Extreme Winemaking

Extreme Winemaking

Winegrowing on Mt. Veeder is not for the timid. The usual practices must be forgotten at high elevations, where thin soils barely hold water, and rocky terrain challenges both rootstock and man. Winter rains must be captured, and erosion prevented. Often, a spade, a pick, a shovel, and determination are the hallmarks that bring things back to basics, where rewards come from hard manual labor.

A selection of four Cabernet Sauvignon clones (191, 4, 8, and 337) and three rootstocks (3309C, 101-14, and 1103P) have been chosen to meet the challenges of mountain winegrowing. Soils are sparse, a gravelly loam with rocks large and small. Nutrients and minerals are scant, resulting in tiny berries with concentrated and complex flavors.

At harvest, small lug boxes must be carefully moved up and down steep slopes to protect both vines and vineyard workers. The work is hard and labor-intensive. Little mechanized modern technology is found here.

The growing season on Mt. Veeder moves slowly, with harvest here stretching into November, another reminder of how extreme the challenge, but how rewarding the results can be.