Trellising key to Napa style shift

Beringer Vineyards’ chief winemaker Laurie Hook has highlighted the importance of adapted trellis systems to a stylistic shift in Napa Valley.

Laurie Hook, chief winemaker at Beringer

Laurie Hook, chief winemaker at Beringer

“There’s been an evolution,” she told the drinks business. “We’ve been moving back from those styles that are so ripe you can lose that sense of place and the biggest change has been in the way vines are being trellised.”

Looking back to the vineyard adjustments that came in the wake of Napa’s phylloxera problems during the 1990s, Hook recalled a significant factor behind the riper styles that began to emerge at from the region at this time.

“We went to vertical trellis systems so the end of the row had a tighter ‘U’, which meant fruit could be more exposed,” she told db, adding that, as a result, “we did get more even maturity and riper flavours.”

Since then, however, Hook pointed to the wider exploration of Napa’s different vineyard sites, observing: “Over time people have gone further north up the valley where there’s more warmth and you need more protection.”

As a result of this desire to avoid over-ripe fruit, she noted that at Beringer “for the last six or seven years we’ve put in cross-arms”, which offer more protection for the grapes.

“It’s such a simple thing but it’s so important,” Hook insisted. “We’re able to get that flavour and phenolic development without trading freshness.”

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