Ehlers Estate 100% Organic
Vineyard and Viticulture Profile
History: The Ehlers Estate vineyard is located on an historic winegrowing site in the northern part of Napa Valley’s acclaimed St. Helena appellation. Grapes have been cultivated on this coveted site since the mid-1800s. The vineyard was replanted using a diversity of clone and rootstock selections under the guidance of renowned enologist Jacques Boissenot in 1995. Today, the Ehlers Estate vineyard, which is the source of exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Sauvignon Blanc, is farmed with strict adherence to organic and biodynamic farming standards.
Contiguous Layout: The Ehlers Estate vineyard benefits from a unique Old World layout that is quite rare in California. The historic Ehlers winery building is located in the center of the contiguous estate vineyard. The farthest point on the property from the winery is approximately 600 yards, allowing the Ehlers team to have complete control over every aspect of the viticulture program, leading to greater focus and quality.
Certified Organic Farming: On July 1, 2008, after three years of verifiable organic farming, Ehlers Estate was awarded organic certification from the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). Biodynamic certification from Demeter USA became official in 2011.
As part of a vineyard-focused, socially responsible approach to winemaking, the Ehlers Estate vineyard is farmed exclusively using earth-friendly organic farming methods. These methods help to preserve the purity and character of the estate’s fruit, leading to stellar wines reflecting an authentic sense of place. No chemical herbisides, pesticides, or synthetic fertillizers are used on these pristine vineyards.
Diversity: The contiguous 42-acre Ehlers Estate vineyard offers a remarkable diversity of soils, clones and rootstocks, and is approached as a mosaic of small vineyard blocks. The vineyard is divided into five main blocks (based primarily on soil type) and 25 sub-blocks, which are largely defined by unique combinations of clone and rootstock. Eleven of these blocks (totaling 25 acres) are dedicated to six different clones of Cabernet Sauvignon planted on multiple rootstocks, allowing the winemaking team an expansive palette of fruit during the blending process. The vineyard also features seven sub-blocks of Merlot, four of Cabernet Franc, two of Sauvignon Blanc and a block of Petit Verdot.
Microclimate: The property is located at the Napa Valley’s narrowest point, between the Mayacamas Mountains to the west and the Vaca Mountains to the east, and it benefits from a unique local microclimate. This location allows for constant airflow through the vineyard, which brings fog in the morning, but clears it out in the afternoons, giving the vineyard ample sunshine, mediated by cooling breezes. These breezes also moderate heat spikes, allowing for excellent, even ripening of the fruit.
Practices: Winemaker Kevin Morrisey, along with Vineyard Foreman Francisco Vega, and Ehlers Estate’s fulltime, seven-person vineyard crew work to honor the diversity of the vineyard. In practice, this means that each of the site’s 25 sub-blocks benefits from farming techniques tailored to its combination of soil, clone and rootstock. All hedging and canopy management is done by hand, and depending on the varietal, vines can receive up to six passes of pruning and thinning to limit yields. Instead of setting arbitrary yield limits, the team works to limit total clusters. The number of clusters varies based on block, soil and varietal, with an overall average of 14 clusters per plant.
Biodynamic Farming: In the spring of 2005, Ehlers Estate began practicing biodynamic farming, a holistic, chemical-free approach to agriculture that is practiced by several of the world’s oldest and most respected wineries. Based on the work of Austrian scientist and philosopher Rudolph Steiner, biodynamic farming is a comprehensive alternative to industrialized agriculture that approaches vineyards (or farms) as complete living organisms in order to achieve greater vineyard health and fruit quality. Our winemaker has worked with various biodynamic experts and consultants to ensure that Ehlers Estate embraces all of the strict criteria and practices of biodynamics farming, including the generous use of compost, application of various soil and foliar treatments, and adherence to the biodynamic calendar and the natural cycles of the Earth.