Note the suggestive dribbles on the Sangiovese label.
My brother Mark, the "groundskeeper" for YourGardenShow.com, just celebrated his birthday with friends and family. I don't know much about the wine scene in Des Moines, but I suspect this party ranked at the top of the charts for scarcity and yumminess and Napa Valley style. Mark's art historian wife Loulou and I are responsible for the presence of the Villa Ragazzi Sangiovese at this grand event, but the Dollarhide Cabernet (in my former life I was CEO of St. Supéry) arrived with a discerning guest. An odd coincidence: two days ago we opened a bottle of that same vintage of Dollarhide Cab here in Napa Valley, just for the heck of it. The psychic celebration vibes must have been thrumming.
In 2011 less than half of one percent, or 0.0038, of California's red grape tonnage was Sangiovese, sandwiched between Mission and Carnelian. That was a surprise; we thought Mission was displaced 150 years ago when vitus vinifera arrived in California. Today only about two-thirds of the state's small Sangiovese crop was estate grown, like ours, with wineries purchasing the rest from independent growers. And only 3% of the statewide Sangiovese total came from Napa Valley, less than Napa's overall 4% average. It's a wonder you can find any to drink.
To kudos from authors Kevin Zraly and George Taber, our wine-savvy friend from Austin, Texas, Denman Moody, has just published The Advanced Oenophile. This is exciting because he's an entertaining writer and - ahem - he mentions our wine as one of his favorite California versions of lesser-known European varietals (p.48). For Sangiovese, his California picks are Villa Ragazzi, Altamura, Venge, and Frank Family. (Note that these are all Napa Valley wines...) If you'd like to read the whole book, it is available at http://www.amazon.com/ Thanks, Denman!
Villa Ragazzi is doing its best to keep employment high here in the Napa Valley. Look at the rocks that surfaced during ripping! Many are scarred by the disk that smoothed the ripped field -- the larger ones weigh 50 lbs or more -- so, rather than risk damage to the farm equipment during cultivation, a crew will soon come in to remove these rocks by hand. I don't think we'll have enough for a handsome stone wall, but I can hope. I'll keep you posted as our little vineyard development project progresses.
Next, a crew will remove the churned-up rocks.
Note the orange bar on the back of this tractor. Attached to its ends are curved shanks that are ripping this virgin corner of our vineyard in Oakville for a small, dense Sangiovese planting. Loosening the soil will allow young vines to spread strong root systems. This experienced operator effortlessly avoided my cherished baby Dawn Redwood (yellow flag, left center). The whole job took less than half an hour.