ESTATE VINEYARD

OVERVIEW

Five specific blocks with individual soil structures and climatic subtleties enables the winemaking team to beautifully balance the aromas, flavors and structure of each Gabrielle wine. The vineyard was created over millennium by the layers of forces: Dry Creek ancient creek bed, frequent flooding, volcanic action from the Vaca mountains, alluvial soil erosion from Mt Veeder, San Francisco Bay ocean bottom. Each grape block has specific influences and encounter variables as the grapes penetrate the soil.

THE APPELATION

Oak Knoll District Appellation, Napa Valley

Located at the southern end of Napa valley about 5 miles from the San Francisco Bay, it enjoys the cool breezes of the San Francisco Bay, assuring long slow ripening and beautiful acidity, creating fruity of elegance and balance.

TERROIR

Climate: The vineyard enjoys cool fog in the evening hours through early morning. The summer days average in the upper 80’s, allowing perfect ripening of the seeds and skins- a key attribute of beautiful, expressive Cabernet Sauvignon. Harvest is usually in October, allowing a low ripening period, resulting in finely grained and integrated tannins.

Soil: The diverse soil results from the convergence of Mt Veeder alluvial soils, Dry Creek gravel & loam deposits, ancient ocean bottom and decomposed volcanic soil.

“I knew something special was going on beneath the ground of our estate gardens. When planting large trees and shrubs they often languished for a few years before they had a huge growth spurt. When we excavated a 20’ deep drainage trench, we discovered alternating striates of gravel, 12” cobble and loam. Now I understood- the roots had to forge through this complex structure. But when they did they, they flourished!

And so was with our vineyard. The result: very small concentrated fruit growing next to vigorously vines. They each demanded their own water, pruning and fruit management program. But this offers us excitingly varied grape flavors, which you will discover in our unique wine.” -Gabrielle

BLOCK UNIQUENESS

Apple Block at O'Connell Family Vineyards, Napa Valley, California

Apple Block

The Olive Block at O'Connell Family Vineyards, Napa Valley, California

Olive Block

The French Gate Block at O'Connell Family Vineyards, Napa California

French Gate Block

The Creek Block at O'Connell Family Vineyards, Napa Valley, California

Creek Block

Petit Verdot Block at O'Connell Family Vineyards

Petit Verdot Block

Each block has had its own geological history, which provides distinctive flavors. As the roots of the vines forge deep into the earth, their individuality becomes more pronounced.

Apple Block
Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 337

When the vineyard was developed, Gabrielle insisted on saving the heritage apple tree. She strongly believes in bio-diversity of the vineyard environment and this tree provided shade and sweet treats to the horses living in the former corral surrounding the apple tree. It still produces delicious apples and is a beautiful accent to the adjoining vineyard.

The Apple Block has gravely soil due to its proximity to Dry Creek. Fine gravel continuously washes to the surface and its soil does not have great moisture retention. Those qualities create very concentrated fruit that resulting in a richly textured wine. When visiting the vineyard, our guests observe that the canes are much smaller in diameter than the Olive Block only 15 feet across the driveway- a result of less rich soil, less water available to the roots and challenging navigation through dense layers of river cobble. The Apple Block is managed to lower fruit volume to not overstress the vines and extract maximum flavors. This vineyard ripens 1-2 weeks later than the neighboring Olive Block, so hand harvesting must be done in phases, each determined by the block’s ripening schedule. Harvest is dictated by its unique soil structure.

Olive Block
Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 337

Historic Mission olive trees are the namesakes of the Olive Block. Gabrielle propagated the trees herself from the last known original Mission Olive Grove (1797) located near Santa Barbara, California, that she discovered while researching California Olive history for her book, The Ultimate Guide to American Olive Oil.

The canes of the vines in the Olive Block are almost double the size of the Apple block, as the soil has more loam, less gravel and more water retention. This block was the edge of the ancient creek bed and had rich soil deposits. In average rainfall years, minimal or no irrigation is required by the vines to remain vigorous. The vines like to carry more fruit and be harvested earlier producing a wine that is sensuous and mouth filling.

French Gate Block
Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 337

An elegant antique French Gate opens to reveal a complex vineyard. A result of a mix of gravel from long gone small streams, volcanic sub soil structure and a thin layer of loam, these vines must be treated as individuals- a specialized drip system imparts water only to some, vines are fertilized with compost in accordance with their requirements. They are pampered! The end result is a firmly structured wine with beautifully complex flavors.

Creek Block
Cabernet Sauvignon Clone 11 & 7

Dry Creek winds around this block and still floods about every 10 years. Sine the vines are dormant, this does not impact the vines. But it is a big cleanup job. As a teen, Preston O’Connell dog a 15’ deep trench to build a fort in the middle of what was then a field of grasses and wild flowers. He uncovered a finely structured layer cake of rich loam, sand and gravel alternating in 1-3” layers. He uncovered the history of the soil, which determined the clones and rootstock selection perfectly suited to these conditions and subsequent vineyard management practices.

Petit Verdot Block

Along 200’ tall Eucalyptus trees, and a field of lavender, tightly spaced Petit Verdot grows, a small lot production that is a powerful component to the vineyard blend.