Please join us in wishing a very Happy Birthday to John Komes, our patriarch and President & Proprietor of Flora Springs Winery!
It was in 1977 that John’s father and mother, Jerry and Flora Komes, retired to the Napa Valley and purchased a home that included an abandoned stone winery and vineyards. The potential of the property piqued John’s interest and fueled a dream of owning his own winery in Napa Valley someday. In 1978 he took the leap and established Flora Springs with his parents, his sister, Julie Garvey, and his brother-in-law, Pat Garvey.
While John is quick to share the credit, it is under his watch that Flora Springs has become one of the most respected and beloved family-owned wineries in Napa Valley, producing a portfolio of wines that consistently garner critical acclaim.
Note: The following article was originally published in the Wine Spectator on September 27, 2018 and can be found here.
Paranormal Activity at ‘Ghost Winery’
“…But if you missed the chance to commune with Napa’s dead last weekend at the St. Helena Cemetery, fear not: There are plenty more spectral vintners doomed to roam the terroir for all time (it’s been said some Napa winemakers even sold their souls), and not a few so-called “ghost wineries” they’re thought to haunt. The old Rennie Brothers Winery, completed in 1900, is one—the once-thriving wine factory sat derelict through Prohibition before its rebirth as Flora Spring Estate. On Oct. 28, the winery is bringing in local paranormal investigators/Napa history fiends Ellen MacFarlane and Devin Sisk, who most recently appeared together on the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures, to lead a haunted tour and wine lunch in the old stone cellars and caves. “As one of the few remaining Napa Valley ‘ghost wineries,’ we are constantly reminded that there are phantoms and spirits who walked here before us,” noted general manager Nat Komes to Unfiltered.
As in past years, Flora Springs is also releasing a set of Halloween-themed wines…with limited-edition label art from painters and illustrators: All Hallow’s Eve Cabernet Franc, Ghost Winery Malbec, Black Moon Cabernet Sauvignon and Drink in Peace Merlot (glow-in-the-dark label; comes in coffin-shaped gift box) are a few representative treats.”
Tuesday, September 18th, 2018 was a day of “firsts” at Flora Springs: the first day we harvested Chardonnay as well as the first day of harvesting reds. We hand-picked our Lavender Hill block of Chardonnay in Carneros in the morning. The ½ ton bins were delivered to the winery where the juice was pressed out of clusters. The fruit tasted terrific! It’s very tropical, with nice apple and pear characteristics and a good acid balance.
The Chardonnay juice resided in a holding tank at 45°F for 24 hours, and then we moved it to another tank and inoculated it with yeast. Once fermentation gets going we’ll move the juice to various fermentation vessels, including puncheons (a large 130-gallon oak barrel), standard 60-gallon oak barrels, as well as concrete eggs, which some of you may have seen in our cave. We ferment our Chardonnay at cool temperatures to retain aromatics. It’ll take upward of three weeks to ferment the juice to dryness.
We also picked two blocks of Merlot on Tuesday, both from the Rutherford appellation: our Windfall Vineyard at the very southern end of the Rutherford appellation, and a block on the Komes Ranch at the winery’s estate, at the very northern end of the appellation. Block B of the Komes Ranch is the first block to your right as you enter the estate, and the eastern section of this block is always about a week to 10 days ahead of the rest, so we pick this section first. Like the Chardonnay, the Merlots look and taste terrific. In both blocks the grapes were very well balanced on the vine and taste fantastic!
With the Merlot, we “cold soak” the fruit for about four days at 50°F. During that time we do “pumpovers,” where we pump juice from the bottom of the tank and irrigate the cap that forms at the top of the tank. This helps us get color, flavor and tannin from the skins. On the fifth day, we warm up the tank and inoculate the juice with yeast. We ferment at about 85°F, pumping over anywhere from one to three times a day depending on the stage of fermentation.
The cooler than normal temperatures we’re seeing this harvest is allowing fruit flavors to develop slowly on the vine without the spike in sugar – which is a great thing! When we can obtain physiological ripeness with lower sugar, it’s a gift from Mother Nature. We’ll have a bit of a break before we bring in the next grapes, but we expect to harvest some Sangiovese and additional Merlot within the next week. It looks to be another magical harvest!
It was a gorgeous, sunny day at AT&T Park. Guests enjoyed the weather and stunning city and bay views from the McCovey Cove Portwalk and Triples Alley where we hosted a rousing pre-game party – complete with a posh buffet of ballpark favorites and plenty of Flora Springs wine, including our highly-acclaimed 2015 Trilogy.
A big thank you to everyone who joined us – you made it a grand-slam day!
Interested in attending our next game? Be sure to join our mailing list and you’ll receive invitations to all of our events, as well as priority notice of exclusive offers and access to wines made in limited quantities or available only at the winery.
The Komes-Garvey family has spent thirty years nurturing our Crossroads Vineyard in Oakville where our proprietary Soliloquy clone of Sauvignon Blanc is planted.
The Soliloquy clone is unique to Flora Springs, certified by UC Davis as distinctive and unlike more common Sauvignon Blanc clones in Napa Valley.
Flora Springs admires the clone for its purity of flavor, and has preserved it in a block that is easily the finest in the Crossroads Vineyard.
Our 2017 Soliloquy is an evolution of this wine, the upshot of vineyard experience and winemaking innovation.
The wine is the result of five years of winemaking trials as we experimented with a variety of blending, fermentation and aging techniques to create the best possible Soliloquy.
The 2017 is unlike anything we have made before: a wine with our Soliloquy Sauvignon Blanc at its core, blended with portions of Chardonnay and Malvasia for an intriguing and thoroughly modern white wine.
With a nod to our history of innovation, Soliloquy is a wine worthy of its portfolio companion, our flagship red wine blend, Trilogy.
In 2017, we used two kinds of yeast, fermenting and aging the Soliloquy Sauvignon Blanc in large wood oval casks to minimize exposure to oak and preserve the wine’s fresh fruit flavors and bright acidity.
The Chardonnay comes to us from a new vineyard in the south Napa Oak Knoll district. We fermented these small lots in French oak barrels, stirring the lees every two weeks to lend a creamy texture to the wine.
We sourced Malvasia – an aromatic varietal rarely grown in California – from a small vineyard in Russian River Valley. We fermented this lot in stainless steel and aged it in seasoned French oak.
Only 300 cases were made
Our 2017 Soliloquy is a complex, multi-layered white wine blend offering bright flavors of grapefruit, lime, fresh apricot, and yellow peach along with distinctive floral notes of jasmine, honeysuckle and white gardenia. The Chardonnay anchors the wine with a soft, round mouthfeel, but this richness is balanced with the crisp acidity, bright flavors and minerality of the Sauvignon Blanc and the uplifting, aromatic tones of the Malvasia. A worthy companion to Trilogy, this is a mouthfilling, rich and layered wine with vivid, forward fruit, a pleasant creamy mid-palate and a long, smooth floral/spicy finish. Learn more about this unique wine.
Note: The infamous wildfires that swept through Napa Valley started on October 8, 2017, just one day after Flora Springs had completed its harvest. Grapes for our 2017 Soliloquy had already been picked and fermented by this date. Read more about the 2017 harvest and fires.
Well it’s that time of year again when we start thinking about the upcoming harvest. In the winery we are just finishing up the last of the bottling season. We have a couple more Single Vineyards to go, and Trilogy, and that’s about it.
Preparations are being made in the cellar for the upcoming harvest – equipment maintenance, bin cleaning, sorting table set-up, etc. We’re starting to feel the buzz!
In the vineyard, as you will see from the photos, we are fully underway with veraison. About 80-90% of the grapes at the Komes Ranch (our Estate Vineyard) are through, except for the Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, which are only at about 10%. Most of the Cabernet blocks started veraison around July 24th. They progressed slowly during the last week of July, but colored quickly the first week of August. Our Crossroads Ranch is similar in veraison percentage, although our Sauvignon Blanc is through 100%.
While we have had high afternoon temperatures, most mornings have been relatively cool and/or foggy, and we haven’t experienced the intense heat we had at this time last year. Current vineyard activities include cluster counting (to get accurate crop estimates), fruit thinning (for a more balanced vine that leads to greater fruit quality), leaf thinning (to open up the canopy to allow more exposure and better air flow), measuring vine water status, and scouting for canopy or fruit problems. We also do leaf blade sampling – taking samples of the leaf tissue to determine if there are any nutrient deficiencies. Finally, we’re putting up shade cloths on specific vineyard blocks that are more vulnerable to direct sunlight to protect clusters from sunburn.
We’re seeing a somewhat heavier than normal crop load this year, which is probably more like an average crop load in that we’ve had many years of below average yields due to the drought. So far everything is looking terrific, and we look forward to another great harvest!
Note: The following article was originally written by Julia Hollister and published in the Capital Press on July 22, 2018 and can be found here.
Western Innovator: Vineyard, winery work in progress
John Komes constantly experiments with new techniques at Flora Springs Vineyards and Winery.
NAPA VALLEY, Calif. — John Komes can tell you a lot about viticulture and the changes he’s witnessed; he’s been at it for 41 years.
“My ‘first’ career was as a contractor, and I worked on construction projects all over the Bay Area,” he said. “But in the early 1970s I took a wine appreciation course and my fascination with wine just took off. When my parents bought the Flora Springs property in 1977, I convinced them to let me start making wine from the vines there.
“Part of my motivation was that I wanted to move my family to Napa Valley. It was so unspoiled, so bucolic, and it seemed like a good place to raise children. And I loved the idea of having the whole family involved in the winery. Today I work closely with my son, my brother-in-law and my nephew, which is very satisfying.”
Komes said there have been many changes in viticulture since he got started, and he’s learned much over the years. At Flora Springs he is constantly experimenting, both in the vineyard and the winery. They were one of the first wineries to try barrel fermentation with Chardonnay.
“Our flagship wine, Trilogy, which we introduced in 1984, was one of Napa Valley’s the first proprietary red Bordeaux-style blends,” he said.
“Because we’ve owned our vineyards for so long we’ve had several opportunities to replant, and every time we do, we experiment with different spacing, rootstocks, clones, trellis systems, you name it,” he said. “It’s all about fine tuning as you go along, and I can tell you that the wines we make today are more compelling than ever because of the experimenting we’ve done over the years.”
Napa Valley is a superb place to grow grapes, but over time Komes admits he has learned a lot about which varieties grow best here. This is a region where Cabernet Sauvignon thrives, and the Sauvignon Blanc also grows well.
“I guess to answer the question, the hardest grapes to grow are the varieties that are planted in the wrong place,” he said.
The family has 500 acres throughout the Napa Valley, 300 of which are planted to vineyard.
“We have estate properties in Carneros, Oakville, Rutherford and St. Helena, and we produce varietal wines ranging from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay to Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and other red Bordeaux varietals,” he said. “All of our vineyards are sustainably farmed, and many are farmed organically.”
Wine tastes are changing, and Komes sees more people gravitating to reds these days, but that’s not to say there aren’t a lot of white wine lovers out there.
“In fact, we happened to notice recently that there is no white wine emoji, just a red one! So Flora Springs launched a ‘Where’s the #WhiteWineEmoji’ campaign, and we’re inviting people to sign a petition to have one created,” Komes said. “People can go our website at www.florasprings.com to learn more.”
In spite of the excellent weather and high-quality grapes, Komes said two challenges stand out.
“The two that stand out to me are climate change and labor,” he said. “But the wine industry has faced a lot of challenges, and when we work together we usually find solutions.”
One more thing: What about the big wineries in Napa?
“People often ask me if I think there are too many wineries in Napa Valley. I don’t think there are too many wineries; I just think there are too many big wineries,” he said. “In the last couple of decades the wine industry has experienced what many American industries have undergone: conglomeration. A few big guys buying up the little guys.
“But the little guy is the genius of this industry. The one who discovers new techniques in the vineyards and wineries, who finds and develops small plots of land that produce outstanding grapes, who innovates and creates. I like to think we still have that spirit at Flora Springs, and I certainly think it shows in our wines and hospitality. I also think there will always be little guys, people willing to risk everything to pursue their life’s passion. And to them, I raise my glass!”
Residence: Napa Valley
Occupation: Founder, president and proprietor of Flora Springs Vineyards and Winery
Years in Business: 41
Family: Married to Carrie Komes. Son is Nat Komes. Sister and brother-in-law are Julie Komes Garvey and Pat Garvey.
Today we raise a glass to you. For those of you that are part of our digital community that emailed, signed, tweeted, messaged, liked or shared our plea for a white wine emoji, we are so grateful. If you proudly wear our white wine emoji button, if you always comment, tag, and like our content then we owe you our gratitude. Our efforts are paying off, as the campaign we launched last year calling for a new wine emoji is gaining traction and has been embraced by the global wine community, including several large wineries in California.
It’s not everyday we are featured in major publications such as: Forbes, Today, Decanter, and Wine Spectator. So you can imagine the happy dance we were doing in the cellar today, when we were given credit as the first winery to launch a campaign around the white wine emoji!
“It’s gratifying to see other wine companies follow our example of making wine fun and relevant with their own petitions and campaigns to establish a White Wine Emoji,” said Nat Komes, General Manager of Flora Springs. “The Unicode Emoji Subcommittee encouraged us to work as a global community on the project, and these additional efforts of wine companies and of course white wine lovers around the world will help us reach the goal Flora Springs sought when we started this movement.”
It’s because of our dedicated community on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest that we feel so passionate about the white wine emoji. People from all over the world post messages to us, and we always have to respond with the red wine version of the wine glass emoji, even if we know they are in our white wine only wine club! As a family that has led the way in white wine since our founding over 40 years ago, we’re proud you trust us with this initiative.
Join us in celebrating each and every white wine by calling for the establishment of a White Wine Emoji, by using hashtag #WhiteWineEmoji and tag us @florasprings. Make your voice heard and sign the #WhiteWineEmoji petition now. Learn more about our White Wine Emoji campaign.
One of the interesting facets of Trilogy is that at any one time we are working with two to three vintages…sometimes more. For instance, our 2015 Trilogy is the current release. While the winemaking for that vintage is complete, we are still shipping that wine out to customers on a daily basis.
Meanwhile the 2016 Trilogy is just about to be bottled. We’ve moved it out of our caves where it’s been resting for the past 12 months, and while our winemaking team puts the final tweaks on the blend, our cellar crew is moving the wine from barrel to tank to ready it for bottling. After that the cases will move to our warehouse where they’ll wait for the February 2019 release.
That leaves our 2017, the Trilogy that is still making its way through the winemaking process. It’s had a busy few months! We picked the grapes for that wine in late September and early October. After primary fermentation in our tank room, the wine was moved to another building where it underwent malolactic fermentation, a process that every red wine (and some white wines) undergo. From there, the 2017 wines were racked (moved) into barrels and placed in our barrel warehouse. Most recently, now that the 2016 vintage has been moved from the caves, the 2017 was given one more racking and then took its place as the current Trilogy in our aging caves. It will rest there until we blend and bottle it next summer.
One thing to note is that during all this time all the varietals and vineyard lots for Trilogy are kept separate, so the 2017 “Trilogy” is now simply a series of components in barrel: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. We still don’t know which varietals or vineyard components will make it into the final blend, although our winemaking team is starting to form some ideas. One thing we do know is that Winemaker Paul Steinauer is really excited about the 2017 vintage. “All of the red components are showing beautifully right now, with deep color, great aroma and rich, concentrated flavour. We have a lot to work with here.” The team will get serious about blending decisions for the 2017 vintage later this year, after they’ve finished the 2018 harvest and brought in the grapes for our 2018 Trilogy!
Since the founding of Flora Springs Winery in 1978, it’s been our family’s goal is to over-deliver on every aspect of our business, particularly when it comes to the quality and consistency of our wines.
It means the world to us when our customers recognize these efforts by celebrating life’s big moments, and simple daily joys, with our wines.
With every delighted Wine Club Member and every customer compliment, we know we are still on the right path.
It’s also rewarding when the wine writers, reviewers, and bloggers notice our wines. And they sure are noticing the 2015 vintage of Trilogy – with four fabulous 93 point awards from top publications. While we’ll always believe that everyone should decide on their own whether they like a wine or not, great scores, awards, and reviews are always appreciated – thank you.
93 points, The Wine Advocate “A blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec and 8% Petit Verdot, the deep garnet-purple 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Trilogy offers up aromas of cassis, blackberries and black cherries with hints of vanilla, chocolate and baking spices. Full-bodied, concentrated, expressive and open for business, it’s spicy and velvety in the mouth with a long finish.”
—Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, October 2017
93 points, James Suckling “Hot stones, oyster shell, ripe stems, pressed violets and nutmeg. Full-bodied with round, ripe tannins that are structured and dense, fine acidity and a fruit-forward finish. A blend of 82% cabernet sauvignon, 10% malbec and 8% petit verdot. Drink in 2020.”
—James Sucking, December 2017
93 points, Blue Lifestyle “Lush and rich with smooth texture and lush plum and berry fruit; dense and rich, deep and showing promise for aging.”
—Anthony Dias Blue, January 2018
93 points, The Tasting Panel Magazine, April 2018
91 points & Best of Class, California State Fair, April 2018
90 points, Wine Enthusiast, April 2018
90 points, San Diego International Wine & Spirits Challenge, April 2018
90 points, Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine “On the basis of its ripe and fairly juicy, oak-sweetened aromas, it is easy enough to anticipate that this one will be rounded, ready-to-drink wine, but, if its initially up-front flavors are in fact fruity and very inviting in a way that distantly recalls good Merlot, it is all Cabernet Sauvignon in terms of its youthful tannins and obvious tactile grip. It is not ominously astringent, but it is firmly built and will take some time to make good on the promise of polish at which it now hints, and, while it warrants no less than three or four years of patience, we see it evolving favorably for seven to ten.” April 2018
90 points, International Wine Report “The 2015 Trilogy is an immense, ultra-modern Napa Valley red, composed of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec and 8% Petite Verdot which spent 18 months in 85% French oak and 15% American oak. It opens to profound aromatics of blackberry cobbler, crème de cassis, mocha, sweet spices, vanilla, sweet toasted oak and a touch of dusty notes all taking shape. Full-bodied, layered and intense on the palate, with profound depth and concentration. Ripe dark fruits and mocha flavors continue to resonate from its core, as it leads up to the long, mouth coating finish. Overall, this is a massive red, which should have at least a decade of evolution ahead…”Read more.
—J. D’Angelo, June 2018
Suggestions for rack restocking The Tennessean “Trilogy Red Wine, 2015, from Flora Springs was one of Napa’s first Bordeaux-style red blends—now it’s a classic. Trilogy is like purple in the glass (even the winemaker calls it decadent).”
—Steve Prati, May 30, 2018
25 Wines to Drink Now or Lay Down for the Future The Daily Meal “You always want to have a few bottles of wine on hand that you can drink whenever the occasion arises, whether for tonight’s dinner, when friends drop by, or for an impromptu party. On the other hand, it’s also nice to have a few bottles put away to drink in future years on special occasions…
A rich and delicious blend of mainly cabernet sauvignon with a little malbec and petit verdot, offering velvety flavors of blackberry and mulberry and a light oak accent.”Read more.
—Roger Morris, March 21, 2018
Samples that Inspire a Rallying Cry Moment DallasWineChick.com “This was an unctuous wine that was packed with fruit – blackberry, cassis, black cherry, plum, chocolate, mocha, cedar and vanilla. It was nuanced and had depth. I kept discovering new flavors as we sipped. It was absolutely delicious.”Read more. March 18, 2018
Use of oak affects fruit character of cabernet sauvignon Capital Gazette “Flora Springs was a pioneer in making a Bordeaux blend — its first was in 1984. It’s no surprise, then, that experience and good fruit sources makes them a leader in hedonistic blends. Extracted dark fruit flavors with hints of pepper, chocolate and vanilla. Round tannins suggest good things to come.”Read more.
—Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr, February 21, 2018
There is 3x decadence in ‘Trilogy’ JuliatheWineExaminer.com “Flora Springs has created a red Bordeaux blend that celebrates the incredible fusion of three varietals that define elegance. Your time swirling and sipping this incredible selection is long past due. This is bliss in a bottle…Open this seductive wine about 20 minutes before serving to allow aromas of Bing cherries, sweet cassis and blackberry to start the show. Then swirl and sip dark licorice, cola and cardamom flavors that explode on the palate and exit in a long, luxurious finish. Pour this “big” wine with “big” foods such as prime rib, bold burgers and meat laden pastas. Winemakers say this enticing, robust red wine can be enjoyed through the next decade; but why wait?”Read more. January 18, 2018
91+ points, Millennial Drinkers “Deep and dark purplish ruby red. Layered nose with notes of vanilla bean, anise, cinnamon, cassis, blackberries and more baking spices. A little dark cocoa with some air. Medium plus tannins (6.5/10) and full body potential. A little spicy on the palate with lots of red and black fruits. Notes of cinnamon and sweet spices too. Long and lingering finish. Still just a baby that will improve with a few months, even years in the bottle. Drink Dates: 2018 till 2030.”Read more. January 25, 2018
Rated: A, Drinkhacker “This year’s Trilogy is a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Malbec, and 8% Petit Verdot. For 2015, Trilogy cuts a soulful, silky, and seductive profile, bursting at the seams with fruit both fresh and dried — plump currants, fresh plums, and dense blackberry notes. The fruit is so powerful the wine comes across as slightly sweet at times, and it cuts easily through any sense of tannin that might otherwise cling to the palate. As the finish evolves, bramble notes emerge alongside some gentle leather and tobacco, with an herbal, clove-heavy note percolating on the finish. Lots going on here, but at the same time, the wine is so easy to drink that it is, at times, hard to put down.”Read more. January 31, 2018
2015 Trilogy Review
Wine Weirdos, featuring Allison Levine of Please the Palate and the Napa Valley Register: