Watson Ranch Vineyard is perched on a steep hillside overlooking the San Pablo Bay at the southernmost end of the Napa Valley. The ranch was named after early Napa attorney, Augustus Watson, who owned the property in the early 1900s. The adjacent property is an abandoned limestone quarry which historically employed over 300 people, mining material to make portland cement used to rebuild San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. Exposed and unprotected from the elements, this wind-whipped site was planted in 1993 by the talented Napa Valley veteran grower Salvador Ramos. Soils at Watson Ranch are composed of calcareous clay over limestone. This soil type is extremely rare on the North Coast but shows itself in a narrow fin at the tail end of the Vaca Mountains in Southern Napa County. This fractured, well-drained calcareous soil, coupled with organic farming and cool windy conditions, imbue this parcel with great potential to produce world-class Chardonnay. The fruit we harvest each year from Watson is consistently textural and vibrant with underpinnings of ample natural acidity and salinity.
In 2014 we grafted 1.8 acres of a Loire valley clone of Cabernet Franc adjacent to the Chardonnay. We enjoy drinking Cabernet Franc from France’s Loire Valley, and we felt the unique weather and soil at this site was perfectly suited to convey the cold-climate character of the grape. The wines we have made from this planting are vibrantly aromatic and loaded with spicy, briary fruit, offering a unique expression of the variety in the Napa Valley.