Introducing Enfield Wine Co.
Heron Lake Vineyard, Wild Horse AVA
The following piece on Enfield Wines was written by Brian Pilliod, our Domestic Brand Manager:
There are very few winemakers currently in California that have received the same access to land and the tutelage of mentors, as John Lockwood from Enfield Wines. After working with such esteemed winemakers as David Mahaffey and Ted Lemon, Lockwood was most recently responsible for farming the Failla Sonoma Coast and Russian River properties with Ehren Jordan for the past five years.
In the early 2000’s, while apprenticing in a guitar repair shop in the East Bay, John Lockwood was fresh to the West Coast and his future in wine wasn’t yet a glimmer in his thoughts. However, enter David Mahaffey into the shop one day when John’s boss was out getting coffee. A 20-minute conversation ensued, fueled by Lockwood’s enthusiasm for something new, and soon John was spending his weekends harvesting and working in the winery, which led to part-time work with David and then full-time with Ted Lemon from Littorai.
John Lockwood of Enfield Wines
When John later looked to launch his maiden vintage for the Enfield label, he set his sites on David Mahaffey’s crown jewel: the Heron Lake Vineyard. Sitting at 1400ft in the Hills just east of Napa town, Heron Lake Vineyard resides at the highest point of the Wild Horse AVA. The vineyard is one of the most unique sites that we’ve seen in all of California. At less than eight miles from the town of Napa, this property consists of 20 acres of a secluded wonderland of Pinot and Chardonnay with spacing that allows for 12 feet between rows. Trained low on the 15 % grade slope and strained by the water shortage and climate, these vines produce some of the smallest berries we’ve ever seen. The Heron Lake Chardonnay Vineyard reminds us much more of remote Sonoma Coast Vineyards than of anything within the borders of Napa Valley, where no other vineyards are visible from Heron Lake. In fact, there are only two other vineyards within the entire AVA of Wild Horse Valley (the AVA and vineyards are in the hills rising east of Coombsville from 900ft to 1400ft elevation).
With extremely rocky soils and a climate more Sonoma Coast than Napa, this is no easy vineyard to farm. Originally planted in 1980 to Riesling and Gewurtztraminer on AXR rootstock and then replanted with Pinot and Chardonnay in two phases, the Heron Lake Vineyard is managed by David Mahaffey who has overseen the farming and made wines off the property since the early 80’s. The intense struggle for the vines to survive in the rocky soils allows for a wine of surprising concentration at lower alcohol levels with bracing acidity, a coarse minerality and a very distinctive personality. The vineyard converted to organics in 2010, and of the 80 cases that were made, we received 35.
The other wine that Lockwood currently produces is a Syrah from Haynes Vineyard. With a moon-like rockscape that sits at the bowl of Coombsville, the property is Napa’s long under-rated and newest AVA, and is frequently the coolest part of the region. As a little piece of Napa winemaking history, the Haynes vineyard is home to some of the oldest Chardonnay vines (possibly the oldest) in Napa County that were originally planted in 1966. Farmed continuously by Ferndando Delgado since 1971, the property is located on a particularly concentrated pocket of alluvial gravel and cobblestones with a thick layer of volcanic ash from Mt. George running through the subsoil making it one of Coombsville’s most noble sites. Coming into their own around 15+ years old, the Syrah plantings lie in one of the rockiest sections of the vineyard. Of the Syrah, there were 50 cases produced and we were given access to 28.
Haynes Vineyard with John Lockwood
Lockwood has focused his energy on untapped regions lying just southeast of Napa town in Coombsville AVA and Wild Horse Valley AVA (sub-AVAs of Napa), which have offered him a fresh look at farming and the ability to exercise the potential of these regions. His efforts also offer us at T. Edward access to these burgeoning areas, where Steve Matthiasson just signed a long-term lease on a Cabernet vineyard in Coombsville that is coming on board this year. Sourcing grapes from sites both traditional and experimental, where the exciting possibilities of soil and climate meet the hands of exceptional growers, Enfield has partnered with sites that have been in sole control and ownership by a single farmer. For Lockwood, it’s about attention to farming and long term care of site. His goal is to produce articulate wines of “personality and character” from a broad range of sites around California, with an emphasis on the balance of elegance and power.
The growth of the T. Edward American Portfolio continues to be organic and inspired by our winemakers. The introduction to John came through Steve Matthiasson, and the first wine Lockwood ever made was from ½ a ton of Merlot from the Red Hen Vineyard (the back bone to Matthiasson Red Blend).
We’ve had our eye on these lower lying regions of Napa Valley for a few years now. For us to have the opportunity to delve into these sites with someone as talented as John is very rewarding and exciting. Stay tuned for more to come on Enfield Wine Co. from Ann Kramer’s Shake Ridge Vineyard in the Foothills and a 3 acre Cabernet Vineyard in Fort Ross!