VOL 16: Our Next Adventure: Seven Apart acquires a New Vineyard
“Seven Apart is located in the mountainous area of Napa Valley, where prized vineyards are rarely listed for sale. So it was to the delight and surprise of the Seven Apart team when the neighboring property called Orange Grove came onto the market in August 2019. A verdant green 5-acre plot, it was mostly empty and full of potential – particularly for planting vines.”
The Journal | Vol. 16
Welcome to Orange Grove
For the time being, Orange Grove takes its name from the street it is on – Orange Grove Lane. This new vineyard is a literal stone’s throw from our newly built Base Camp on Silverado Trail. Some three acres of vines are currently being prepared for planting.
According to Yannick Girardo, Estate Manager of Seven Apart, the motivation for purchasing Orange Grove was not only as an investment but as an opportunity to grow Seven Apart’s production capacity.
“Rather than buy grapes, we want to cultivate all our fruit to control every step of the process. Between Stags Ridge Vineyard, Base Camp, and Orange Grove, we will now have about 16 acres of vines. The goal is to have all the Bordeaux varietals across our three sites,” Yannick explains.
The team is busy planting one acre of Sauvignon Blanc, one acre of Cabernet Sauvignon, and one acre of Merlot.
Everything is Connected
Geologists took several soil samples to review the soil before the property was purchased. The results were promising. The soil quality was similar to that of Base Camp with only one issue reported:
“There was a drainage problem,” reports Yannick. “Base Camp is on a hill, and the property slants down towards the valley floor and river bed. The water goes straight through Base Camp and settles in Orange Grove whenever it rains. When we retrieved soil samples, the water was just three feet deep beneath the soil!”
The Seven Apart team installed a drainage system to capture and redirect water into the river to resolve this problem. Contractors needed to dig across the property and install a mainline with lateral lines to capture the water in a big, natural well. A pump was then connected to extract the water and connect it to the irrigation tanks to be reused down the road.
“The Seven Apart philosophy is to be as sustainable as possible – everything is connected. While the installation was a costly endeavor, we can now sustain ourselves using recycled rainwater. This is a huge plus, as Napa is an area with an extreme climate. We experience droughts and a terrible fire season, as well as occasional flooding. So it’s great to be prepared for as many outcomes as possible,” adds Yannick.
The drainage system was put straight to the test. A heavy rainstorm brought eight inches of rain in 36 hours a month after it was completed. Yannick is happy to report that the system passed the test with flying colors.
The Best is Yet to Come
What’s next for Orange Grove? According to Yannick, now that the drainage and irrigation systems are set up, the real fun can begin:
“We will be planting the rootstalk for our Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon this month. Then, in the fall, we will graft this rootstock.”
At this point, the Seven Apart is just three years away from achieving their goal to be 100% estate-grown. From controlling the irrigation to nurturing the vines, every step will be carefully monitored. This mirrors founder Don Dady’s belief system of making “one thousand perfect decisions”. In Don’s opinion, to make quality wine, everything matters:
“Your brand is a sum of all your impressions, and so everything you do has an impact. If you make a thousand good decisions, and Mother Nature cooperates, you end up making a world-class wine.”
Planting the vines at Orange Grove correctly is also an essential step since a vineyard can enjoy a lifespan of over 20 years (if not more). After that, patience is key. It can take between three to five years for the first full harvest.
“If we’re lucky, we might get a little bit of fruit in 2024, but the first proper harvest will only be in 2025. But it’s all part of the process – and when done correctly, we’ll reap the rewards in continuing to improve the quality of our wine with each vintage,” ends Yannick.
The team is busy with final measurements to ensure that the rows of vines are as perfectly straight as possible. This allows for easier harvesting later on. For the time being, with a lot of hard work – and a bit of luck – Orange Grove is certainly Seven Apart’s next greatest adventure.