Vaca Ridge is our Cabernet Sauvignon from one of the most anticipated new vineyards in the Napa Valley, and is our first new vineyard designated wine in quite some time – a decade – or more. Harlan, Accendo Cellars, and several others you might know are currently exploring the potential of this amazing vineyard site. It is a multi-facing vineyard planted on stone ridges in the Vaca Mountains that overlook Napa Valley and Lake Hennessey – thus, Vaca Ridge. Our block of Clone 4 Cabernet Sauvignon was planted on a basalt rock base on St. George rootstock. A rare combination that excited us as winemakers.
The 2021 Vaca Ridge Cabernet is a new wine in the lineup for TOR Wines. This is produced from one of the most singly dramatic sites in the Napa Valley, planted on almost pure rock in the area between the Silverado Trail and Lake Hennessey. This is a combination of the darker fruits of the valley floor, and the slight red fruits that are provided by the hills and elevation, along with firm but sweet tannins from the extreme rocky soils. This was aged almost entirely in Taransaud barrels as opposed to Darnajou, and was one of the longest wines on skins and in tank for us in 2021. The longer this wine sat on its skins, the more intense, more rich, and better length it seemed to provide. Giving this wine a good bit of air after opening really seems to help bring the component parts together and add even more mid palate, sweetness and density.
“The 2021 Vaca Ridge Cabernet is a fascinating combination of profiles. It has the cooler, more firm tannin and acid style of the west Rutherford hillside in combination with the warmer, more red fruit dominated style of the eastern Oakville hillside. This is loaded with bittersweet chocolate, Texas brisket, and a touch of wet graphite on the finish. This is the wine to be savored with food, preferably red meats or maybe very hearty Italian meat based dishes.”
The 2021 growing season began with January, February, and March rains totaling close to eight inches. The groundwater led to more canopy than the previous warm 2020, but all our sites are well drained and did not require significant canopy management. The summer was dry and uneventful. By harvest, the clusters were uniformly small, providing high skin to juice ratio, giving us wines with structure wrapped around a core of dense fruit. In the barrel, these wines evolved slowly gaining momentum and complexity over the 20-month elevage. It is an outstanding vintage from any vantage point.