AKA "Star ranch"
Rancho Estrella is a magical, mini intentional community located on Lovall Valley Road in the foothills of Arrowhead Mountain and the southern part of the Mayacama range. We are one of several families living on the nine-acre "co-op," among grapevines, gardens, goats and chickens. Mountains surround us by day, millions of stars illuminate our home at night. Together, we are responsible for this land and take care of all that it provides for us.
We have two acres of Pinot Noir (three different clones from Dijon) that were planted in 2008. Our vineyard sits 600 feet above the Carneros AVA in Napa County. The soil is the result of the weathering of the rhyolite lava flows that erupted from the Arrowhead Mountain dome seven and a half million years ago, which was one of the oldest flows in the Mayacamas. It allows for good water retention and a solid foundation of minerals.
We practice organic farming and close-looped agriculture. We combine all of the bi-products from the animals and their bedding, to create a compost that is recycled back into the earth. The winds that blow through the vineyard, and the variance in temperature from the diurnal shift, create an ideal climate for the grapes.
We prune in March, then mow and spade at bud break. Harvest typically falls within the first few weeks of September. We seed the vine rows with our cover crop, which includes peas, oats, triticale, daikon and mustard to fix nitrogen and build up the organic material in the soil. The vines go dormant shortly after harvest until the end of March when this whole cycle repeats itself.
Due to our close proximity to the San Pablo Bay, we have a cooler climate than most Napa vineyards. In many ways we benefit from the fog and strong winds, which aid our organic farming practices, keeping mildew and insects at bay. During the growing season, daytime temperatures can reach as warm as the high 90s, and once the sun sets, temperatures cool down to as low as the 40s.