Clif Family’s Valle di Sotto VineyardBlog Post By Linzi Gay
Five years ago, the Clif Family team set out to find a vineyard property that would allow us to grow our Napa Valley estate wine program with a focus on sustainability, both now and for the future. We looked at Napa Valley’s appellations and decided that the Oak Knoll District was the perfect location for us to organically farm a diverse portfolio of varietals in a more temperate climate. We found a 40-acre vineyard site where the vineyard had just been removed, offering us the ability to plant the varietals that best fit our winemaking program. Soon after, the neighboring vineyard also became available and we were able to expand to the full 80-acres of vineyard we are farming today.
The Oak Knoll District has been called the “sweet spot” of the Napa Valley given its marine influence, moderate temperatures and a longer growing season that allows a wide range of varietals to thrive here. Summer daytime temperatures can average 10 degrees cooler than other parts of the valley, which helps support a longer growing season. Cooler nights and more moderate day time temperatures result in wines with bright acidity and fruit-forward aromas and flavors.
In 2018 and 2019, we planted 10 varietals including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petite Verdot. We named the vineyard Valle di Sotto, Italian for valley below, because this vineyard sits on the valley floor in contrast to our 10 acres of Howell Mountain AVA property in the eastern hills, where we primarily grow Cabernet Sauvignon.
As with all of our vineyard and farm properties, we farm Valle di Sotto with a focus on sustainability and this year achieved both CCOF organic and Napa Green certification. In addition to organic farming, we have implemented many other sustainable measures into our farming program. This includes water conservation and using sheep for field maintenance and weed control during the late winter and early spring.