From the Fields at Neal Vineyards
“Let it hang” have been the words of Mark Neal, leaning on his 56 years of harvest experience in Napa Valley to successfully navigate with patience and confidence, the curveballs recently thrown by Mother Nature this 2022 Harvest Season. First, we had a massive heatwave including over 10 days straight of 90+ degrees (we even recorded 124 in our Rutherford Dust vineyard), followed by rain. The timing of these events had a lot of people on edge in the valley, lots of pick decisions were influenced by the impact the weather was having on the vineyards.
Mark stayed focused on keeping the canopy healthy during the heatwave, knowing we could ride it out, which would allow the vines to replenish, renourish, and revive once the weather normalized. With the majority of our vineyards growing the highly coveted Cabernet Sauvignon varietal, we are one of the few in the valley with our fruit still hanging. The current weather of morning fog followed by 80 degree sunshine, is the perfect finish to bring our fruit to maturity, with the flavors coming back in full force and the phenolics we want to see to create the best wines. We envision harvesting our Rutherford vineyards and possibly our Legends Block next week, with the remainder of our Howell Mountain Estate a few weeks out. Our winemakers stand ready and our crush pad eagerly awaits the big days ahead of us.
We’ll keep you updated once the real action begins!
Mark Neal is considered the most prominent organic and biodynamic farmer in Napa Valley and currently farms the most significant certified organic acreage, 841 acres, as the owner of both Jack Neal and Son Vineyard Management (JNS) and Neal Family Vineyards.
Additionally, he’s consulting with a notable wine management group on the transition of 450 conventionally farmed acres to certified organic. Over the years, Mark has collected generational knowledge working alongside his father, developed tools for precise farming and viticulture needs, and invented technological tools that result in the most elegant and complex wines. Mark has worked in the wine business since 1966, and during that time, he’s assembled passionate teams at both JNS and Neal Family Vineyards that now include four of his children. Mark is the true definition of a vigneron.