John Komes on His 44th Napa Valley Harvest

November 7, 2022

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said John Komes, speaking about the 2022 harvest.

He should know, he’s been through 44 of them! That’s right, this year marked John’s 44th harvest at Flora Springs.

John Komes, Flora Springs Winery

Here’s how he described it: “It was a unique year to say the least. In May a freak hailstorm passed through Napa Valley, part of a system that also brought lightning and even snow to regions to the north of us. A relatively cool summer was followed by an extended heat wave starting Labor Day weekend that dashed any hopes of a leisurely harvest. We brought in our white grapes as fast as we could. And then, following all that heat we had a day of rain, heavy at times but really just enough to knock the dust off the vines. By mid-September, thankfully, the weather was absolutely beautiful…foggy mornings, sunny days and cool nights. We were able to bring in our Cabernet at a nice even pace and the fruit looked fantastic. Good color, great flavors, and even with higher sugar levels, the natural acidity held the grapes’ structure intact. Mother Nature sure had a mixed bag of tricks for us this year, but I’m optimistic about the quality of our 2022 vintage.”

Night Harvest

October 15, 2022

by Nat Komes, Flora Springs General Manager

When our family founded Flora Springs in the late 1970s, harvest was a family affair, with relatives and friends joining us from around the Bay Area to help us pick grapes over a couple of weekends.

As our vineyard holdings grew, we hired a full-time vineyard crew to help with harvest, though we still reserved a few rows for our family. In the early 1980s, everyone in Napa Valley picked during daylight, starting after sunrise and finishing up in the afternoon.

But our family came up with a better idea: why not pick the grapes at night when it’s nice and cool, and deliver them to the winery first thing in the morning for processing? It would be more comfortable for the harvest crew, and the fruit would better retain its acid and structure.

We jerry-rigged some lighting on a tractor and gave it a try, and quickly concluded it was a better way to go. Today, of course, nearly every winery in Napa Valley harvests at night; it results in superior fruit and happier vineyard crews.

Night Picking Harvest

Night Picking Harvest

Night Picking Harvest

Night Picking Harvest

Night Picking Harvest Dawn

2020 All Hallows’ Eve Cabernet Franc

This year we’re celebrating the fact that Flora Springs was among the first to implement night picking with a one-of-a-kind label created for our 2020 All Hallows’ Eve Cabernet Franc label. I worked with comic book illustrator, graphic novelist and digital comics pioneer, Steve Ellis, who developed one of my favorite labels to date. Against the backdrop of a full harvest moon, a menacing bat hovers above the Flora Springs vineyard where the crew brings in the Cabernet Franc for this wine. As I mentioned, harvesting at night keeps the grapes and pickers cool, but it may also attract the attention of these fierce creatures of the night!

2020 All Hallows' Eve Cabernet Franc

Flora Springs Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons Featured in International Wine Review

August 30, 2022

Note: The article excerpted below was originally published in International Wine Review and can be found here.

Napa Valley Cabernet Vineyard

Flora Springs is one of the Napa Valley’s storied wineries. Located at the base of the Mayacamas mountain range in Napa Valley, it became famous in the 1990s, especially for its Cabernet Sauvignon. We reviewed Flora Springs wines earlier this year and were so impressed with their Legacy Cabernet Sauvignon blend that we asked to taste their portfolio of single vineyard Cabernets, which are the wines we review in this article. These are exceptionally elegant and flavorful wines. Beginning in 2019, Enrico Bertoz is responsible for the winemaking, having replaced long time winemaker Paul Steinauer, who has retired. Read our earlier article for more about what’s happening at Flora Springs including a review of their unique Soliloquy Sauvignon Blanc blend.

The 2020 Napa wildfires means Flora Springs had very limited production in that year. In short, if you want to buy Flora Springs Cabernet Sauvignon, do so now.

The Wines

Flora Springs 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Holy Smoke Vineyard Oakville Napa Valley
93 points
Dark red. Shows an expansive nose of black currant with deeper notes of loam soil and chocolate shavings that are mirrored on a deeply flavored, mouth filling palate. The texture is silky with a firm structure, juicy acidity, and an overall sense of refinement. The oak is seamlessly integrated with just a hint of toast. And the finish is persistent with moderate tannins. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from a single block planted to Clone 4 and matured 18 months in 80% French and 20% American oak.

Flora Springs 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Wild Boar Vineyard Napa Valley
94 points
The Wild Boar Cab is a supple wine with good intensity of fruit. It begins with savory, earthy aromas married to cassis fruit. The attack is soft and refined, leading to a palate of dark fruit with hints of chocolate and loam. Surprisingly accessible with round tannins and a long flavorful finish. Of all the Flora Springs single vineyard Cabernets, this is the one we would choose to drink now. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 18 months in 30% French and 70% American oak.

Flora Springs 2018 Dust & Glory Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain Napa Valley
93 points
Dark red. On the nose, gorgeous up front aromas of blackberry, cassis, and tobacco leaf. Silky smooth attack followed by a beautifully refined mouth feel and concentrated, layered flavors of dark cherry, dark berries and savory dried herbs. A youthful wine, it has a distinct stoney, chalky mineral character. Finishes with a long flavorful finish with soft round tannins. Surprisingly evolved for a mountain wine, but then 2018 was an exceptional vintage. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from one of the highest vineyard sites on the volcanic soils of Howell Mountain; matured 22 months in 94% French and 6% American oak.

Flora Springs 2019 Rutherford Hillside Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Napa Valley
93 points
On the nose, the Rutherford Hillside shows earthy, dark fruit complemented by smoky oak and cooking spice. It’s soft and silky on entry with a beautifully balanced and pure, refined character. Black currant and black raspberry show on the firmly structured and densely flavored palate, but despite its youth this wine is accessible now. Finishes long with dark fruit, cocoa dust, and earthy notes. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from a small block of vines on the northwestern edge of the Rutherford appellation aged 18 months in 90% French and 10% American oak. The Rutherford Hillside Cab has been produced as a single vineyard wine since 1994.

Flora Springs Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons

Flora Springs Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons

Truly elegant and powerful wines, that reflect the place from which they originate. Shop our current releases or contact us at (800) 913-1118 to inquire about other vintages.

This Cabernet’s Aging Capacity Is Out of Sight

June 30, 2022

Out of Sight Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Our Out of Sight Cabernet Sauvignon represents the best of both worlds: a wine that is wonderfully approachable in its youth, but with the capacity to age gracefully for five, ten, even fifteen years.

The secret? The wine’s tannin profile.

“The Out of Sight Cabs consistently have these lush, round tannins that make them immediately accessible early on,” says Winemaker Enrico Bertoz. “But these same tannins – which are essentially antioxidants – help the wines resist oxidation, which is what causes them to age.”

The quality of Out of Sight’s tannins is due both to its location and the vineyard’s soil profile. Situated on a gentle slope just north of the Coombsville AVA, Out of Sight is our southernmost Cabernet vineyard, and the soils are a beautiful gravelly loam. “The relatively cool microclimate combined with these perfect soils yield really small berries with a high skin to pulp ratio,” says Enrico. “This translates to very dark color and flavors that veer towards black fruit as well as those rich tannins.”

Because of the tannin profile, Enrico is able to leave the wine on its skin for up to two weeks after the primary fermentation is complete, a practice he began several years ago. This would be unthinkable with other Cabernets which have sharper, more angular tannins that need to be harnessed early on, but the technique works well with Out of Sight and contributes to its age worthiness.

Besides the single vineyard bottling, Cabernet from Out of Sight always makes it into Flora’s Legacy Cabernet and Trilogy. “It just always makes the cut,” says Enrico. No wonder it’s one of his favorites!

Out of Sight Vineyard, Coombsville AVA, Napa Valley

Planted on an oak-laden hillside between the Napa Valley AVAs of Oak Knoll and Coombsville, our Out of Sight Vineyard off the Silverado Trail is easily missed, hence its name. When we purchased the property in the late 1980s, the site’s gravelly soils and northwest exposure signaled great potential, but the tangled head-pruned vines also suggested years of neglect. After completely re-developing the property, however, our organically-farmed Out of Sight vineyard is today one of our most treasured fruit sources.

We Have a Thirst for Conserving Water

May 30, 2022

When you live in California, you understand deep down that water is a precious resource. Periodic droughts have been a fact of life here for decades if not centuries, and even in years when winter storms are plentiful, our Mediterranean climate means we get very little – if any – rain from May through September.

That’s actually good for grape growing, since wine grapes don’t require as much water as many other crops. But grapevines do need some water, and as farmers we’re always looking for ways to irrigate as judiciously as possible. It begins by studying our soils.

Komes Ranch Rutherford Napa Valley

One vineyard or even one block can have several types of soils; Napa Valley has more than 100 soil variations. We know that soils heavy in clay need less water than sandy soils, which drain more easily. So we adjust our irrigation regimes to match these different soil types.

For example, at the Komes Ranch, we have six irrigation zones within one 15-acre block. Once we’ve “mapped” the soils, we use several different technologies to measure vine stress during the growing season. These include aerial images (known as Normalized Dierence Vegetation Index or NDVI) that help us understand which sections of our vineyards are undergoing heat stress. We also use fancy sounding evapotranspiration sensors, sap flow meters and soil sensors that measure the water content of our soils and stress of the vines.

By using these measurements, we are able to precisely target the areas of our vineyards that need irrigation. Over the last few years these technologies have resulted in water savings of approximately 50%. What’s more, we’ve found that being more precise in our irrigation practices results in higher quality grapes, a win/win for us and the planet!

Vineyard Views Napa Valley

Napa Valley Vineyards

With estate properties stretching from the cool, rolling hills of Carneros to the famed sub-appellations of Oakville, Rutherford and St. Helena, Flora Springs produces varietal wines ranging from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay to Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and other red Bordeaux varietals. Each year the family selects a small percentage of the yield for their own wines, selling the remaining fruit to neighboring Napa Valley wineries. This selection puts the focus on quality, not quantity, resulting in hand-crafted wines that meet the family’s exacting standards. Learn more about our Napa Valley vineyards.

Sustainable Farming

As a family that came to the wine business as farmers first, our love of the land influences everything we do. Our environmental stewardship led us to embrace sustainable and organic farming early on. Our search for superior vineyards sites led us to acquire land in some of Napa Valley’s finest appellations, including Rutherford, Oakville, St. Helena and Carneros. Over the years, as we’ve planted and replanted this land to vines, we’ve experimented with rootstocks, clones, trellising systems and a variety of viticultural techniques, always striving to produce the best possible quality.

Every wine we produce, from Trilogy to our single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons, is crafted to express the singular soils, microclimates, and beauty of its respective vineyard origins. Learn more about our sustainable farming practices.

 

Flora Springs Sangiovese Featured in Napa Valley Life Magazine

May 2, 2022

Note: The article excerpted below was originally published in the Napa Valley Life Magazine and can be found here.

2018 Sangiovese from Flora Springs in Napa Valley

“Napa Valley is synonymous with Cabernet Sauvignon, so why do producers craft wines from varietals that seem “out of place” for the region? Although Napa Valley has hung its hat—for good reason—on Cabernet, the region’s diverse terroir is what allows for the wide range of varietals that successfully grow in the right microclimates. Add that to passion and talent, and a great viticulturist can team up with an experienced winemaker to turn a non-Cabernet varietal into a truly fantastic Napa Valley wine.

Enter Sangiovese. This thin-skinned grape variety can be tricky to grow, but select Napa Valley producers have mastered the art of crafting this finicky grape into spectacular wine…”

At Flora Springs Winery, General Manager Nat Komes admits that they have “found the southern part of the valley to be a good area for Sangiovese.” Komes stands by the cool breezes in southern Napa Valley blowing up from the San Pablo Bay as one of the main factors for helping their Sangiovese retain the quintessential acidity for which the grape is known. Much like Laura and Brian from 601 Cellars, Komes’ family has a “fell in love” with Sangiovese memory from a trip to Tuscany. “Our Napa Valley Sangiovese stands out primarily because it is becoming so rare,” Komes stated. The estate’s 2019 Sangiovese is a member’s only wine packed with cherry, pomegranate, and red plum—it’s well worth signing up to get your hands on this bottle…” Read more.

Flora Springs Sangiovese

Sangiovese is the grape most commonly found in the famed Chianti region of Italy, and this version, from a south Napa Valley vineyard cooled by the San Pablo Bay, benefits during the growing season from a consistent weather pattern of cool, foggy mornings that melt into warm, sunny afternoons. Bursting with fresh fruit flavors of Bing cherry, pomegranate and red plum, this fleshy, mouthfilling red shows accents of mocha, warm spice and licorice. Despite a dense profile, fresh acidity keeps this one bright and focused through to a lingering finish. A crowd-pleasing wine, take this one to your next family dinner. Learn more about the 2019 Sangiovese.

The 2022 Growing Season Is Underway

April 14, 2022

Flora Springs Napa Valley Vineyards

It’s springtime in Napa Valley as we enter the height of another growing season.

All of our estate vineyards in Napa Valley went through bud break in March, and since then the vines have pushed out their shoots and leaves and are ready to go through flowering. This is a crucial time in the growing season, as those delicate flowers turn into grape clusters. Heavy rain or strong winds can knock the flowers off the vines, lowering our crop yields and causing unevenness in the fruit set. So we hope for mild weather in May and early June, keeping our eyes on the forecast with fingers crossed!

Flora Springs Napa Valley Vineyards

The Komes and Garvey’s have always been farmers first, and over the years the family has acquired 500 acres throughout Napa Valley, 300 of which are planted to vineyard. With estate properties stretching from the cool, rolling hills of Carneros to the famed sub-appellations of Oakville, Rutherford and St. Helena, Flora Springs produces varietal wines ranging from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay to Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and other red Bordeaux varietals. Each year the family selects a small percentage of the yield for their own wines, selling the remaining fruit to neighboring Napa Valley wineries. This selection puts the focus on quality, not quantity, resulting in hand-crafted wines that meet the family’s exacting standards.

Innovation has always been at the forefront at Flora Springs and remains strong to this day. With decades of experience in Napa Valley farming, the family never rests on its laurels; rather, the years have provided multiple opportunities to refine and experiment with new rootstocks, clones, trellising and irrigation systems, and other viticultural practices. This focus on continuous improvement is a hallmark of the Komes and Garvey family, resulting in the highest quality estate-grown wines. Learn more about Flora Springs Napa Valley vineyards.

James the Wine Guy on the 2020 Soliloquy & 2019 Trilogy

April 6, 2022

2020 Soliloquy

93 points
“…a success to the winemaker…the winemaker is doing a fantastic job of creating a really nice, vivid, striking balance in this wine…”

2019 Trilogy

94 points
“…comes across nicely and handsomely…this is an absolutely luminous, beautiful wine…”

2020 Soliloquy

Flora Springs Soliloquy is named for our proprietary Sauvignon Blanc clone, an outstanding and singular clone which is entirely unique to Flora Springs. Planted in our Crossroads Vineyard in the Oakville AVA, the clone was certified in the late 1980s by UC Davis as distinct from more common Sauvignon Blanc clones in Napa Valley. The clone nearly went extinct when our vines became diseased and had to be pulled. It took eight long years – three in a lab, two in a nursery and three in the ground – but our family was able to protect and preserve this precious clone. After that, General Manager Nat Komes took Soliloquy on as a personal project, conducting numerous blending trials over a three-year period to re-create the Soliloquy wine he and his family remember so fondly. Today, Soliloquy represents our quest to create the finest white wine we have ever made, a worthy companion to our proprietary red wine, Trilogy. Learn more about this wine.

2019 Trilogy

Our 2019 Trilogy marks the 35th vintage of our flagship red wine, a bottling that dates back to 1984 when our family decided to make the finest wine possible by selecting fruit from the highest quality blocks from our estate vineyards in Napa Valley. Back then it was one of Napa Valley’s first proprietary red wines, and we named it for the three Bordeaux varietals which made up the blend. Ever since, Trilogy has consistently earned more than 90 points from wine critics and is admired by fans both for its approachability and ability to age. Learn more about this wine.

Winter Solstice: What Is It, And When Is It?

November 18, 2021

The Komes and Garvey’s have always been farmers first, and over 40 years the family has acquired 500 acres throughout Napa Valley, 300 of which are planted to vineyards. As farmers we are always aware of the relationship between the earth and our sun and the solstices that mark the seasonal transitions.

Napa Valley Vineyard in Winter

What is the Winter Solstice?

According to the Farmers’ Almanac, winter solstice is “the astronomical moment when the Sun reaches the Tropic of Capricorn, we have our shortest day and longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere in terms of daylight.” The solstice marks the official start of winter.

When is the Winter Solstice?

The winter solstice for the Northern Hemisphere occurs on Tuesday, December 21, 2021 at 10:59 a.m. Eastern time.

What Does “Solstice” Mean?

The term “solstice” comes from the Latin words sol (Sun) and sistere (to stand still). During the solstice, the angle between the sun’s rays and the plane of the Earth’s equator appears to stand still.

Winter Solstice Traditions Around the World

The shortest day and longest night of the year inspire mystical celebrations, both old and new, in anticipation of the sun’s return. According to Wikipedia, “The solstice may have been a special moment of the annual cycle for some cultures even during Neolithic times. Astronomical events were often used to guide activities. Many cultural mythologies and traditions are derived from this.”

The start of winter and the winter solstice are celebrated in cultures and religions around the world with various traditions, holidays, and festivals. Today, the winter solstice is a reminder to honor our connection to the natural world. Learn more about holidays and traditions around the December solstice including but not limited to Christmas, Feast of Juul, Saturnalia in Ancient Rome, Gody in Poland, and Chaomos in northwestern Pakistan.

Solstice Holiday Wine

2018 Holiday Blend – Solstice Hare

Attired in a golden crown and necklace, our Solstice Hare celebrates winter solstice; we like to imagine him watching over our dormant vineyards as the winter solstice approaches on December 21st. Like our other holiday illustrations in 2021, the illustration is inspired by Flora Springs’ matriarch and muse, Flora Komes, whose love for all living things, both great and small, was legendary. Shop now, and see our Holiday Shipping Guide for helpful ordering details including order deadlines to receive your shipment in time for winter solstice.

In the Vineyards

July 29, 2021

With harvest just around the corner we thought we’d take you through a pictorial of the 2021 growing season so far. Though we have yet to bring our grapes in, our weather has been lovely in Napa Valley and we’re looking forward to another outstanding vintage.

February:Vines are Dormant

Vineyard in February

These neatly pruned vines in John Komes’ vineyard were dormant back in February, patiently waiting to wake up for the 2021 growing season.

March: Budbreak

Budbreak
Budbreak, when buds swell and the vines put out their first leaves, occurred right on time, rippling through our vineyards in March.

May: Fruit Set

Vineyard Flowering

Just a few weeks later in May, flower clusters destined to become grapes began to appear, a growth stage known as fruit set. Photosynthesis and vine growth sped up dramatically.

Late May: Canopy Management

Napa Vineyard Late May

Within a couple of weeks, the vines had full canopies which we managed by hand throughout the season to ensure the grapes had just the right amount of dappled sunlight.

June: Berry Clusters

Vineyard Berries

The first berries to form in June were green and hard to the touch. The clusters looked very healthy though, and we began to get a sense of how big the vineyard crop is going to be (hint: small).

July: Veraison

Veraison

In late July the fruit started to go through veraison, the period when the grapes soften and develop color. Just a few weeks from now we’ll be in harvest, and at Flora Springs we can’t wait!

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