The arrival of June is always welcome here in Napa – the Napa Valley Wine Auction is held the first week, and it brings hundreds of wine lovers from around the globe for an event that is equal parts wine, fun and social.  This morning started grey and cool, our normal summer mode, and sun popped out right on schedule at 10.  The slow, chilly start to the day is as good for our visitors as it is for our grapes.  Everyone has a chance to rest before the day’s events and evening’s festivities which reach a fever pitch with the Auction itself on Saturday, when wine lovers get to bid on extraordinary lots that feature exceptional wines and fantastic experiences.  Last year, almost $17 million dollars were raised by the Napa Valley Vintners association from the sale of wines donated by member wineries, making it the highest earning charity auction in the nation.  Over the years, the Napa community has received over $120 million from the auction, making a positive difference in the lives of Napa’s children.

While we welcome global guests, we are keeping our eyes on what’s happening in the vineyard.  Anthony’s recent trip to one of our vineyards yielded a grape leaf splashed with crimson.  Red Blotch disease?  The color indicates that the leaf has lost its ability to photosynthesize.  Without that, the fruit will never develop flavor or sugar.  Apparently, this colorful problem is being found in vineyards throughout the Valley, posing yet another challenge for all of us, growers and winemakers alike.

Anthony and Rafael are concentrating on getting all the red wines readied for bottling next month.  As the blends are being put together, final orders for bottles, corks, capsules, labels and wood cases are being juggled by Sharon.  This project is always a multidimensional puzzle with multiple deadlines and we all breathe a sigh of relief once the wines are in bottle.  This year, the added wrinkle is that harvest might be so early that we could be bringing in grapes the same time that we’re bottling.  That will be something new!

We’re a month away from the event that has been twenty nine years in the making, our retrospective tasting celebrating Clone 6 on July 12th at 5PM.  Limited to fifty people, Anthony will be leading us all through a tasting beginning with our first vintage, the 1991, through 2010, a unique opportunity to taste twenty years of Napa’s first single clone, single vineyard wine.  In April, Robert Parker wrote about the 2004 Bell Clone 6, “This may be the finest Cabernet Sauvignon I have yet tasted from Bell Wine Cellars.  A complex bouquet of cedarwood, flowers, forest floor, red and black currants soars from the glass.  The color leans toward a dark plum, ruby.  In the mouth, this full-bodied, opulent wine is pure silk with lots of finesse as well as a long finish.  Drink it over the next decade.  94 points.” We’ll open 80 bottles of Clone 6 to serve with a dinner menu created and catered by Elaine Bell, (we have to keep it in the family!).  Please call the winery for details and reservations.

Cheers,

Sandra, Anthony and all of us at Bell Wine Cellars