The Grassi Vineyard is nestled down a little lane on Soda Canyon Road, not far from Roy Vineyards. It’s a unique region, entitled only to the Napa AVA, but it is surrounded by big names. Atlas Peak rises above it, slightly to the east, Stags Leap to the north, Oak Knoll is just down the road, and the cooler Coombsville is just south. Here, Cabernet Sauvignon ripens beautifully while retaining fresh acidity and delivering great concentration.
The vineyard lies on an ancient, sloping riverbed, comprised of cobbles that range in size from small to fairly large, providing excellent drainage. “We’re up on a bench, just slightly above the valley floor,” Cassandra Grassi explains. “There is some cloud cover in the morning, but it doesn’t sit or last as long as it does on down below, typically burning off at 10 or 11 in the morning. In the afternoon, wind shoots up the valley and cools things off a bit.” Because of the unique microclimate, the grapes here practically shut down naturally at around 25 brix. This allows Cassandra’s team to let them hang and slowly wait for ripe developed flavors with acidity preserved and sugars plateauing.
In the best vintages they make a tiny amount of Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, usually 50 cases or less (sorry, sold via the mailing list only!). On a fun note (and in a nod to their Italian heritage) they make a little Ribolla Gialla (delicious!) and a juicy blend of Sangiovese and Merlot called Mezzo Mezzo that is a California take on Tuscany and well worth seeking out. The Cabernets are richly concentrated with lovely freshness and balance and moderate alcohol. They also fly somewhat under the radar, which makes them an exceptional value. If you prefer balance over super-ripeness and extraction, Grassi’s gorgeous Cabernets are some of the best you will find.