Experience the generous hospitality of Flora Springs at our annual Trilogy Release Party, where we pull out all the stops to celebrate our newest vintage of Trilogy at our lovely estate in St. Helena. In an effort to capture the sense of the vintage, with wine, food, music and excitement each year we plan surprises that make each Release Party special. You’ll be treated to an assortment of experiences to please the palate and awaken the senses and have the most fun wine country has to offer.See more details and watch our latest video to see what we have in store for you!
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.
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!
We invite our Wine Country Neighbors to join us at The Room. Stop by for a wine flight, check out our new tasting experiences, or enjoy our Vineyard Courtyard picnic area and Rooftop Lounge, both with stunning views of Napa Valley’s western hillsides and vineyards.
Enjoy extended benefits and offerings just for locals:
Complimentary “The Room” Tasting and 10% off wine purchases at The Room – now available seven days a week for the month of July!
Valid for Wine Country residents plus one guest, with proof of residency
Located directly on Highway 29 next to Dean & DeLuca in St. Helena, our friendly, relaxed tasting room is open daily from 10 am – 5 pm.
We are open the Fourth of July. If you’re in town for the holiday, come on in – we look forward to hosting you!
The Room’s modern design mimics the hillside caves and natural springs of our Estate winery, located just down the road. Our Cave Rooms are available for private group tastings hosted by our friendly, informative hospitality staff.
Today, we’re headed to Napa for a red wine from one of my favorite producers:
2015 Napa Valley Merlot produced & bottled by Flora Springs (St. Helena, California).
This wine is 100% merlot from the Napa Valley. Following fermentation, the wine was aged for 19 months in a combination of new and used oak barrels. It comes in at 14.2% ABV.
Here it is in the glass:
The wine showed a dark ruby color. Blackberry, cassis, mocha, vanilla, plum and oak all arrived on the deep and alluring nose. Blackberry, black cherry, cassis, vanilla, plum and oak followed on the palate. The wine exhibited great structure and length, along with soft tannins. This wine would pair well with a grilled hanger steak.
“Everyone who knows me knows I have an affinity for wild boars. That’s why we named one of our Single Vineyard Cabernets Wild Boar. My first encounter with this animal happened back in the mid-1970s, when my dad retired from Bechtel. He was looking for land to invest his money in. At the time, land in Napa Valley cost $25,000 an acre, and Dad wasn’t ready to pay that much. But in Pope Valley land was ‘cheap’ – only $1,000 an acre. He found 100 acres that had a lake, walnut trees, etc. The owner said he’d sell it, and my Dad thought he had a deal. Then he read somewhere that Louis Martini had bought it. Apparently the owner wanted to sell to a ‘local.’
So, my dad bought a place next door, 500 acres, 60 of them planted. There was an old house on the property with nine bedrooms and eight bathrooms but no living room. (One can only surmise what that house was used for!) My dad asked me if I could build him a living room – I was still a contractor at the time.
So I hired some guys, and one of them was up on a scaffold doing some plastering and he saw a wild boar grazing nearby. He called me and said ‘John, there’s a wild boar on your property. Can I shoot him?’ I said ‘Why don’t you call the game warden?’ He said ‘John, a wild boar is a varmint; all I need is your permission.’ I said ‘Ok, as long as you give me the hind quarter.’ So he got his gun, and he shot it. A few minutes later I get a call from my dad: ‘John, John! One of your guys just shot the neighbor’s pig!’”
Addendum: “I did finish that house, and we put it up for sale, along with 20 acres. A woman who was the ex-mayor of Coronado wanted to buy it, said she wanted to live in the country. But she didn’t know if she could manage 20 acres…could we make it 10 for the same price? Done!”
We’ve decked the halls and invite our Wine Country Neighbors to join us at The Room to celebrate the season. Revel in our festive holiday atmosphere and enjoy extended benefits and offerings just for locals:
Complimentary Signature Tasting and 10% off on wine purchases at The Room – now available seven days a week for the month of December!
Valid for Wine Country residents plus one guest, with proof of residency
Please make a reservation for groups of six or more
Located directly on Highway 29 in St Helena, The Room is open daily from 10 am – 5 pm.
The Room’s modern design mimics the hillside caves and natural springs of our Estate winery, located just down the road in St. Helena. Here you’ll find our Vineyard Courtyard picnic area and Rooftop Lounge, both with stunning views of vineyards and western hillsides. Our Cave Rooms are available for private group tastings hosted by our friendly, informative hospitality staff.
Make sure you don’t miss our one-of-a-kind Etched Holiday Wines. Each year we create new holiday artwork to provide unique, limited-edition Napa Valley wines to use as gifts, share with friends or add to your collection. We also offer an array of gift collections, for every taste and every budget.
We have officially picked all of our Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc for the year. We started the Pinot Grigio on August 15th, and finished the Sauvignon Blanc on August 31st.
We then started harvesting the Lavender Hill Chardonnay in Carneros on September 6th. The very next day, we received Merlot from the Estate. This is the earliest date on record for reds.
The last week was pretty crazy…Phoenix-like temperatures in the 115 degree range! On top of that, the valley was blanketed with smoke from a fire burning in Butte County. Fortunately, both have subsided and we are back to average harvest temperatures once again…at least for the time being.
We will be bringing in additional Merlot, as well as Petit Verdot from Oakville, on Monday and Tuesday. Then we will finish up with the last of the white grapes on Wednesday.
The harvest has been pretty fast and furious thus far – keeping things exciting. We were very proactive with our irrigation regimen before and during the heatwave, so the fruit is still in excellent condition. We are extremely pleased with the quality thus far, and expect to make some fantastic wines!
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!