While pretty camellias brighten our February, our present focus is on the newest members of the BELL wine family from the 2014 vintage.  They are about to be evaluated out of barrel for the first time.  The vintage showed excellent potential, and the new wines were remarkable  at harvest for their structure and balance across the board.  The Valley is already looking for qualities that will define the vintage for the marketplace, and by this fall everyone will have a clearer idea of what we’ll have in glass within a year or two.  Because they are still so young, if changes are needed to add flavor or soften an edge, experienced winemaking skill is what is needed most to make the right decisions now.  Shall we put the wine in different barrels?  Does it need an additional racking for clarification?  Passion is necessary in this business to carry you through the long months before the wine is ready, but it can only carry you so far when faced with making a decision.  This is where and why Anthony’s 35 years in the cellar serve us so well.

On the drought front, we had a wonderful series of storms blow in from the south Pacific in December, leaving 20 inches of rain behind.  The hills on either side of the valley are newly green, making the rocky palisades look appealing enough for a picnic.  There is still a long ways to go to make up for three years of drought, but the grass and flowers are very encouraging and most welcome.

Out in the vineyard, we’ve pulled out some Chardonnay over by the creek and are readying the plot for a re-plant to some Clone 6 Cabernet sauvignon.  Although we harbor some concerns about whether it will be warm and sunny enough for the plants to thrive, we’re going to give it a shot and cross our fingers.  The next time you visit, we’ll have a new baby vineyard to take a look at.  With luck, you’ll be able to see why so few Napa growers bother with the straggly plant we love so much.

Sandra, Anthony and everyone at Bell Wine Cellars