The Vineyards

Our eighty-three vineyard acres drape across the gentle rolling crest of the Mayacamas Mountains some 2000 feet above the floor of the Napa Valley. Being on the mountaintop provides many of the vines with desirable southern exposures, which is unique for a Spring Mountain property.The elevation also puts us above the morning fog that often blankets the Sonoma and Napa Valleys, with the result that the vines are bathed in sunshine from dawn to dusk.

During the growing season, the average temperature at Pride Mountain Vineyards is several degrees cooler than in the Napa Valley, which is beneficial to protecting the natural acidity of the grapes. The daily temperature fluctuations are also much smaller, with morning temperatures being considerably warmer and afternoon temperatures considerably cooler than in the Napa Valley. This results in gradual, steady ripening and long hang times.

Our mountaintop soils derive from volcanic sources and uplifted seabed sediments. The red-hued loams contain a large percentage of cobbles and gravel that provide exceptionally good drainage. As can be seen on our soils map (PDF), the vineyards are planted across six major soil formations. The dominant soil type is the Goulding Cobbly Loam Association, which can be found at the highest elevations of both the Mayacamas and Sonoma Mountains.

Even within the Goulding, there are large variations in clay content and soil depth that require us to make careful varietal and rootstock selections for each vineyard block. At our highest elevations, the leaner faster-draining soils are well adapted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. At lower elevations, the soils are thicker and have a greater amount of clay and are well adapted to Merlot. The small hill in front of the winery is an unusual example of the Spreckels Formation, which has a large percentage of white quartz gravel that can be seen on the surface and that provides great drainage. We have planted Syrah here in order to keep its characteristic vigor in check.

In order for the grapes to achieve a healthful ripeness, it is essential that proper balance be achieved each growing season between the amount of fruit on the vines and the canopy vigor. Factors strongly influencing this fruit-to-canopy balance include the choice of rootstock for each patch of soil, the choice of cover crop, the winter pruning strategies, and the watering strategies. We review and possibly modify our strategies for each of our forty vineyard blocks each and every vintage.

With the growing and ripening season often stretching from April to November, the vine canopy must remain healthy for a lengthy six months, which means disease must be carefully controlled. To control pest insects, we promote the presence of natural predator insects by choosing mildew suppressants in May and June that do not kill off the natural predators, and by maintaining a healthy cover crop. Although not 'organic', our viticultural practices are 'sustainable'. Our year-round vineyard crew of fifteen skilled and well-compensated workers allows us to truly manage our vineyards “vine by vine”.