Harvest season often receives most of the glory, but we like to think that the winter season is one of the most beautiful and exciting times to visit Napa Valley and learn about our vineyards. Gone are the bustling crowds and long waitlists to taste at your favorite Napa winery. Instead, you'll find a serene environment perfect for an in-depth experience to learn about wine from how our grapes go from vine to bottle.
There is something hauntingly beautiful about grapevines in dormancy. The lush, leafy canopies of summertime have retreated, and we're left with dark and twisted trunks and bare canes, soaked from the season's rains. The vines offer a stark contrast to the vibrant greens and yellows from the cover crop growing between the rows. While it's true that the vine's growth above ground comes to a halt during the winter months, its root systems are busy soaking up nutrients, preparing for bud break in the spring.
The work in the vineyard doesn't end at harvest. In fact, winter pruning helps lay the groundwork for the upcoming growing season, determining how many buds will develop, and ultimately how many grape bunches the vine will yield. We'll begin this crucial step near the end of the month, trimming each cane down to the spur where this spring a new bud will form.
Some of the most vital work in the vineyard is not what's happening on the vines, but rather, what's growing between the vines. Planted amongst the rows of vines on the James Cole estate are two kinds of peas, two kinds of vetch, crimson clover and marigold. The rest of the blend is oats and triticale, which is a barley/ryegrass hybrid. While these cover crops offer strikingly beautiful views as they bloom, they also have an incredibly important job to do.
Not only do these cover crops improve soil health by introducing nitrogen, but they also help control pests, increase biodiversity and help with soil erosion. California receives little to no rain for much of the year, and without the established root systems of our cover crops, the heavy winter rains could wash much of the topsoil away, resulting in compacted earth with little life. With the help of our cover crops, we're able to retain the rain we receive each year in our soils and limit the amount of watering needed later in the season.
Want to experience the magic of the season? Book a tasting today at James Cole and experience a tasting of exclusive wine offerings in the friendly, casual atmosphere of our tasting room and outdoor property. You'll learn about our Estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon and the inspiration behind our bold red wines such as Il Mostro, Aliento and Mud's Kitchen Cabernet.