Vineyards & Winemaking
Land has a story to tell. People write history above it and the land writes the story below it. Nathan Pratt saw the magic on this plot when settlers first reached St. Helena. Luther Burbank saw the potential in this estate and helped Mr. Pratt plant a variety of apple, prune and walnut trees, which became cash crops during prohibition. Peter Story saw this exquisite property and dreamed of Cabernet vines nurtured in its rich soil. Today, understanding and embracing our chapter in the story is the humbling experience of a vineyard owner. We have the immense privilege of listening to a historic plot of land then orchestrating our understanding of how to artfully react to all of Mother Nature’s whims in order to achieve a quality harvest every vintage.
Great wine begins in the vineyard, and great vineyards begin in the soil. The complex soils that send ribbons of influence through the four estate blocks of St. Helena Winery are a perfect site for Cabernet Sauvignon. Using 4 different clones on multiple soil types provides the wine making team of Peter Story and Aaron Pott with a variety of aromas, flavors, and textures that capture the estate terroir. The Bacchus clone is planted in the gravel beds left by the Napa River centuries ago and the site produces small intense berries with strong tannin structure. Clone 337 and 191 are planted on the mixed gravel loam to create opulence in the mid palate, and See clone is rooted in dense clay giving it the ability to retain acidity and bright fruit in the heat of summer. Javier, our vineyard supervisor, has been perfecting the art of precision farming for decades and is intimately familiar with every vine on the St Helena estate. Sustainable farming practice leaves the land intact and with little footprint from the efforts above ground. It is our privilege to receive the offering from the vineyard every year and present it to you as a well balanced expression in a bottle.
As the magical time of harvest approaches, Peter and Javier walk the rows daily to determine which rows are ideal to harvest. The selected clusters are hand picked, de-stemmed and sorted then placed in T-bins. Each bin enters a cold soak for 10 days to extract all of the heady color, flavors and aroma. The juice is allowed to ferment using native yeast before being transferred to new French oak barrels from some of the finest coopers including Bossuet, Darnajou and Seguin Moreau. After a two year rest in oak, the individual blocks are tasted and the complex process of blending begins to define each estate wine. The raising of wine in oak, and balancing the fresh flavors and textures in elegant expressions is the art of winemaking as expressed by Peter Story and Aaron Pott. The result is a celebration of the efforts in the vineyard preserved and enhanced with patience and precision.