Bouchaine Vineyards – Giving Back to the Land

Bouchaine Vineyards

It was a cool, windy, foggy morning in Carneros, the southern most part of Napa Valley where we arrive at Bouchaine Vineyards. We are warmly greeted by winemaker Chris Kajani and assistant winemaker Erik Goodman. They ask us to jump on the back of a pickup truck to take a drive through their picturesque vineyards. Driving through the rolling hills, we pass through fields of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a small special parcel dedicated exclusively to Pinot Meunier. After a bumpy, breezy, exhilarating drive, we arrive at a plateau and we pull over to witness a breathtaking moment.

A pure “WOW” moment engulfs my mind. On a plateau of the vineyards of Bouchaine, we are standing on two counties, Napa and Sonoma. Carneros is the first AVA to cover two counties. There are stunning 360° degree views going out as far as the eye can see. You can see far out to Mount Tam which is Marin County, a little further you can see out to Sonoma County, in clear view is Mount Veeder in Napa county, behind you see the Vaca Mountains is Solano County, we can see Mount Diablo in Contra Costa County, and directly in front we see Oakland County and the East Bay. On a clear day, across the bay, you can also see the Financial District of San Francisco. Just a breath taking view point.

Bouchaine is the oldest continuously running vineyard in Carneros with grapes and fruit first planted in the late 1880’s by Boon Fly. In 1981, Gerret and Tatiana Copeland purchased Bouchaine Vineyards. They planted Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, long before the region became known for producing world class wines, truly making them trailblazers in the region.

Bouchaine Vineyards

Bouchaine is on a prime parcel of land in Carneros ideal for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The vineyards are just north of San Pablo Bay and San Francisco Bay. The climate is very heavily influenced by the fog that rolls in every night. As the central valley heats up during the day, it draws in the fog from the bay. Carneros is the coolest of the Napa AVA’s. It’s fog, wind, and diurnal range(50° degrees in the evening and 85° degrees during the day) make it and ideal cool climate region for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The warm afternoons with the beautiful California sun shining on the vineyards allow for the fruit to develop. The late afternoon winds, fog, and cool nights build the acidity in the grapes. The soils are shallow clay loam perfect for producing elegant Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.

Bouchaine Vineyards

When you have land and views as beautiful as that of Bouchaine you want to do everything you can to honor, preserve and nurture the land, the wildlife, the marine life, and the vines and soils of the region. Chris Kajani very passionately discussed all that her and her team are doing to give back to the land and the region. For Bouchaine sustainability is more than just removing pesticides and herbicides and chemicals in the vineyards. Sustainability is a key factor in every step of the wine making process. They were one of the first wineries in Napa to participate in the Napa Green Farm Certification program.

To make great wine you must begin by focusing on the soil. When Chris Kajani began with Bouchaine in 2015, she first dug a bunch of soil pits, like graves, 6 feet long and six feet wide. The idea was to see the roots and see if there were any root louse on them. Also digging soil pits allowed them to see the drainage of the soil. They noticed that the soils were naturally well drained, so they didn’t need to water as much and could dry farm and conserve water. This was critical finding, 2015 was a year of massive drought, so it was environmentally helpful to cut the water supply. Typically most vines require 100 gallons of water a year, Bouchaine uses 6 to 7 gallons of water. This dry farming allows for deeper roots of the vines, and thus enhanced flavors and creates a more concentrated flavor profile in the wines.

Bouchaine Vineyards

A classic way to give back to the land is to fill the vineyards with cover crop. Cover crops help mitigate erosion and hold the dirt in place so they do not run down the hill into the water. This also helps the marine life in the bay. Organic soil builder cover crop has clover, bell bean, nitrogen, and a whole host of beneficial ingredients for the land and soil. Clover in cover crops also encourages honey bee population. If you encourage honey bees, they also pollinate apricots, almonds and other crops in the area.

Next up their wine growing process is to add compost back to the soil. The vines suck up nutrients from the land and then the vines store nutrients in their trunks, so you need to give back to the land with the addition of organic compost. They add 5 to 7 tons of compost per acre, per year, across the entire ranch.

Throughout the farm you see bluebird boxes. These nesting boxes attract bluebirds and songbirds from all over. Providing a home for these birds benefit the vineyards, since these birds love to eat pests that attack the vines. These birds, love to snack on insects, bugs and pests, reducing the need for pesticides and thus providing an eco-friendly method for pest control. It also provides for a beautiful bird friendly environment. In addition to the bluebirds, owls and raptors also keep away bugs and pests.

On our ride back we see Rebecca Rosen, a falconer. When Chris Kajani first started at Bouchaine, they experienced massive bird damage and thus bought on Rebecca. Hiring a falconer has allowed Bouchaine to keep away grape eating birds. The falcons do not hunt the birds, they only scare away the troublesome birds that feed on the grapes and vines. Falconry is just another way Bouchaine is providing for an eco-friendly, safe, and harmless grape growing environment.

Bouchaine Vineyards

What is equally as impressive as Bouchaine’s commitment to the land is their commitment to the community. Gerret and Tatiana Copeland generously participate in Auction Napa Valley, which has raised over $170 million over the years. The auction provides funds for local clinics for healthcare, farm worker housing, English classes, grants for preschool, grants for reading and many more local projects for the community. The Copeland’s are animal lovers and they generously donate to the humane society. They recently donated bullet proof vests for local law enforcement canine dogs. The Copeland’s are the founding sponsors of Festival Napa Valley and sponsor the Bouchaine Young Artist Series. The Copeland’s provide scholarships and funding to help promote and encourage local talent. The Copeland’s are good neighbors, giving back to the community in countless ways.

Bouchaine Vineyards

The wonderful Bouchaine experience ended with a fantastic tasting of their wines. We started off with their rosé, then Chardonnay, and lastly concluding with their Pinot Noir.

2016 Bouchaine Vin Gris Rosé – This lovely rosé is made from Estate Pinot Noir grapes. Bright berries and tropical fruit on the palate. Wonderful balance of fruit, minerality and acidity. Only a few hundred cases made each year, so grab yours early in the season.

2014 Estate Chardonnay, Los Carneros – Pale gold in color, this Chardonnay has expressive peach, floral and jasmine notes. Wonderful texture and creaminess take over the mouth. The Chardonnay is rich, layered and balanced. Impressive, elegant and refined.

2014 Estate Pinot Noir, Los Carneros – A seductive Pinot Noir. This wine is medium bodied with notes of cherry, strawberry and cocoa. This fruit driven wine has a silky mouthfeel. The wine has a firm backbone, with supple well integrated tannins.

Bouchaine Vineyards

Our philosophy is to produce wines that embody the

• excellence of Burgundy
• the exuberance of California
• the terroir of Carneros

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