We proceeded to carve our vineyard sites from the steep, south facing terrain. The land itself provided the artistry and guided the vineyards around pristine stands of Bay trees, through natural clearings bordered by mixed forest and revealing vistas too beautiful to imagine. Over 80% of the 200 acre parcel will remain wooded and wild as long as our family maintains stewardship of this incredible land.
The soil composition here is extremely rocky and rich in volcanic complexity. The earth has a very thin layer of weathered soil over thick layers of decomposed and solid volcanic rock, along with deposits of ash in many areas. Typically, these `Red Hill' series soils are quite acidic. However, through some quirk of nature, our soil is remarkably close to having a perfect pH. We pamper and preserve this precious soil by employing extraordinary cultural practices including the maintenance of selected, permanent cover crops and the use of organic fertilizers.
These lean, well-drained hillsides provide the fundamental key to the cultivation of our vines and the structure of our wines. Due to these unique circumstances, we are able to grow the vines on vigorous root-stock. This enables the vines' roots to penetrate deep into these complex, mineral rich soils, to take up what mother nature has to offer; without the threat of imparting herbaceous, vegetal characteristics often found in wines produced from fruit grown in fertile, valley floor soils. Depending on the varietal, the vines are grown on either a Vertical Shoot Positioning (V.S.P.) or Vertical Cordon(high head trained) trellising system. The vines, once established, are drip-irrigated infrequently. Many passes are made through the vineyards to meticulously maintain the vines and fruit. Due to the steep gradient, virtually all work is done by hand. We use very few chemicals and are well served by the biodynamic practices we employ. Our vines consistently produce small clusters of intensely flavorful fruit.
Our vineyards benefit by another critical element of `terroir.' Their elevation of approximately 1200 ft. place them above the valley fog and above damaging spring frost. The north-south vineyard row alignment allows each side of the vine to enjoy equal sun exposure. Bud break is generally earlier resulting in a longer growing season with greater 'hang time' for the fruit. During the hot summer months, the vines receive the benefit of natural air conditioning as cool marine air follows the pressure gradient from the ocean over our vineyards on the south (ocean) side of the Mayacamas mountains and down into the hotter interior valleys of Napa County and beyond. This temperate climate allows the fruit to mature slowly, evenly and with full physiological ripeness at a lower brix than most wine grape growing locations.
At Bugay Vineyards, grapes are harvested based on optimal maturity, not some scheduling mandate. Two or more passes through each vineyard are common when harvesting the fruit. We believe that the potential to make great wines must originate with the wines' fundamental ingredient; the vineyard fruit.