Thursday, July 5, 2012

Gemstone Vineyards

What’s the latest report from your local Napa connection? Well, not to rub it in, but life here is pretty frickin’ amazing. Sunshine, mid 70s to 80s, no rain in sight. This is how we remember summer; we’re right on track and it is shaping up to be a great vintage (fingers crossed). Vibrant green vineyards flank the valley’s arteries and each drive along them seems more picturesque than the previous. You can almost witness the vine tendrils unfurling ever skyward grasping at the sunshine. At this point the grapes can’t be much bigger than peas. Yet, these hard little pellets hold so much potential – in a few months they will become the juice of this vintage. As a winemaker told me recently, “The steady ramping up of heat has made things easier; the vines really seem happy this year.”

Nowhere is this sense of Mother Nature’s bounty been more evident than on a recent trip to Gemstone Vineyards. Molly Roberts and Elizabeth Vianello welcomed our small group on a recent cloudless morning. As we pulled off of Silverado Trail and into their gravel road we beheld workers busily tending the immaculate micro-block vineyards. Gemstone is a compelling reason to believe in the equation: vineyard quality = quality wine.

Going in, we knew a few things about the place. We’ve had the joy of pouring the ’09 Gemstone Estate Red Wine by the glass at our Wine Bar of late so we knew to expect quality but we had no idea just how far they were willing to go to achieve it. Molly and Elizabeth enlightened us; first, they drop quite a bit of green fruit so that the vines can concentrate on a few good clusters. Then at harvest time they “cherry pick” the best clusters which means that sometimes there’s what may appear to be plenty of crop still on the vine after they’re done. The recent year’s dearth of high quality grapes has squeezed the market tighter than a 10 foot boa constrictor and this revelation too, took our breath away. As a side note to all of you would-be winemakers – don’t even bother asking, that second crop is not for the taking. They’re just that serious about what they do.

To that end they’ve revamped their label design to better fit the wine inside; modern, clean and multi-faceted. Just like their space, the wines are inviting and plush. They’ve got a firm grasp of what we love to call “luxury goods with a blue jeans style.” Needless to say; it was hard to leave (shoot, it was hard not to drink every drop in sight).

--Katy Long
Content Manager

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