A Diverse Ecosystem
It’s common practice in the wine industry to clear a vineyard of trees, to cut down on shade and minimize competition for soil nutrients. But monocultures require intensive, interventionist farming to ward off pests and vine disease. So we’ve done the opposite, planting hundreds of trees to create an oasis of biodiversity that welcomes wildlife. Our oak woodlands and variety of plant materials provide natural habitat. As followers the doctrine of radical inclusion, we welcome all of earth’s species.
We grew up living by the mantra “leave no trace.” But our goal at The Terraces is more ambitious: To leave this land in better condition than we found it in. Each year, we spread some 150 tons of compost built from organic matter gathered here on the property. We re-purpose fallen trees and branches as mulch, to prevent erosion. We use organic soil amendments, and plant nutrient-fixing cover crops, which provide food and habitat for a variety of beneficial insect and bird species.
The foundation of our vineyard is the earth underneath us. Some 3 million years ago, a series of volcanic eruptions buried the Napa Valley in ash and lava. Here at The Terraces, the legacy of that fiery era is a fractured substratum of silica-rich rhyolite. Our vine roots burrow through our shallow layer of topsoil and bore deep into crevices in this potassium-rich rock, making for wines of character.
Our 25-acre estate vineyard is divided into 14 distinct blocks, each with its own aspect and microclimate, and each planted to the rootstock and grape variety that best suits it. Moderate temperatures and well-drained, hillside terrain create the ideal growing conditions for wine grapes.
In addition to grapes, we grow other fruits: Peaches, pluots, pears, oranges, persimmons, figs, and at least 40 different varieties of heirloom apples, representing cultivars from all over the world. From our 130 trees, we harvest apples that we press and ferment to make dry European-style cider. Our more recent addition: Nine trees that yield red-fleshed fruit each autumn, paving the way for us to make a sparkling rosé.
We are strong believers in the value of gifting. Our hives represent a way for us to give and receive. For our endangered bee populations, we have installed bee boxes that offer a safe haven. In return, the bees give to us by pollinating our fruit trees and offering honey that reflects the terroir of this estate.
When we aren’t tending our grapevines or our orchard, we’re growing other things, from Japanese maples to vegetables. (If you visit us in season, you may get a taste of whatever we’ve harvested today.) Our gardens also harbor surprises, like a spring stocked with carp and a native plant nursery, where we propagate the grasses that we use to restore our ranch’s habitat. We also nurture the work of local artists, whose sculptures decorate the property.