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Home > PHILOSOPHY
Vineyard
Inspired by the great wines of Right Bank Bordeaux, Virage sources from cooler climate locations in Napa Valley, revealing the depth, complexity, and exquisitely rich structure of optimally ripened cabernet franc and merlot, blended in 'Right Bank' tradition.

Bordeaux Tradition
Many Napa Valley wines are produced from grape varieties brought from Bordeaux, a place where red wines are nearly all blends of (up to) five closely-related varieties. At a Bordeaux estate, the regulated varieties are planted by the soils and climate to achieve optimal character expression in the finished wines; the vigneron then blends the resulting wines for perfect balance each vintage.

Like Paris, Bordeaux can be divided by the river running through it; on the river's left bank, to the south, Cabernet Sauvignon generally dominates the blends. On the right bank, the northernmost chateaux produce blends rich with merlot and cabernet franc grown on gravelly terraces and limestone plateau. Top right bank blends are highly regarded for their finesse, complexity and ageability. Celebrated properties include Chateau Cheval Blanc in St. Emilion (planted to Cabernet Franc and Merlot), and Petrus in Pomerol, a top Bordeaux wine produced solely from Merlot.

Classic Style
We blend in 'Right Bank' tradition, sourcing cabernet franc and merlot grapes grown in northeastern Carneros at Beau Terroir and Hyde Vineyards. Safely tucked into the tail end of the Mayacamas range dividing Sonoma and Napa Valleys, this site is sheltered from the cold ocean winds flowing on shore from the "Petaluma Gap." A protected pocket within the coolest growing region of Napa Valley, the grapes enjoy not only lower daytime temperatures compared to sister appellations upvalley, but also warmer nights from proximity to San Pablo Bay just minutes to the south. These sites provide unique conditions for harvesting at optimal ripeness, maintaining fresh acidity and brightness, and expressing fully ripe flavors at moderate sugar --and therefore alcohol--levels. A slow, gentle maturation creates complex, supple wines presenting layered flavors and generous aromatics of ripe cabernet franc, rounded out by the dark chocolate richness of deeply-structured merlot. Our soil series, more commonly found at higher elevation on Mt. Veeder, fosters a lovely thread of minerality --a signature character of all Virage wines.

Napa Valley's exceptional geologic diversity offers an extraordinary place to practice the art of blending in Bordeaux tradition. Given the kaleidoscope of 33 different soil series (compared to four in all winemaking regions of France), Napa Valley winemakers are blessed with opportunity for unique expression of all five Bordeaux varietals. From our cooler corner, we hope Virage recalls the character of a fine blend from St. Emilion.