Mt. Brave Vineyard sits high atop Mt. Veeder at an elevation of 1,400 to 1,800 feet. Mt. Veeder has been planted to wine grapes since the early 1860s by such winemaking pioneers as Charles Krug, Agoston Haraszthy, Frederick Hess and William S. Keyes, and wines from Mt. Veeder achieved recognition as early as the Paris Exposition of 1900. The parcel that became the Mt. Brave Vineyard, in the northern reaches of the Mt. Veeder American Viticultural Area (AVA), was originally purchased in 1841—before the Gold Rush and the Civil War.
High-elevation winegrowing requires a painstaking, labor intensive approach. Thin, rocky soils and steep slopes make water retention a challenge and erosion a threat, but the vines benefit from the struggle and produce concentrated flavors. This regularly extends the growing season into November, and the increased hang-time results in peak ripeness and full varietal complexity.
We hand-harvested grapes during cool morning hours, at an average Brix of 26.5°. The wine was fermented in stainless steel and then underwent native malolactic fermentation in barrels to round acidity and softly integrate the vanillin character of French oak (73% new). After barrel aging for 20 months, the wine was bottled without fining or filtration.
For the 2016 harvest, we had an almost perfect spring, the growing conditions during the summer had minor extremes and the ripening period was almost as ideal. September had a brief late heat spike and a touch of rain fell in October, rounding out a great season. This Merlot boasts notes of dark red fruit that seamlessly blends with the power of Mt. Veeder tannins. Asian spice, vanilla, rose petal and a long finish highlight this wine.