March brings the promise of new life in the northern hemisphere; livestock, crops and vines spring into life and begin to flourish. Whether you are witnessing budbreak in Rutherford, Napa, or watching for lambing Ewes in Dorset, the arrival of Spring signifies a period of great activity and hard work in the agricultural world.
Garen and Shari founded The Staglin Family Vineyard in 1985 and they take great pride in their continued family ownership. Their zeal to produce world class wines that truly reflect the character of their Rutherford Bench Estate in Napa Valley, with the aid of viticulturist David Abreu, has never faltered. The estate dates back to 1868, and the Staglin Family view themselves modestly as ‘stewards’ of the land, the latest in a historic line. The vineyards are farmed organically and the family remain committed to a sustainable future. The state of the art underground production facility means that the wine is given every opportunity to reach its full potential; each stage of the winemaking process, from soil to shelf, is painstakingly considered.
March in the Napa valley is a time of fervent activity and Shari Staglin (CEO of the Staglin Family Vineyards) in particular relishes watching the vineyards bursting into life. Equally, their winemaker, Frederik Johansson, keeps an eagle eye on conditions on the estate, assessing how this may affect the future cuvee.
Staglin produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and a small crop of Sangiovese; whilst their wines unquestionably reflect their ‘terroir’, there is a consistency of style which is bold, structured and elegant, for which they have become known over the last 30yrs.
Business in the vineyard is currently brisk; every care and consideration is taken to assist the vines in their moment of awakening from seasonal dormancy; cover crop is mown, diced up and returned to the soil, canes are tied and the vineyards scrutinised for any signs of pest or fungal infection (with Staglin being organic they do not ascribe to using chemical fertilisers, pesticides nor herbicides). As the cover crop decomposes under the soil, it omits heat which helps the vines move towards budbreak, which is expected in early-mid March. Shari has noted that the initial signs of budbreak are already appearing “last week it was 78°F in the vineyard and the mustard is in full bloom…. the first pruning is now finished on the upper 25yr old block and we’re now looking towards the western foothills under which our winery caves dwell. These vines were left unpruned, and will be cut soon and then tested for any trace of disease, and if clean can be used for future ‘budwood’ when replanting takes place”.
The canes found on these particular vines are from the original clone used in the Staglin vineyards, thus completing the circle of life and emphasis on heritage which lies at the heart of the estate. The clone has now become native because of its long term existence here (over 25yrs years). When the vine becomes ‘native’, having adapted to its environment, the grape yield, quality and efficiency of nutrient transport in the vine are at their peak. These canes will be used to propagate new clones on the vineyard and when replanting is required, it will come from the original vines from the estate, the true essence of sustainable farming.
The Staglin family, Shari, Garen Staglin along with their daughter Shannon and son Brandon, are well known in Napa and have a reputation for producing some of the finest wines in the region. It is no coincidence that to produce these fine wines so much care and time is invested in the vineyards, long before anything happens in the winery.