Since 1987, the Corison Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon has been sourced from three benchland vineyards located between Rutherford and St. Helena. In 2022 we harvested our 36th vintage! “Bench” is grape-growing jargon for the alluvial fans emanating from the western hills. All three vineyards grow on Bale gravelly loam, the soils that put Napa Valley on the map. Loam holds enough water for the vines to grow through the spring and into early summer, but abundant gravel and cobbles allow the soil to drain well so that the vines run out of water at veraison, which marks the beginning of the ripening season. At veraison the grapes soften and the vines get busy, accumulating sugar and developing inky color and complex, red, blue, purple and black fruit flavors. The goal is to reach ripeness before sugars get too high, yielding delicious, balanced wine with moderate alcohol.
Kronos was one of the titans in Greek mythology, the sons of heaven and earth. That is right where wine sits for Cathy, between earth and sky. Located by William Martin and purchased in 1995, Kronos Vineyard is one of the last old Cabernet vineyards in the Napa Valley. Planted in 1971 on St. George rootstock, which is completely resistant to Phylloxera, the gnarly, wise old ladies are over 50 years old! Yields are pitifully low at 1.25 tons/acre, but the singular wine it produces proves it to be one of the great Cabernet vineyards of the world. Cathy considers it a gift to have the opportunity to work with these old vines because they yield concentrated, complex, inky, structured, aromatic wines at very moderate alcohols. Farmed organically, these deep-rooted veterans sail through any weather.
Corison Winery has sourced Sunbasket Vineyard for over 25 years, sharing it with Shafer Vineyards for many years until they became an exclusively estate winery over 10 years ago. Since then, Corison has taken all the fruit. Cathy has long valued Sunbasket for its bright red and blue fruit and pretty aromatics. Serendipity, and William Martin’s hard work, allowed us to buy it in 2015, adding it to our estate. The first thing we did was to convert it to sustainable farming methods, and it is now certified organic. We were thrilled to release our first Sunbasket Vineyard wines in the fall of 2017!
Sunbasket Vineyard was originally planted in the early 1950’s by the legendary winemaker, André Tchelistcheff. Affectionately known as the ‘Maestro’, he influenced generations of Napa Valley winemakers. The vineyard is situated in sunny Saint Helena on the classic alluvial gravelly loam soils that are known as the ‘bench’. Referring to the exceptional amount of sunshine in this corner of the world, André called it a “sunbasket”. It is truly a great vineyard and we’re proud to continue as stewards of its distinguished heritage.