With roughly 500 acres planted to vines on Dollarhide and Rutherford Estate Vineyards, St. Supéry Estate is a major vineyard owner in Napa Valley. St. Supéry wines are estate grown and estate bottled — created by St. Supéry from start to finish, with no purchased fruit, offsite production, storage, or other outside influences. We have complete control over how our grapes are grown, and we strive diligently to keep our land pristine.
While St. Supéry is the steward close to 500 acres of prime Napa Valley estate vineyards, nearly 1,000 acres of Supéry's land flourishes in its natural state. We believe that vines thrive with some elbow room, as do the resident bugs, birds and critters.
In winter, a variety of cover crops grow between the rows of bare, dormant vines at our Dollarhide and Rutherford estates. This vegetation is purposely planted to compete with undesirable native weeds, decrease the risk of erosion on hillside terrain and add essential nutrients back to the soil, all while providing habitat for beneficial insects.
Canopy management includes leaf, shoot, and cluster removal, as well as shoot positioning. The main reason for canopy management is to regulate fruit exposure to the sun to obtain optimal flavors and color, and therefore better wine. Smart canopy management also helps us eliminate the use of fungicides and enhances habitat for beneficial insects through better light penetration and air movement in the canopy.
There is a vast array of wildlife at Dollarhide. Ducks, geese, egrets, cranes, owls, bees, jackrabbits, foxes and a bald eagle family can be found frequenting one of the seven lakes on the property which teem with large mouth bass. Our rattlesnake population helps keep the burrowing pest population from munching on the vine roots and eroding hillsides with their tunnels. It is not uncommon to see mountain lion or bear prints after a rain, a warning to deer who love to eat grapes and tender young vines.
Returning Biomass to the Vineyard
St. Supéry creates its own compost from a byproduct of the winemaking process. Pomace — seeds, skin and stems left over after crush — is trucked back to Dollarhide to be composted over the winter and eventually returned to the vineyard soil as a viable fertilizer and organic matter booster/soil builder. Having plenty of open space allows us to pursue a large composting program like this, a rarity in Napa Valley.
One of the most important things we do for sustainability is vineyard monitoring. Through the use of sticky traps and leaf monitoring, we are able to track pest thresholds established by the University of California and formulate a response. Thresholds are based on the principle that most pests are acceptable, and only when they reach levels that will damage the crop should they be spot-treated. Any pest control tactics are selected and applied in a manner that minimizes risks to human health, beneficial and non-target organisms and, of course, the environment.