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!

A Ground Breaking Innovation: Rutherford Hillside Reserve Single Vineyard Cabernet

June 3, 2021

We’re often asked which of our Single Vineyard Cabernets is our favorite, and the answer is always the same: we love them all! But our Rutherford Hillside Reserve does hold a special place in our hearts, as it was the first Single Vineyard Cabernet we produced.

It was 1994, and in Napa Valley, wines bottled exclusively from one vineyard were still somewhat rare. But John Komes recognized there was something special about a group of vines located on the slope leading up to the northwestern edge of our estate in the Rutherford appellation. He kept the wine from this block separate, and bottled less than 50 cases on its own, dubbing it the Rutherford Hillside Reserve. John’s instinct proved prescient: when our first Rutherford Hillside Reserve Cabernet was released in 1997 the Wine Spectator awarded it 96 points.

John Komes brings in Cabernet Sauvignon destined for our Rutherford Hillside Reserve
John Komes brings in grapes from the Komes Ranch in Rutherford

 

Five Years Earlier

1994 wasn’t the first time this block was bottled on its own. Beginning in 1989, Flora Springs produced a Rutherford Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from the same vines. In fact, the 1991 Flora Springs Rutherford Reserve Cabernet earned 97 points and the #3 spot on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list in 1994.

Library Vintage of Flora Springs Single Vineyard Wines

Flora Springs’ Rutherford Reserve was the predecessor to our Rutherford Hillside Reserve. In 1994 John added “Hillside” to the name, creating the first vineyard-designated wine from Flora Springs.

2008 Rutherford Hillside Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

The label has changed over the years, but our Rutherford Hillside Reserve is still grown on our estate vineyard in Rutherford.

Rutherford Dust

The Rutherford AVA is arguably one of the finest places to grow Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley, and the location of our Rutherford Hillside Reserve vineyard, on the western slopes of the AVA on what is often called the Rutherford Bench, is one of the most coveted in the appellation. Our vineyard lies on a gentle incline leading up toward the Mayacamas Mountains. Here the soils rest on a gravelly bed deposited by an old stream, providing excellent drainage. The climate, moderately warm with occasional morning fog and frequent afternoon breezes, is ideally suited to Cabernet. The combination of soil and climate results in a unique flavor profile referred to as “Rutherford Dust,” often described as powdery-soft dusty tannins with notes of fine cocoa powder.

Looking east to the Napa Valley floor from our vines on the Rutherford Bench
Looking east to the Napa Valley floor from our vines on the Rutherford Bench
New plantings for the Rutherford Hillside Reserve
New plantings for the Rutherford Hillside Reserve

 

2019: A Stellar Vintage

The early part of the 2019 growing season was defined by heavy rainfall which replenished reservoirs and gave the soils plenty of moisture. A long, warm summer featured few extreme heat events, and the typically foggy mornings set the stage for vibrant and expressive wines. Harvest was long and relatively mild, helping to preserve freshness and finesse in the fruit with extended hang time teasing out great color, structure and soft tannins. Crop volume was average to a little less than average. In the end, it was another amazing vintage yielding exceptional fruit with bright acidity and ample flavor and texture. The 2019 Rutherford Hillside Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine you can drink now or cellar, it will continue to age through 2037.

2018: A Vintage for the Ages

2018 brought a long, steady and near-ideal growing season to Napa Valley, yielding wines of intensity, concentration and balance. Our 2018 Rutherford Hillside Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in French and American oak for 18 months, offers pure Cabernet fruit centered on currant, blackberry and black cherry, with ancillary notes of brown spice, dark chocolate and espresso. It is a complex, full-bodied wine that finishes with ripe, chewy tannins. This is the Cabernet you bring out when you want to impress. It will age beautifully for at least another 15 years.

2018 Rutherford Hillside Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Our 2018 Rutherford Hillside Reserve is a showstopper

 

Your Cellar Will Thank You

The Rutherford Hillside Reserve is one of Flora Springs’ most age worthy Cabernets, a wine that will provide enjoyment for ten, fifteen or even twenty years when properly cellared. Each year we make a certain amount of the previous and/or older vintages available on a limited basis. Be sure to check the store on our website for these periodic library releases.

The Places In Between

August 10, 2020

One of the many reasons Napa Valley is such a superb region for growing wine grapes is its incredible diversity. Although a mere 30 miles long and several miles wide, the valley is home to a wide range of microclimates and a vast array of soil types. Over the years, this diversity has led vintners and growers to create defined grape growing areas within Napa Valley. These areas, which reflect their regional designations, are called American Viticultural Areas, or AVAs.

Famous Napa Valley Sign

The Napa Valley is itself an AVA having received its own designation in 1981. It is California’s first recognized AVA and the second in the United States. Over time, sixteen “nested” AVAs have been designated within the Napa Valley AVA. Flora Springs owns and farms vineyards in five of these, including the St. Helena, Rutherford, Oakville, Oak Knoll and Los Carneros AVAs.

But what about the places in between, the regions in Napa Valley that are not part of a nested AVA? If you look at a Napa Valley AVA map, you can see there are several areas that lay outside of the nested AVAs, in fact, our Kairos Vineyard, home to our Out of Sight Cabernet Sauvignon, is in one such area.

Kairos is just south of the Stags Leap District, kind of wedged between the Stags Leap, Oak Knoll and Coombsville AVAs,” says General Manager Nat Komes. “So when we bottle the Out of Sight Cabernet, we use the Napa Valley appellation on the label. But that doesn’t have any bearing on the quality of the vineyard or wine.”

In fact, there are plenty of properties renowned for high quality grapes and wines that do not lie within a nested AVA. Examples include sites that are between the St. Helena and Howell Mountain AVAs as well as vineyards found east of Oakville in the mountainous area known as Pritchard Hill.

For now, says Nat, “The Kairos Vineyard is a perfect example of the quality that can come from areas outside the nested AVA system.” For proof, look no further than Flora Springs Out of Sight Cabernet Sauvignon.

Out of Sight Cabernet Sauvignon

Rutherford Dust Society: Day in the Dust Tasting

July 19, 2019

The Rutherford AVA produces some of the most critically-acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignons in Napa Valley, and each year, the Rutherford Dust Society (RDS), of which Flora Springs is a member, holds an exclusive tasting it calls “Day in the Dust.”

Normally open only to trade and media, the tasting this year will be open for the first time to consumers in celebration of RDS’s 25th Anniversary. On top of that, it will be held at the prestigious and beautiful St. Francis Yacht Club!

The tasting will feature new-release Cabernet Sauvignons from incredible Rutherford producers, including our own Winemaker Paul Steinauer who will pour our 2016 Rutherford Hillside Reserve. There will also be light snacks, a fun photo booth, and the best view of the Bay from the St. Francis Yacht Club. Attendance is limited to 200 people, so get your tickets today.

Learn more and purchase tickets.

Winemaker Update 2017 #4

September 8, 2017

Merlot in Our Estate Vineyards

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.

Harvest 2017
Vineyard Crew at The Estate

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!

Harvest 2016 Update #4

October 5, 2016

Flora Springs Harvest 2016

“Well, Mother Nature once again threw us a bit of a curve ball – We experienced 3 days around 100F, then it cooled off and actually had some showers on Sunday & Monday this week. The good news is that none of that has effected the grapes to any degree at all. We have harvested approximately 80% of our fruit thus far and the remaining grapes will be brought in by the end of next week. We have a handful of blocks on the Komes Ranch in the Rutherford Appellation – Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot and Cabernet Franc. We also have a few blocks of Cabernet Sauvignon at our Crossroads Ranch in the Oakville Appellation as well. We are just waiting for these blocks to garner a more complex flavor profile before we pick them.”
—Winemaker Paul Steinauer

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