Harvest is one of my favorite times of the year and there is a palpable nostalgic energy in the air. As we approach the inevitable first pick of 2017 which we surmise is about two weeks behind the 2016 harvest, we are on track for a normal year. I’m not kidding when I say that this vintage is beautiful for grape growing and one of best I’ve seen in the last decade.
The mild weather of late is giving the clusters time to moderately develop sugar content in conjunction with phenolic levels that contribute to ideal color and aroma. Perfect fruit ripeness is typically the intersection of sugar and the stage at which the phenols change from green and bitter to pleasantly astringent, soft and ripe-tasting. And this phase is just around the corner. We anticipate that our yields will be up between 15-20% over the 2016 vintage which means more wine for you and more wine for me! What could be better than that?!
Join the 8th Annual Global Celebration of Cabernet.
#CabernetDay is a global celebration of the Cabernet grape, intended to give Cabernet lovers around the world a fun opportunity to express their passion for the grape. Cabernet lovers come together in person and online to discover and share everything about Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet-based blends.
We are proud to say that after more than 37 years of winemaking and more than 30 years of crafting Trilogy – our flagship Cabernet-based red blend – Flora Springs is still breaking new ground. We credit the consistent organic and sustainable farming practices of our vineyard team as well as the focus and direction of our winemaker, Paul Steinauer.
How to participate:
Open up your favorite Flora Springs Cabernet.
Join us online August 31st. We’ll be talking about Cabernet and Cab blends all day, then the conversation really picks up at 5:30 pm Pacific time.
Enter to win: Tweet or Instagram with us on August 31st using hashtag #CabernetDay and @florasprings in your tweets/posts.
We will pick one lucky Flora Springs fan using #CabernetDay and tagging us in their tweet or Instagram post! You could win a Flora Springs prize pack.*
*Must be 21+ to enter. Void where prohibited. Wine will not be included in prize pack. Chance of winning depends on number of entries.
As Flora Springs President & Proprietor John Komes says, “hard work and a stellar team are the keys to the longtime success of Flora Springs.” Nothing makes us happier than when our customers recognize these efforts by celebrating big life moments, and simple daily joys, with our wines.
While scores and reviews from wine writers and reviewers are always appreciated as well, we believe everyone should decide on their own whether they like a wine or not.
Still, it’s nice when our wines are noticed. Below are a couple of our favorite examples regarding the 2014 Trilogy, you find the complete list here.
Over that past few weeks our vineyards have been abuzz with activity. As farmers, our family constantly tends to the vineyards which means meticulous care for every vine throughout our properties in Napa Valley.
With the immense amount of rainfall received over winter, we are seeing a lot more vigor than in previous vintages. Earlier this month we kept busy with leaf removal and shoot positioning to foster adequate light through the canopy and properly see each cluster to maturity. Things are looking great out there and we anticipate a bumper crop for the 2017 vintage.
Over the years, my family has acquired nearly 350 acres of vineyards – which means we have spent much time planting and replanting vines. The newest of late, is the replanting of a 15-acre fallow block on our Crossroads Ranch to Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 2. We anticipate this vineyard to come to fruition in the next 3-to-5 years with excellent Oakville fruit. Stay tuned!
Note: The following blog post was originally published in Briscoe Bites and can also be foundhere.
John and Carrie Komes and Julie and Pat Garvey established Flora Springs in 1977, though the vineyard has history dating back to the early 1800s, when Napa was just forming its roots as a California wine region. So the families already had a jump start on success by purchasing fertile land perfect for crafting what they’d soon be known for — Bordeaux blends. But John Komes admittedly has had a “long love affair” with Chardonnay and it was, in fact, the first Flora Springs varietal he produced 40 years ago. And though he’s seen Chardonnay styles go in and out of fashion — from the classic Cali butter-bomb to the sometimes scandalous 100% stainless steel — current winemaker Paul Steinauer maintains the winemaking methods that expresses Chardonnay in the same way that enraptured John from the very beginning.
About the Wine: The Flora Springs 2016 Family Select Chardonnay is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes harvested from vineyards in Oakville, Oak Knoll, and Carneros regions of California’s Napa Valley AVA — and each vineyard lot remained separate until the final blending process right before bottling. The pressed juices were fermented in combination of French oak barrels (76%) — which went through malolactic fermentation — and stainless steel tanks (24%). The portion in barrel saw 30% new oak, 34% 1 year-old oak, 24% 2 year-old and 12% 3 year-old oak.
The final blend — the best of each vineyard lot — aged in French oak, sur lie, for 7 months with bi-weekly battonage.
Flavor Profile: Open the bottle and breathe in a bouquet of soft pear, white peaches, and a subtle floral sweetness. The wine is near clear on the pour, settling into a pastel, baby yellow in the glass. Initial aromas sing of white flowers and pollen, with a crisp, yet subtle acidity that highlights those soft pears and adding to that fruit bouquet the scent of ripe melon. Swirl, and the wine releases it’s inner oak — a roundness, a softness on the nose that’s almost butter-esque, but not quite. Move your nose to the top of the glass to find the indulgent aroma of creme brûlée. And yet, everywhere you go, there’s still that thin line of acidity, keeping everything fresh, vibrant, alive.
On the palate, the Flora Springs Estate Chardonnay is quite smooth, and the beautiful stink of pollen hits immediately, along with honey essence, white-petal flower perfume, and a constant background of crisp, green pears. The acid is sneaky, not fully coming forward until about 3/4 of the way through, and leaving just a little heat on the tongue during the finish. There’s a good, light-handed use of oak that simply keeps the texture calm yet never adds any additional, stereotypical oak flavors (like popcorn, butter, or vanilla-cream). Even in the aftertaste there’s an innate freshness to this Chardonnay: raw cashews, fresh grass, fruits and flowers all linger on the palate.
Food Pairing: I paired the Flora Springs 2016 Family Select Chardonnay with an Italian flat bread topped with mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and a light sauce. What I loved was how the cheese — and maybe the fresh baked bread as well — brought forth more of that subtle oak in the wine, providing an even smoother texture and a flavor just a notch more richer than previous to the meal. Had the wine been more heavy-handed with the oak, this intensity would have been too overwhelming. Conversely, the addition of the cherry tomatoes and red onion highlighted the fresher components in the wine, so the overall profile of the pairing maintained a good balance from start to finish.
Learn more about the 2016 Family Select Chardonnay.
Each year we devote one day to celebrating the release of our signature red wine, Trilogy.
The creation of Trilogy goes back to 1984 when our family set out to make the best wine possible by selecting the highest quality wine lots culled from our estate vineyards. By blending traditional Bordeaux varietals — Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc — we created one of the original Meritage wines. Over the years we’ve added other Bordeaux varietals to this Cabernet-based blend, always seeking to create the very finest wine from each individual vintage.
We’re excited to announce that The Estate is now open for tours & tastings on Sundays.
Our historic estate is located at the end of a quiet country lane surrounded by majestic oaks, lush fruit trees and panoramic vineyard views. Both a working winery and the family home of our proprietors, The Estate is Napa Valley at its most authentic and intimate.
It’s that time of year when the bottling season is upon us.
We have completed bottling all of our 2016 white wines, and are now bottling the 2015 red wines. Seen here, we are currently bottling our 2015 Petit Verdot.
The bottles are first sparged with nitrogen on a sparging wheel. This serves two purposes – to displace any packaging cardboard dust, as well as to remove oxygen from the bottle.
Then the wine flows into the bottle from the upstairs tank via the 16-spout filler seen here.
The bottle then continues on the conveyor belt to the corker. The corker pulls a vacuum in the headspace of the bottle to displace the air, allowing the cork to enter the neck of the bottle without pressure.
As it enters the foiler, a foil is placed on the bottle and crimped tightly to the neck of the bottle.
The bottle then continues on to the labeler, where both a front and back pressure-sensitive label is applied.
Finally, each bottle will be checked for fill level height, any glass, label or foil imperfections, and then placed in a 12-bottle case box.
We bottle approximately 1,000 – 1,200 cases per day, or 12,000 – 14,400 bottles depending on the bottle shape, and stack the cases on a pallet of 56 cases per pallet. The wine then gets delivered to our cellar where it will age until the release date. At which point, it may find its way to your very own glass…
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of Flora Springs Winery.
To celebrate, we’ve created a special bottling of our 2014 Rennie Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, which received 95 points from The Wine Advocate. The label – a fanciful rendering of our beloved estate in St. Helena – is from an original painting we commissioned when Jerry and Flora Komes first purchased the property. It became the cover of the very first brochure we ever produced about the winery. If you look closely, you can see Jerry and Flora in front of the old Ghost Winery, toasting their new lives with a glass of Napa Valley Cabernet!
As a vintner, one of the questions I’m asked most often is: “Is this going to be a good year?” The reviewer, of course, is referring to the condition of the grapes. My response is that growing grapes is kind of like a football game. They both have four quarters.
The first quarter – or season – is winter. In football, the first quarter involves deciding what game plan to use after seeing your opponent on the field. Winter for the grape farmer is much the same, analyzing the rainfall and pruning the vines to get the desired outcome. The way you prune – and the number of spurs you leave on the vine – determines the amount and quality of the fruit you’ll get. In football, similarly, the first quarter determines what formation best suits the situation.
The second quarter is spring. Now the game gets interesting. The farmer must play defense, protecting the vines from frost and wind. Either condition can change the whole offensive game plan, causing damage or loss of the tender young buds and flowers that eventually turn into fruit. Either of these would be akin to losing your star running back, something to avoid as much as humanly possible.
At half time the farmer pauses to consider the crop load and canopy management techniques. At this point, with the end game in site, efforts should be directed at the highest possible quality of fruit, not necessarily the greatest quantity.
The third quarter is summer. Things happen quickly during this phase. The clusters take shape and the grapes go through verasion (when they soften and, with red grapes, change color). The farmer prays for warm days, cool nights and low humidity. He or she must determine when to water and how best to prune the vine canopies so that the grapes get enough sunlight to ripen but not burn. The third quarter of the football game is also a show of force, a time to determine the strength of your team and the weakness of your opponent and let them play to their capabilities.
Then there’s the fourth quarter. At the end of the third quarter of Super Bowl 2017, if you were to ask the Atlanta Falcons coach if this was going to be “a good year,” he would have had a positive reply. The fourth quarter is crucial. You either have a maintenance strategy or a go-for-broke strategy. In grape farming, if the weather is favorable and the fruit looks good, it’s a matter of maintaining your position with a little crop management, dropping a little under-ripe fruit to encourage uniform ripening. But if the weather changes and rains are on the horizon, you might try to hasten ripening by dropping lots of fruit, hoping that a smaller crop will ripen more quickly. If it does rain, you can try to keep the berries dry, but if the berries break down before picking, you know how the Atlanta Falcons felt after Super Bowl 2017.
So you see, farmers never know how a vintage will turn out until the fruit is picked and the game is over. I hope you enjoy your next bottle of wine, and next year’s Super Bowl!