Drive north of Tubbs Lane through Calistoga and you will see a smattering of old guard napa. Continue up the 128, and you will pass a field upon which is the romping grounds of a free range pig farm. It is the very owners of this charming pig farm, a retired firefighter who also drove trucks for native “Calistoga water,” who saved our home in the Tubb’s Valley fire. We and they sat at ground zero the very night of its ignition. Both homes stand (all others in our valley perished), all landscape burned, and our vineyards stand unscathed. We will be forever indebted. Country living reminds us daily of the solidarity of neighborly support.
Immediately adjacent to this postcard landmark, you will take a hard right down the driveway to the JAX vineyard site tucked far from the highway. The vineyard sits to the immediate left of the driveway as you drive towards the property. The al fresco setting of the house and tasting room suggest hospitality, casual connection, relaxation, and effortless vision – of course this magical setting exists because of tireless effort, and great attention to detail.
Sitting on the west side of the property, the vineyard features volcanic alluvial soil because of its proximity to Mt. St. Helena. That volcanic soil is what creates an ideal environment for root water absorption. Equally noteworthy are the higher temperatures by day (several degrees hotter than nearest AVAs) imparting deep color and complexity to our fruit yet the coolers evenings which help maintain acidity and structure.
Under the direction of vineyard consultant Kelly Maher, we planted the northeast block of the vineyard (which includes venerable Block 3) in Cabernet Sauvignon using clone 337 root stalk 101-14. To add layers of complexity, we planted Cabernet Franc (clone 332, rootstalk 101-14) and Petit Verdot (clone 3, rootstalk 101-14) on the very southern edge of the vineyard.
In line with our restrained practices in the vineyard, we follow a sustainable farming program. An integral piece of this strategy is the use of a cover crop to impart nutrients into the soil and root system. As the cover crop matures, we till the nutrients into deeper layers of the soil. We also exclusively use organic compost in an effort to reduce our use of fertilizers.
We also take great pride in the fact that we harvest every single cluster by hand. This is an important key to our fruit quality control as well as our sustainable practice standards. Although highly labor intensive, this allows us to select (without damaging) only the ripe grapes while discarding unripe and raisined grapes. This is particularly important because oxidation occurs once a grape is punctured. After harvest, we estimate that 50% of our crop is dropped (between dropping throughout growing season and hand selection at harvest) ensuring that only the most premium grapes are used in our estate Cabernet Sauvignon.