The Corona Vineyard is a tiny 3 acre site which sits high in the Western Oakville hills and forms the foundation of Artefact in 2010 and is paired with Kenefick in 2011 and ’12. It is an extraordinary vineyard which is planted on a steep east face in pure shale, planted to clone 337 of Cabernet Sauvignon. It is farmed by the inimitable Roberto Corona.
Al Frediani's father bought this land, now prized for quality soils and climate, just after the beginning of the 20th Century, and Al has been living there ever since. The Carignane vines existed when Al’s father purchased the land, and Al estimates that they are 110 years old. Al planted the Petite Sirah blocks himself in the 1940s. The soils here, at the end of Pickett Road in Calistoga, are some of the most beautiful, rocky golden alluvial soils of volcanic origin in all of Napa Valley. The famous vineyard directly adjacent to the southwest has proven the quality of these soils to the public, but insiders and intelligent winemakers have been crowing about the quality of Al’s site for decades. Now, it’s our turn! Starting in 2009, the Petite Sirah and Carignane wines make up a large portion of Ritual, and in 2010, we began making a vineyard designate Petite Sirah.
Juliana’s is our Napa Valley source for Mourvedre, the core of Ritual. With only approximately 11 acres of Mourvedre planted in the Napa Valley, we are excited to have our acre and a half on an extended contract at Juliana's and to be able to support farmers who continue to champion these varietals that are often underappreciated in the Napa Valley. The organically farmed vines ripen easily in the warm days. The nights, however, are very cold, giving the wine a vibrant nose and keeping the wine fresh. Here we have decomposed volcanic rocks and clay with shale subsoil, providing incredible drainage giving us ripe tannins.
When we were offered the chance to work with Pinot Noir from this top-secret vineyard in the heart of the “true” Sonoma Coast, we jumped at the chance. This is a holy grail kind of site, where everything comes together: perfect soils, clones, exposure, micro-climate, and impeccable farming. This is the source of our Kashaya Pinot Noir. The vineyard is located just 4 miles from the Pacific Ocean above Salt Point State Park in far west Sonoma County. The climate is cool and breezy all year long, but the elevation of the site keeps the fog away, bathing the vines in sunshine in the summer. We work with clones 115 and Old Wente, which together create a complex expression of Pinot Noir at its most profound.
Our blocks at Kenefick Ranch in Calistoga are located across Pickett Road from the old Eisele Vineyard and the Alfred Frediani Vineyard. This is some of the youngest soil in Napa Valley, largely comprised of decomposed volcanic rock and stones which have tumbled down Symmons Canyon and were washed over the millennia into alluvial galets roulées. The soils is extremely well-drained and perfect for growing red grapes in Napa Valley. We work with Cabernet Sauvignon Clones 7, 191, and 341 here as the foundation of Artefact beginning in 2011.
We are incredibly excited to be working with this site in 2013 and beyond. It is located at 1200-1400 feet elevation in the cool Mount Veeder Appellation of Napa Valley. Jim Paras planted this vineyard in 1990 with the idea that it was a great place for Bordeaux varietals AND Rhone varietals, and we couldn’t agree more! The soils are sandstone and shale, on steep terraced hillsides, producing miniscule crops of intensely flavored Grenache. Some of the blocks are densely planted at meter-by-meter spacing, giving even more concentration to the fruit. The resulting wines are full of spice, deep fruit and great clarity and delineation of flavor.
Phoenix Ranch Vineyard
The Phoenix Ranch is our source for Scarpa Syrah. It is located to the northeast of the town of Napa on a gentle hillside composed of pebbly ash and loam soils. The vineyard is farmed biodynamically by Brian Phoenix, bringing out site specificity and the most complexity that is possible in the fruit. In season, it is a veritable verdant garden, showing the effect of these homeopathic viticultural techniques. We use Syrah Noir and Estrella River clones, which are very different expressions of Syrah, bringing out even more complexity. It is one of the rare sites in Napa Valley which shows the cool-climate characteristics we adore.
The famous Stagecoach vineyard is a huge planting in the eastern hills of Napa Valley above Yountville and Oakville. Our block of Cabernet Franc is at the far western edge of Stagecoach above Oakville, and is planted on a steep slope in red Aiken soils. It is always a late ripening site, and the complexity and structure that emerge with hangtime are astounding. This is the foundation, along with the Frediani Vineyard, of The Prior Cabernet Franc.