
For those who believe that good wine starts with excellent grapes, why not start with a producer who has been growing wine in the Napa Valley for decades. And they do it in a sustainable and organic way.
The wine of Tom Farrella is not known for its pompous qualities. This producer focuses more on the Napa style, which was once known in the seventies and early eighties.
This year, three generations of winemakers stopped at the vineyards of the Lamborne family when fires broke out in the Howell Mountain vineyards.
Despite the fire that destroyed the forest around a large part of our vineyard, the burning fence and the melting of our irrigation system, our vines remained relatively intact and there was little damage to the leaves – it turned out that the fire caused long interruptions in the vines.
-Mike Lamborne, Lamborne family vines. -Mike Lamborne.
This wine is an original blend of Napa Cab-Zin organic vineyards at an altitude of 2,200 feet, produced by the classic winemaker Heidi Barrett. Impressive.
Ron Rosenbrand’s valiant efforts are in part due to him for saving the historic home and vineyards of Spring Mountain Vineyards.
During the fires, Mr. Rosenbrand (Spring Mountain vineyard manager) rushed to the winery to lead the firefighters while his own house burned down.
We’ll drink you some Pinot Noir, sir!
This incredible place is located at the top of the Spring Mountain and offers a magnificent view of the valley below. They barely dodged the first shot and had to be evacuated.
The fire in the vines makes the fruit unsuitable for the wine production of this crop. Luckily, the basement is still standing!
Betty O’Shaunessy has written a moving article in which she describes her experience with the fires that raged on Mount Howell in Angvin.
All our red harvest, still in the vineyards, was exposed to smoke. We will not vote for them and we will not produce red wine in 2020. Fortunately, the vintages 2018 and 2019 were generous. Over time we will build our team and plan to keep O’Shaunessy wines on your desk. -Betty O’Shaunessy, O’Shaunessy Wine Estate
Cabernet O’Shaughnessy is one of those classic Howell Mountain wines that make taxi drivers cry with joy. And hope.
Turning the new plate
Spring is not far away, and good ideas germinate in the valley.
An important idea is to support land outside the vineyards, including the reclaimed forests that form the fragile biomechanism of the Napa Valley.
It is incredibly important that those of us who have the privilege of taking care of a vineyard look at the whole landscape, not just the vines, and try to fill the gaps in the local ecosystem with native plants and protect our streams and rivers. Napa Green is the perfect starting point for an exciting journey to restore and improve your country. ” -Steve Mattheasson, Mattheasson Vines. -Steve Mattheasson Vines.
And you don’t have to worry about running out of wine. A local trade association has indicated that 80% of the wineries produce wine from the 2020 harvest.
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