Herb Lamb Vineyards: Cabernet Sauvignon
Herb Lamb Vineyards
The seven acre Herb Lamb Vineyard is located on the ridge of a small valley facing Howell Mountain, just east of St. Helena in the northern Napa Valley. This valley opens on the west directly towards Calistoga and pulls weather from the North Bay marine climate, offering cooling evening fog and morning breezes which fortunately alleviates any need for spring frost control.
Because of Herb's degree in Soil Science, he recognized the quality of the hillside vineyard immediately. The vineyard is planted on the Forward - Aiken series soils, the same type that climb up the hill to Angwin and Las Posadas and are found throughout the more arid eastern Vaca Range and Howell Mountain. The soil is very rocky and mostly gravely loam, made up of weathered, tuffaceous rhyolite. The steep hillside vineyard has between 20% and 50% slope at an elevation of 600 to 800 feet, making mechanization near to impossible, so it is almost entirely worked by hand. The vineyard is basically a cool-climate hillside location, north-east facing, with well drained rocky soils formed in material weathered from acidic igneous bedrock.
Originally terraced and planted in 1988 on AXR rootstock with Clone 7 bud wood, twenty years later vineyard manager Michael Neal and owners Jennifer and Herb Lamb found it necessary to initiate a selective replanting program with the goal of continuously maintaining the long-term health of the vineyard. Using St. George rootstock and Clone 7 bud wood, the entire vineyard has been systematically replanted over a period of five years and the original vines have been replaced with healthier rootstock.
Since the first commercial wines were produced in 1997, the HL Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon and E II/Two Old Dogs® Cabernet Sauvignon have been crafted by winemaker Michael Trujillo, who has also been purchasing a small quantity of grapes since 1991 for his own brand, Karl Lawrence Cellars. Consulting with vineyard manager Michael Neal, winemaker Michael Trujillo is a master at taking into account the differing soil composition, slope, exposure and climate influences in choosing specific blocks and rows that will affect the sensory characters of each wine.
Mello Vineyard: Sauvignon Blanc
The Mello Vineyard in Yountville is the home of the E II/Two Old Dogs® Sauvignon Blanc. The vines are planted on gravelly and well-drained loam on the valley floor, showing a bit more clay than the regions to the north. The vineyard rests in Yountville's Golden Triangle, where it is cooled by the morning fog but warms more quickly than surrounding areas and ripens the fruit more thoroughly. Climatically, cool marine air currents from San Pablo Bay to the south are trapped when they reach what are known as the Yountville Mounts, which prevent much of the wind and fog from the San Pablo Bay from advancing further up valley, but keep the natural air conditioning working even on the warmest summer days. These mild temperatures allow the grapes plenty of time to develop their unique flavor characteristics and to demonstrate the local "terroir."
Planted originally in 1990 to Pinot Noir on bud wood, the winery contract expired and vineyard manager Michael Neal made the decision to bud the vineyard over to several clones of Sauvignon Blanc. Jennifer and Herb Lamb originally chose winemaker David DeSante to help direct the E II White Wine program, and he worked closely with Mike Neal to select the rows and clones. Based on the Lamb's tasting preferences, a third each of clones 530 (an earlier ripening variety from the Loire with generous fruit tones), and 376 (a low yielding Bordeaux variety), and Sauvignon Musque (also from the Loire Valley but a different breed from the true Sauvignon Blanc, like fraternal twins, and notable for its turpene character) were chosen to create the new wine.
In 2008, with the success of several vintages from the Mello Vineyard, the Lambs purchased their own stainless steel tanks and the E II/Two Old Dogs® Sauvignon Blanc winemaking has been consolidated under the direction of Michael Trujillo with all winemaking finally under one roof.