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Snowden Vineyards

2022 Merlot Lost Vineyard

Produced from Merlot grapes grown in our 1.7 acre Lost Vineyard block, co-fermented with 3% Grenache from our rolling "test block," where we are currently exploring Rhone varieties. The grapes were harvested by hand on September 1, 2022, fermented by wild, native yeasts, aged in French oak barrels, and bottled in the spring of 2023.  Diana describes the wine as “…highlighted by a delicate bouquet of crushed rose petals, plums and cinnamon … long and lovely with licorice, black cherries and velvety chocolate.”

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Wine Specs
Napa Valley
Vineyard Designation
Lost Vineyard
Harvest Date
September 1, 2022
7 months in French oak, 30% new and 70% used.
Bottling Date
May 4, 2023
Residual Sugar
Fermented dry, no sugar added.
Alcohol %
Wine Profile
Vineyard Notes
The 2022 growing season began with much-needed water in the ground thanks to our first wet winter in several years. For the most part, the season unfolded with textbook-perfect weather. Bud break occurred the third week of March. We cruised through the month of May with no frost events. Flowering occurred under sunshine with daytime temperatures in the high 80s, resulting in very little shatter and high fruitfulness. By the end of August, the superlative vintage was moving into the finishing stretch. And then a record-breaking heat wave arrived. Daytime temperatures reached 110F° as the grapes hung on the vines at 21 Brix. Every day was equivalent to a week of maturation under normal ripening conditions. Like all of the growers across the Napa Valley, we monitored the fruit constantly and, as it ripened, picked quickly and carefully, so as not to overshoot alcohol and ripeness. While the lived experience of hyper-intensive vigilance, breakneck scheduling, and then picking and fermenting in this new-era of high temperatures was excruciating, the resulting wines are fabulous. Only in retrospect have we realized our sheer luck that the Snowden Ranch lies at the right elevation for this new weather profile, with its increased risk of heat spikes in the final weeks before harvest. Neither valley floor nor higher mountain, the ranch is at 650 to 850 feet of elevation, where the Cabernet was just reaching phenolic and flavor ripeness as nature hit the accelerator on sugar concentration – just the right spot when the season came to its precipitous end. The heat event denatured the enzymes in the grapes, which resulted in extraction actually beginning right in the vineyard. I did very little in the way of pump overs or other extractive techniques in the winery. The warmer temperatures also encouraged yeast multiplication, so the native yeast fermentation began quickly. The wines were pressed at dryness and barrelled down in 30% new French Oak and the remaining seasoned French Oak. As a vintage, the 2022 Snowden wines are full and fruit-forward with exceptionally fine and silky tannins. The surprisingly perfect growing season gave the wines nuance and subtlety, along with a generosity and immediate accessibility, the result of the dramatic heat at the tail end of the season. Watching these wines develop over the two years since the 2022 harvest, it’s clear the heat event made the wines open and forward in a way that is hedonistic and delicious. They should be spectacular upon release and for the next 15-20 years.
Winemaker Notes
Our only red wine picked before the heat wave, the ’22 Merlot is distinct in spirit, highlighted by a delicate bouquet of crushed rose petals, plums and cinnamon. The wine is long and lovely with licorice, black cherries and velvety chocolate. It dances on the palate, deliciously soft and sensual.