Vineyard and Wines
It is said by Burgundian vinters that the grape is simply a vehicle that allows the vineyard to express itself. Shibumi Knoll is located in the center of the Napa Valley .3 miles off Highway 29 and a quarter mile from the Napa River. It is on the alluvial fan of Mill Creek and is composed of 80% rock. Thus the wine shows the grace of Napa Valley Cabernet yet has the structure we see in wines from stony hillside vineyards. We harvest the grapes when they are ripe but not overly so. Therefore our Cabernet shows many qualities of a great red Bordeaux. Because of these qualities it is a favorite at The French Laundry.
Our first vintage of Shibumi Cabernet was the 2003. The grapes were processed at Benessere Winery located about a half mile north of Shibumi Knoll. There, while watching the grapes being processed, Don met another vintner, Eugena Keegan, who was bringing in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes from Sonoma County. Eugena asked Don if he’d like to barrel taste her wines. The last wine he tasted, a chardonnay from Buena Tierra Vineyards, he felt was stunning. Eugena was moving to Oregon so he approached the owner of Buena Tierra Vineyards, located on the Russian River in Sonoma county about buying the grapes. The owner explained that because the vines were 35 years old and grape production was down, he was going to replant the 2.4-acre block. Don offered to pay full production price for whatever grapes were harvested, an agreement which has continued for 12 years.
The Shibumi Knoll Buena Tierra Chardonnay has proven to be among the best in the country. The 2005 vintage received a 97 from The Wine Spectator, tied for the highest score given California Chardonnay in the first decade of this century.
This ancient block of vines has produced some incredible Chardonnay vintage after vintage.
In the summer of 2012 Don was walking the Buena Tierra Vineyard with Thomas Brown when Thomas pointed to a small block of Swan clone Pinot Noir and said “I could make some great Pinot Noir from these grapes.” 2012 was our first vintage from this block. Our Pinot Noir is a favorite of many among the wines we produce.