Adastra Organic Winery

My very first day of wine tasting in the Napa Valley was fit for an Irishman; cold and wet. But luckily the plethora of delicious wines warmed us from the inside out. As you can see we didn’t just taste whites—we drank across the board as I’m told is the only way to do it in Napa.

Chris Thorpe, our host and owner of Adastra wines, was very gracious in inviting us to taste his wines. Over the course of our wine tastings we found out a lot of interesting wine information, most of which got left on the editing floor due to time constraints. Since I’m not a wine connoisseur myself,  I thought what interested me might also interest you so I decided to share some of what we talked about right here.

Located in the Caneros Valley, Adastra’s estate wines are all grown on the property and the vineyards are certified organic. According to Chris,”the combo of both Napa and Sonoma’s cool climate area is known as the Caneros so it spans 2 diff counties and well known as one of the first places to grow Pinot Noir many years ago, which continues to be a very prominent grape in this area. The area is also great for Chardonnay and exceptional for Merlot.”

Here’s a snippet of our conversation:

G: How many organic vineyards are there in this region?
C: In this region of Napa County, a lot is owned by big multinationals so that’s not their bottom line too much so I’d say 10% or less so we’re one of the few in this area. As you go into Sonoma and Mendicino Counties there’s a lot more.
G: How long does it take to become certified organic?
C: The CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers) certifying body requires 3 years of absolute total organic before you can put in an application to become certified. We started that process in ’02 and think it’s a better way to treat the environment.”

C: We do a lot of crop reduction so we get pretty intense flavors and very even ripening of the grapes before we harvest them. Merlot is a very productive grape so you can get huge crops. We drop our to about a fifth of what some people would get, and we think that makes all the difference with the concentration and balance.
G: What is dropping fruit?
R: They come along in the rows and they will actually snip clusters of grapes and drop them on the ground so that what the plant does produce becomes more concentrated. If a plant is capable of producing say 8 clusters of grapes, they will drop it to 6 or even 4, which results in a more intense flavor in those clusters.
G: What happens to the grapes that fall on the ground?
C: They just compost back into the soil.

I’m really enjoying learning more about wine, which is a great excuse for an Irishman!

The wines featured in the episode were a 2009 N’OAK Chardonnay and a 2006 Proximus Chardonnay but all of them were quite stellar.

Thanks to Chris for his hospitality and please go check out his site and Like Adastra on Facebook.

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