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The long and cool 2011 vintage produced a Pinot Gris of pure beauty. Low yields, the result of spring rains that came during flowering, provided an intensity balanced by crisp, mouth-watering acidity. A pop of the glass closure reveals a vivacious wine with aromas of lime, verbena, pear, melon and layers of spice and mineral; a wine that is tasty now, but is guaranteed to develop an enticing bottle patina as it ages.
The 2011 Pinot Gris is SOLD OUT!
We are winegrowers.
When Gray is Green…
Can an industrial wasteland preserve Napa agriculture?
Growth happens. Like gravity’s effect on an aging body, you can only try to mitigate its impact but eventually the laws of nature will prevail. Napa is a desirable place to live and work so no matter what you do to regulate growth, people will find a way to live here.
I consider myself an environmentalist and conservationist. My knee jerk reaction is to say “no” to all housing developments… but that’s not a realistic stance. Saying “no” can mean not taking responsibility, often deferring and compounding the problem by allowing “under the radar” development to occur by default. The trick is to say “yes” to intelligent growth, growth that won’t consume limited agrarian land, growth that concentrates populations near easy access to major roads or, better yet, creates a diverse mixed use community that can walk or bike to shop, work and play.
As you enter Napa Valley from the south, there is an abandoned industrial park. Once, not too long ago, this was the home of Basalt Rock, a WWII era ship manufacturing plant that later sold to Kaiser Steel and then became Napa Pipe – the company that made the pipes that funnel the water from Lake Hennessy to Napa homes and businesses. It was felled by the same pressure destroying most heavy manufacturing in the US – it’s just too expensive to compete with overseas factories.
I recently taught a photography class to my daughter and her friend at Napa Pipe that provided an up close and personal look at this controversial piece of Napa. Though it happens to reside along a particularly beautiful stretch of the Napa River, it is a paved-over, industrial wasteland consisting of abandoned warehouses, cranes, docks and other industrial detritus. It can no longer serve agriculture (unless someone wants to attempt an aquaculture operation raising catfish!) but the cost of the land alone is prohibitive, never mind the cost of rehabilitation - and it’s already been proven that it’s not a cost effective location for heavy industry. So it remains, an industrial badlands, deserted and rotting upon a beautiful shore.
Along comes a developer who proposes a solution – a mix use of homes, commercial and light industry. It is a sizable development, so much so that the sheer number of homes scares people and conjures a NIMBY attitude. However, this project appears to be intelligently scaled to create a critical mass whereas local businesses can be supported by a nearby population able to arrive via a network of bike paths or, heaven forbid, a short stroll. But the most appealing aspect of this project is the conversion of the docks into communal recreational areas, taking advantage of the Napa River.
I’m not going to argue the individual merits of this project, but I am going to argue one point: The more homes built in this industrial wasteland will mean fewer homes that need to be built in prime agricultural land… and that will serve the agrarian interest of this valley for years to come. Sometimes being an environmentalist means delving into the gray area of the real world that, at first glance, might seem counter to a conservationist philosophy - but in this case gray is green.
Paler Shade of Gris
RSV’s Pinot Gris is a wine made with a light touch. Some styles of Pinot Gris, when left on the skins during fermentation, can have bitterness from tannins and an oily texture. RSV chooses a lighter approach by whole cluster pressing the wine, where the absence of color and tannins from skin contact results in an ethereal quality. While RSV’s pale gold Pinot Gris has some weight and richness on the mid-palate, it remains clean and refreshing on the finish. The texture of the wine provides supple support to the bright pear and melon flavors, with an underlying hint of spice.
The textures and flavors of RSV’s Pinot Gris are a delightful match for shrimp tacos. The slight spice of chile with the sweetness of the shrimp and corn tortillas meet up nicely with the fruit and spice of the wine. Homemade tortillas are fun to make especially if you have a group that likes to cook! Have fun with the tacos and the Pinot Gris. I’ve also included a couple of mini-quesadilla recipes to start the party.
We are winegrowers. We nurture every grape for every wine we produce, selecting the sites that best express the inherent character of the chosen variety. The Three Amigos Vineyard is ideal for Pinot Gris. The cool maritime climate of the Carneros with its long, dry growing seasons, produces grapes that are physiologically ripe with good natural acidity.
The 2011 vintage was a particularly long, cool one. A night harvest helped preserve the fresh, bright character of the grapes (from a single block of RSV’s certified Biodynamic and organic Three Amigos Vineyard) by reducing the risk of splitting, oxidation or premature fermentation as the cool, firm grapes arrive at the cellar in top condition.
Whole cluster pressing, a long, cool fermentation in stainless steel and avoiding malolactic fermentation emphasizes the grapes’ inherent character for a bright, elegant and food friendly wine.