What does Mustard Season Mean for Napa Valley?

January 12, 2024

 

As a general rule, the mustard season in Napa Valley lasts from January through March (depending on the weather) and peak viewing is mid-February. The first yellow flowers usually come in 90 days after the last of the fall rain. Vibrant colors and bright flavors fill the Valley. But – there is a lot more to mustard than meets the eye. Mustard growth is a natural deterrent to nematode population (microscopic worms that can cause damage to the vines) because it contains high levels of biofumigants.

Mustard is a useful cover crop that is either planted or sprouts voluntarily in vineyards, it prevents against soil erosion, and recharges the soil with nitrogen. It also loosens up soil that has become compacted by growing deep vine roots 1-3 feet below the surface. The deep roots of the vines help the mustard reap the benefits of nutrients of a greater depth.

Mustard Season Begins in Napa Valley Vineyards | Flora Springs Winery Napa Valley

 

What’s wonderful about mustard season? It’s almost like Spring begins early in Napa Valley, the perfect time to get out in the mild weather, and enjoy the relative “quiet” before the summer season of Wine Tasting kicks in. The end of the Mustard Season is signaled by bud-break, usually at the beginning of March – which signals the start of the new growing season. Visit Napa Valley expertly rounds up the happenings in the area for the Mustard Season.

What is Mustard Used for?

Believed to have originated in Ancient Egypt, the Greeks used Mustard as a medicine and a spice. Adopted later by the Romans Mustard seeds are commonly used as spices. The seeds can be ground down and mixed with water or Vinegar and Turmeric to make the popular condiment ‘prepared mustard’. The seeds can also be pressed to make mustard oil, and the leaves are also edible.

Our Vineyards

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. Read more about our vineyards here.

California’s Fog Is Fading Away — Now What?

October 17, 2023

The Effects of Fog in Grape Growing in Napa Valley

Flora Springs Winemaker Enriquo Bertoz gives his opinions on the effects of Fog on Grape-Growing to Wine Enthusiast.

Fog is to central and Northern California’s wine country what garrigue is to Southern France’s—it’s an intrinsic part of California wine’s character.

Effects of Fog on Grape-Growing

Fog acts like a cool sip of water on a hot day for parched vines—not as great as a dip in the pool (rain), but better than the alternative (nothing).

“Fog acts like a stress reliever during the summer,” says Fulldraw Vineyard’s cofounder and winemaker, Connor McMahon. “In drought years especially, I love seeing fog, because it holds moisture in soil, tucks it in like a blanket. Fog can also protect grapes from the sun. In Paso Robles, it gets so hot—in August and September we had six days of 115 degrees. A little bit of fog makes a huge difference.”

But McMahon says that since 2011 when he began working in Paso, he’s seen a significant decrease in fog events. In a bid to create relief for struggling grapes, McMahon says he started using shade cloth in 2013.

“It’s essential to protect the fruit from direct sunlight when the rain and fog aren’t there,” McMahon says. “And we don’t want to overstress our water table and water the grapes all day, which is the alternative.”

Enrico Bertoz, winemaker at Napa’s Flora Springs, has also been alarmed by the drop in fog in recent years. “In the past few years, we have experienced a decline in the duration of the fog during the summer months,” Bertoz notes. “Ten years ago, the fog lasted through much of the day, and now it burns up more quickly in the morning. Where most of our vineyards are located in Rutherford and Oakville, we receive fog from both the San Pablo Bay and the Chalk Hill Gap in the Mayacamas, which is incredibly important.”

Bertoz explains that the fog helps “retain natural acidity in the grapes and prevent sunburn and heat damage.” And this year, Bertoz is happy to report, the growing season has delivered plenty of fog, something he also links to a longer growing season, which in turn ensures even ripening and full phenolic maturity.

At this point, a clear, traceable line from fog—or the lack thereof—to definitive effects on the development of grapes has not been established. Observations like Bertoz’s are backed up by one of the only comprehensive academic studies of fog’s impact on vegetation in general, published in Geophysical Research Letters.

Tracking the impact of fog through satellite imagery and remote sensing data, researchers say that fog has a “continuous positive impact” on vegetation in drier regions. Fog, the authors write, helps plants maintain “photosynthetic function and sustain biogeochemical dynamics,” and can reduce drought stress by up to 36% off the coast of southern California.

At Flora Springs, when the fog doesn’t deliver that much-needed hit of moisture, they cope by “adding plenty of water and pruning as few leaves as possible [to encourage shading] in the fruit zone to ensure as much water as possible was retained within the vines,” Bertoz explains, adding that the periodic watering helps counteract what would otherwise be an “expedited sugar ripening process.”

Take Nothing for Granted

Coming off the wettest winter in decades, winemakers are clear on one thing: Nothing is a given anymore.

Joe Nielsen, general manager and winemaker at Ram’s Gate Winery in Sonoma, concurs that fog is another shifting factor that vintners should begin to monitor.

“I come from the Midwest, and when I came to Northern California, the fog struck me as such an anomaly,” Nielsen says. “Fog is so important, because it acts as a natural air condition, and is essential for mitigating both the highs and lows of temperature during the growing season.”

Anecdotally, Nielsen says that he’s noticed differences in the fog, but says he couldn’t begin to estimate how much it has changed.

“There’s no way I could say we get 20% more or less at this point,” Nielsen admits. “It’s just clearly more erratic, along with everything else. But winemaking is just getting more refined every day, and because fog is so important to grape-growing, we definitely plan to monitor it more closely. We measure and track everything else in the vineyard—why not fog?”

“The weather has been so weird for the past years, it’s clear that we can’t take anything for granted,” says Dave Low, winemaker at Papapietro Perry in Healdsburg. “We’ve definitely noticed less fog in the past few years, but I haven’t noticed that it has led to a chemical difference in the grapes. They look the same, and they taste the same. But we are picking them a month earlier than we used to, and some of that is probably due to less fog.”

Fog, Low says, is something he plans to keep an eye on in the coming years, to establish if there is any link between a reduction of fog and changes in the glass.

Our Vineyards

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. Read more about our vineyards here.

Flora Springs 2022 Rosé Featured in Forbes Magazine

August 16, 2023

Note: The article excerpted below was originally published in Forbes Magazine and can be found here.

Featured in Forbes Magazine Rose Feature | Flora Springs Winery Napa Valley

 

“Think Pink: Barbie Would Approve of a Picnic of Tinned Fish and Rosé”
By Jeanne O’Brien Coffey

Pink wine. Lush orangey-pink salmon spread. How could you go wrong?

Everyone else is tying into the Barbie juggernaut, so why can’t I? Tinned fish is so versatile — in Sauternes, France, they mix sardines with cream cheese and serve it on crackers paired with Sauternes wine, naturally. For that combination, choose a young bright one, with less of the sweet intensity of an aged bottle.

We are in our pink era. So, let’s talk rosé. I’m always singing the praises of rosé as a wine that goes with everything year-round — and honestly, most Provencal rosés are custom-made to pair with fish.

The more berry-cherry offerings from other parts of the world, made with different varietals, can be a bit trickier, but there’s likely a tinned fish for every rosé. Toss a couple cans into a beach bag with some fancy crackers or a loaf of French bread — maybe some smoked olives and some sliced in-season cucumbers—and you have a perfect meal in no time that travels anywhere.

Flora Springs 2022 Rosé and smoked salmon: This cherry-fruit-forward rosé ($32), made from a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot and Vermentino grapes, is sustainably-farmed in Napa Valley. The big fruit flavors make it a perfect pairing with luscious (and trendy) Fishwife smoked salmon.

Fleurs de Prairie with Sardines: This lovely subtle rosé from the Languedoc ($20), with its lightly pineapple nose and dry minerally strawberry palate, is a good pairing with rich, oily Siesta Co. sardines. Made mainly with Grenache Noir and Syrah, it’s got good structure, yet even adding a squeeze of lemon to tame the oiliness of the fish, the acidity of the wine doesn’t overwhelm. And of course it’s a brilliant way to get your Omega-3s.

Proxies Non-Alcohol canned Sparkling Rosé and vegan tinned fish: While Proxies’ bone dry, limited edition beverage ($30/six-pack), made from a blend of Riesling juice and strawberries with white tea and lime zest, would totally pair with actual fish, it seems fun to serve a wine-substitute with a fish substitute — and the Mushroom Snow Crab from Seed to Surf totally fills the bill, with its sweet-savory profile. The rosé is crushable— luscious bright berry flavors and a hit of citrus balanced with good mouthfeel and a savory finish.

Beau Joie Rose Champagne and caviar: Caviar counts as tinned fish, right? Although you do need to keep it in a cooler rather than pell-mell in your beach bag. If you add this gorgeous bottle ($130), encased in woven copper and made from a 50 percent Pinot Noir and 50 percent Chardonnay blend, heads are guaranteed to turn. Bubbles in general are palate-cleansing and food friendly, so it’s no great surprise that these are a tasty combination.

Priest Ranch Sparkling Rose and uni: This fruity/peachy wine ($60), made from 100 percent syrah grapes, is less restrained than the Beau Joie, and might stand up better to some of the stronger tinned fish — I could see it being very nice with smoked mussels. Or Priest Ranch Estate Chef Dan Solomon suggests La Brujula sea urchin would be a nice complement — rich and buttery with a deep-sea flavor. If you’re feeling fancy, chef says sea urchin is best chilled, and served on warm brioche toast with a squeeze of lemon and fresh herbs (top with caviar to really gild the lily).

Flora Springs Rosé

Our 2022 Napa Valley Rosé is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot and Vermentino grapes and is made the wine using a classic technique known as Saignée. Once the handpicked grapes arrived at the winery, we whole-cluster pressed the fruit, removing the juice from the grape skins quickly in order to preserve freshness and imbue the wine with a lovely, light pink color. Learn more about this wine.

Wine Tasting in Napa Valley

We invite you to our St. Helena Tasting Room in Napa Valley for wine tasting while enjoying views of flourishing vineyards and the western hillsides. Plan your Napa Valley trip.

“Lauded as one of Napa Valley’s local hidden gems, the St. Helena winery and tasting room offer visitors a relaxing respite to learn some of Napa’s unique history and experience some of the region’s top-rated Cabernet, Chardonnay, single varietal, and Bordeaux blends, including their award-winning Trilogy.” — Napa Valley Life Magazine

Our Family’s Napa Valley Vineyards

The Komes and Garvey Family has 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. Read more about our treasure trove of vineyards.

Flora Springs Featured in Luxe Beat Magazine

July 7, 2023

Note: The article excerpted below was originally published in Luxe Beat Magazine and can be found here.

Flora Springs Winery Featured in Luxe Beat Magazine

“Summer Cheese, Clambake and Wine Party”
By Jill Weinlein

Summer has officially commenced, and to help celebrate the warm weather, serve a variety of cheese and wine before your clambake party!

Start with great cheese. My favorites to enjoy include Laura Chenel, a Sonoma, California producer of fresh and aged goat cheeses. Its sister brand Marin French Cheese, is California’s oldest cheese company. They have been making handmade artisan cheese at their historic creamery in Northern California since 1865. They combine traditional French cheesemaking techniques with an innovative spirit. The third is Beehive Cheese made in Utah, known as the Beehive State.

Marin French Cheese Golden Gate is a triple crème cheese offering rich and savory notes with a touch of funkiness. This cheese is best served with Flora Springs Napa Valley Family Estate wine. It was named “Best Hidden Gem Winery” in 2020 in Napa Valley Life Magazine. Founded in 1978, the estate vineyards were planted in the late 1800s. Vineyards are located in St. Helena, Oakville, Carneros, Napa Valley, Rutherford, and the Oak Knoll District. Red wines include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. White wines offered include Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé and Vermentino.

Flora Springs Napa Valley Wines

After farming our Napa Valley vineyards for over 40 years — we know how it’s done. Learn more about our wines.

Wine Tasting in Napa Valley

We invite you to our St. Helena Tasting Room in Napa Valley for wine tasting while enjoying views of flourishing vineyards and the western hillsides. Plan your Napa Valley trip.

“Lauded as one of Napa Valley’s local hidden gems, the St. Helena winery and tasting room offer visitors a relaxing respite to learn some of Napa’s unique history and experience some of the region’s top-rated Cabernet, Chardonnay, single varietal, and Bordeaux blends, including their award-winning Trilogy.” — Napa Valley Life Magazine

Our Family’s Napa Valley Vineyards

The Komes and Garvey Family has 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. Read more about our treasure trove of vineyards.

Third Generation Komes-Garvey Family Members Take the Helm

February 25, 2020

Flora Springs Napa Valley Estate Vineyards

The third generation of Napa Valley’s Komes-Garvey family is taking the helm here at Flora Springs. Our family-owned winery with a history dating back over forty years will be led by General Manager Nat Komes, son of Flora Springs Co-Founders John and Carrie Komes. Nat will be joined by his cousins and Proprietors, Michelle Dolge, Nadine McIntosh, Lisa Meyers and Jeannine Ross. Sean Garvey, son of Co-Founders Julie and Pat Garvey, will continue in his role as vineyard manager.

This represents a bright new chapter for Flora Springs in which our family’s next generation can be laser focused on excellent winemaking, customer service and hospitality at our popular Tasting Room in St. Helena, as well as innovative sustainable farming efforts over our family’s 257 acres of prime Napa Valley vineyard land.

“My cousins and I are excited about this new chapter of Flora Springs. Our long time club members and customers should know that the high quality of our wines will not change, nor will our tradition of warm hospitality. If anything, as we put our spin on it, Flora Springs 2.0 will be even better,” says Nat Komes. “I also want to say that we’re very thankful to our parents and grandparents for giving our generation the opportunity to carry on their legacy. They’ve worked hard to pave the way for us.”

With a new leadership team in place, 257 acres of prime Napa Valley vineyard land and an ideal Tasting Room located on Highway 29 in St. Helena, Flora Springs is well-poised for our next chapter. Our family’s vineyards span six sub-appellations and include: P&J Vineyard in St. Helena; select blocks of the Komes Ranch in St. Helena & Rutherford; Garvey Family Vineyard in Rutherford; Windfall Vineyard in Rutherford; Crossroads Ranch in Oakville; Kairos Vineyard in Napa Valley; Red Hen Vineyard in Oak Knoll; and Sunset Knoll Vineyard in Carneros. These vineyards are the consistent, long time sources of Flora Springs’ popular, highly-acclaimed wines, including our flagships, Trilogy and Soliloquy, as well as our Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons.

“My sister Julie and I along with our spouses founded and grew Flora Springs from the ground up, but the wine business has changed since we began,” says John Komes, who noted that the sale of the Komes Ranch was a matter of estate planning. “Our family’s third generation grew up in this business and has a great understanding of it. It’s time for us to pass the baton to them.”

Flora Springs 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. 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. Learn more about our vineyards.

Visit Flora Springs Tasting Room

We look forward to welcoming you in Napa Valley for wine tasting while enjoying views of flourishing vineyards and the western hillsides. Plan your visit today.

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