A vineyard that was planted in the 1870’s has plenty of stories to tell. Proof is an unusual place. There are goats and chickens. There is a windmill and a well that went dry in ’82. Sorry, 1982. Here you have to clarify the century. There are dry farmed peaches there – with an amazing flavor. And then there are apple trees, and the acres of vegetables. Yes, vegetables in the Napa Valley! And then, out next to the compost, there is the vineyard. It’s 4 acres and shaped a bit like a “T.” The first vines were planted in the 1880’s, after the owners brought back new selections of budwood from France. This was part of an effort by the California Agricultural Commission to improve the vine stock that was available for white wines; sweet white wines. Then came the prohibition era. The reds were planted in open spots where the white vines had died off. Here and there, various reds.
Today the grape vines are referred to as “the greens” and “the blues.” The only fertilizer that is applied is dried Norwegian kelp from the 1950’s.
The only sprays that are used are… none. The canes are rubbed with garlic oil to prevent mildew. A few leaves are plucked here and there to let the sun in and permit the air to circulate around the fruit. There is no irrigation, so there is a little powdery mildew pressure, unless you count those vines over by the big oak trees. Now that’s a cranky spot. Harvest comes early, since most of the juice is produced for locals. Yes, juice. Not wine. After five years of helping with the care of this biological treasure trove, this historic link back to the 19th century, we have been given the opportunity to make wine from the oldest red vines. One whole barrel. Here it is.