Growing Pinot Noir in Napa Valley | Elkhorn Peak Cellars

This is my 34th season growing Pinot Noir in the Napa Valley and as the years go on, I must say that I still enjoy growing grapes very much. Every year is different and presents its own set of unique challenges, but that’s what keeps me coming back!

Napa Valley Pinot Noir vineyards

Elkhorn Peak Cellars’ 10 acre, hillside vineyard sits 380 ft above sea level, with South facing views of the San Pablo and San Francisco Bay. The elevation and proximity to San Pablo Bay eliminate the concern of frost, while the cool, foggy influences from the marine environment allow delicate Pinot Noir grapes to flourish. This small pocket in South Napa is an ideal area to grow world class Pinot Noir grapes.

The 2017 growing season is well under way; summer has arrived in the Napa Valley, not a moment too soon for me. Why? Because the beginning of summer signals most of the heavy work for a grape grower is behind us – and that’s what I like!

Premium Napa Valley Pinot Noir

During spring, 90% of the work for a grape grower takes place. After pruning in January, the grapes start to grow. Once March hits, there is a lot of work to do in a very small amount of time: mowing, suckering, weed control, trellis work, irrigation start up, shoot thinning, and canopy management just to name a few!

So for the remainder of the 2017 growing season, until we harvest our Pinot Noir in September, we just need to maintain the vineyards. This includes irrigation, spraying and canopy management. That still is a lot of work, but nothing in comparison to the spring rush that occurs each year.

This year the grapes really look good.  We have “set” a nice crop, the vines are doing well and we aren’t experiencing any vineyard issues that could signal a potential problem. So far, this has been a wonderful year to grow grapes, and we hope it keeps going until harvest!  After we harvest, we put on our cellar hat and start to make some wonderful Pinot Noir for you all to enjoy.

As the years go by and I continue to farm in the Napa Valley, I have to stop and reflect on how lucky I have been in my life. The work is hard and the hours are long, but the rewards are all worth it.  I never get tired of having people tell us how much they enjoy our wine. If what we do can bring joy to your life through our wines, then we have succeeded in what we do.


Ken Nerlove
Grower/Owner, Elkhorn Peak Cellars

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