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Vintage Notes

Each Napa Valley vintage is unique. In 2001, Walter Teachworth began journaling about the growing season on the estate. We have carried on this tradition ever since.

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Teachworth Napa Valley 2001:

Spring came early to the Napa Valley in 2001.  March was hot and dry like the summer heat spikes that followed.  The snow melted fast in the Sierras and bud break occurred at Teachworth Napa Valley on the first day of spring.  April brought a surprise return to winter weather with temperatures dipping to lows near, or below, freezing.  Our vineyards are naturally well-protected against frosts so we survived with nothing more than a slight blush on the ends of our leaves. A return to more pleasant weather soon cured that.

Grape-set came around the first week of May. Summer brought cloudless mornings and hot, dry afternoons followed by foggy mornings and cooler days. On average, temperatures were lower than normal until mid-summer, then normal toward the end.  By Labor Day the sugars were high and many of our neighbors began picking. Upon advice from our vineyard manager, Paul Saviez, and winemaker, Phil Steinschreiber, we decided to crush on the first day of fall, September 22, 2001.  This translates to a hang-time of over 140 days, which is long for young grapes like ours.  Since our winery and fermentation tanks were under construction, we crushed at a neighbor’s winery.

In all, we picked over three tons of tightly bunched, ultra-ripe and very delicious cabernet sauvignon grapes.  The majority came from the sun-drenched lower (Manzanita Hill) vineyard with the rest from  the distinctly different upper (Rattlesnake Ridge) vineyard.

Two days after harvest, God refreshed the vines and the entire valley with a hard rain accompanied by a pyrotechnic display of lightning and thunder as rare as our new vintage.


Teachworth Napa Valley 2002:

The story of 2002: very good wine; just not much of it. Only three varietals were made. One each of Rattlesnake Ridge Vineyard, Manzanita Hill Vineyard and the Estate Blend. The good news is the 2002 is even better than the 2000 and 2001 (Barrel samples confirm that our wine is getting better with each succeeding vintage).

Hail and rain at flowering resulted in shatter and a 50% crop loss. The remaining fruit was tightly concentrated and syrupy sweet, which translates into big tannins and high sugars. Our winemaker, Phil Steinschreiber, handled these conditions brilliantly to produce an excellent, full-bodied cab.

Hang-time lasted from early May to late September, with hot sun during the last three weeks. Harvest was done in the early dawn under a cool fog. For the first time we got to use our new stainless steel tanks. The star of crush, however, was the French-made stainless steel de-stemmer, a Delta E-1. It goes slow so the sorters have more time to hard pick the very best grapes for our wine. The first barrel samples confirmed what the grapes had told us: this was going to be a very good vintage.


Teachworth Napa Valley 2003:

This was our largest harvest to date: four tons of ripe, flavorful fruit that yielded 71/2 barrels of the best Teachworth Cabs yet!.

After a warm and dry February and March, April was the coldest, wettest on record for Calistoga. Bud break was first observed on Saint Patty’s Day, with flowering occurring late in May. The summer weather was unusual in that we had some humid days and even had some rain accompanied by lightning and thunder! Rare indeed.

Harvest took place the last week of September, resulting in over 120 days hang time. Sugars were high with some raisining of the grapes. The result was rich, ripe, delicious fruit. Crush started at dawn and the picking was over in less than two hours. Since this was our second crush at the new winery, we had our routine down pat. We sorted slowly and carefully and could afford to be very selective because of the large harvest. The result was fantastic wine.

Barrel sampling during the thirty months of aging in our cool, damp cave told us we had a wine in the making that exceeded the three previous vintages. You’ll love it!



Teachworth Napa Valley 2004:

April was relatively dry with foggy mornings. Typical spring weather with cool nights warm days and light showers. The vines loved it. We had an extraordinary display of Azaleas and rhododendrons enhanced by the 43”of rain we received November through March. Perfect.

We saw our first flowering on May 1st which is the earliest yet in our vineyards. Days are in the 80’s and nights are in the 40’s. Vines have reached the top wire and look great. We had some record high temperatures periodically in early spring. The end of May and start of June were cooler than normal.

We started watering the first week of June. The weather was still cooler than normal through mid August. Summer continued cooler than normal through mid-August then it turned hot at the end of August and first ten days of Sept. The grapes matured earlier than previous years due to earlier leafing and grape set—about two weeks. Verizon (coloring) was also earlier than usual.

Harvest came on 9/11/08 with high brix. Tastes sweet rich and ready. 3 barrels of Manzanita Hill Vineyard and only 11/2 barrels of Rattlesnake Ridge Vineyard. Phil Steinschriber, our winemaker, tried something different this year. He started malolactic in steel tanks after pressing, and then transferred it to barrels in five days. Malolactic fermentation went on schedule with the 4 ½ barrels being transferred to the cave before winter. The still new ’04 joined the ’02 and ’03 resting and aging in their French Oak barrels during a wetter than usual but mild winter.

Teachworth Napa Valley 2005:

The winter and early spring of 2005 was the wettest ever at Teachworth Estate Winery: over 57 inches total! Bud breaks came a week before spring (about normal for us) with flowering at the end of May. Shatter was evident in both vineyards due to all the rain. Spring was cold and wet, followed by a hot and dry July and August. Clusters of small, tight berries tasted great by the end of September, but cold fog returned to give us a long hang-time. We finally harvested on October 15th and wound up with four-and-a-half barrels after severe sorting. Most was from the lower Manzanita Hill Vineyard. After a long aging in our cave in new French oak barrels from Bordeaux, we finally bottled in July, 2008. We decided to blend both vineyards since we had an imbalance of Manzanita Hill over Rattlesnake Ridge and the blend tasted best. This yielded one-hundred cases of what is clearly our best vintage since the spectacular 2001. Recent tasting after decanting for an hour or more yields a glass with a robust nose, a dark ruby color, and a velvety mouth-feel with. 


Teachworth Napa Valley 2006:

Our winemaker/vineyard manager is Denis Malbec, a Frenchman from Paulliac and his wife May Britt. His grandfather, father and then Denis worked for Latour in succession. We felt they had the knowledge and reputation to make our dream of a stellar cab come true.

January 2006 saw flooding in Napa Valley and mud slides in California; it was wet and warm. Feb and March were wet and cold! March was the wettest on record: 25 days of rain! Total rainfall for our rainy season was 61 inches falling between 10-25-05 & 05-23-06.

Bud break came at the end of the first week of April, later than any previous year since our first vintage of 2000. The first half of 2006 was the hottest first half of a year in 100 plus years! The grapes looked great and veraision appeared the first week of August. The weather for the month was consistent with hot afternoons following morning fog. Mid September the grapes had small clusters with flavorful berries.

Harvest was in October: fourteen hour days touching, examining and sorting every berry meticulously. A lot of fruit was discarded. The grapes were cold soaked with dry ice in three open new French oak barrels followed by barrel fermentation. The vineyard was then raked with organic compost between the rows. Total Production: 50 cases


Teachworth Napa Valley 2007:

Our winemaker/vineyard manager is Denis Malbec & his wife May-Britt. 2007 began with less rainfall than normal. In January a cold dry northerner blew in and froze the citrus crop! The weather turned warmer by mid March and bud break was on the first day of spring, March 21, 2007. It turned cool after a light rain and was the driest winter in 12 years.

Flowering came early on May 11th, a result of no rain. There were foggy mornings at the end of the month resulting in cool days. Veraision came the last week of July, two weeks earlier than the previous year. Thankfully we added a second watering line. Mid August was almost perfect weather-wise with plenty of hot sun mixed with occasional foggy days – the fruit looked great. After many mornings of chasing turkeys, Joan netted the perimeter of the vineyard. It worked!

Hang time was over 150 days to allow for full ripening. Harvest was at the beginning of October with our standard relentless sorting until after dark. Dry ice was added to each tank for a cold soak and color, a great method to avoid using chemicals. Fermentation was completed in 100% new French oak followed by malolactic fermentation. Bottled after 30 months.


Teachworth Napa Valley 2008:

Manzanita Hill Vineyard; Rattlesnake Ridge Vineyard and the Estate Blend

Harvest of the 2008 vintage came on Saturday, Sept 13th the day Lehman Bros. went bankrupt and Hurricane “IKE” flooded Galveston Island with 13 feet of storm surge. Galveston is our other home & business.

Phil Steinschriber of Diamond Creek fame is our winemaker for this vintage, & once again produced three distinctly different tasting cabs.

The fruit at crush was ripe and succulent with a fabulously dark ruby color and a nose of luscious red fruit that lingers on the palate. Very small quantity produced.