Vines are awakening and welcoming the new vintage in Napa Valley.
Activities in the vineyard and cellar are starting to pick up with new energy again.
In the Vineyards….
The 2022 winegrowing season is upon us.
At the beginning of the month, we saw our cover crops grow very well as a result of the early winter rains and as is typical for this time of year, the mustard is in bloom. The winegrowing season always begins with pruning and tying the vines, and these critical activities are completed across all of the Neal Family vineyards throughout the Napa Valley.
The flowering mustard throughout the Napa Valley serves as the first source of food (pollen and nectar) for all the native bees and other beneficial insects that are part of the Neal Family Vineyards ecosystem. While we have already received more rain in preparation for the 2022 season compared to the entire previous 2021 season (roughly 15-18 inches), we are still well below average and at this point facing our third year of drought.
With some warm days in the middle of February, our cherry blossoms, daffodils, and tulips arrived early. Various other vineyard activities that normally begin later in the year due to wet grounds, have begun since it is dry. After all, we have to keep up with and respond to the natural cycle of Mother Nature. With an eye on the weather forecast, we are judiciously planning the next steps in the vineyard, specifically our first mowing passes within the rows and underneath the vines.
With the warm February days, some of the Howell Mountain vines woke up, showing what we call the “popcorn”phase or pre-bud break up. Recently, it has cooled off quite a bit (we even have had some snow) which has slowed down the growth of the vines again. Just like the 2021 vintage, drought years do bring odd weather. The air is dryer and we are seeing lower temperatures at night-. We started our frost protection for our properties that include wind machines, smudge pots, and sprinklers very early in the morning.
Fingers crossed everyone; hopefully we will receive additional rainfall over the next 2-3 months which will fully recharge our soils, setting up our vineyards and the vintage for a successful season.
In the Winery……
Besides bottling our first ever Vermentino and releasing it with our 2019 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and 2018 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, we have been slowly gearing up for the new vintage: 2022. Our winemakers are looking into purchasing new barrels based on our anticipated crop for the upcoming year. We continue to watch over our 2021 Cabernet Sauvignons in barrel as we get ready to rack and blend these wines.