The Frazier Estate is perched high on a hill in the Coombsville area of the Napa Valley. In 2006 this area of Napa, previously under the broad Napa Valley AVA, was submitted to the TTB for consideration as its own unique appelation. This new area would be called Coombsville and at this time is still pending approval.
The original planting, in 1990, was unusual for two reasons. First, Cabernet Sauvignon was not routinely planted this far south in the valley. Recent years had seen Merlot come of age in the Carneros region (just southwest of the Frazier Estate) and this young success influenced Bill Frazier's thinking. The Merlot grown in the cool Carneros region was particularly elegant, with great finesse and backbone, in addition to rich fruit. Bill decided to plant his site to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.
In a second break from tradition Bill decided that the accepted spacing of 8 X12 (with approximately 450 vines per acre) was not appropriate for this location and this varietal mix. Accordingly, he planted his vineyard to a 6 X 31/2 spacing yielding approximately 2100 vines per acre. Putting this additional stress on the vine encourages the vine to produce fewer berries that are smaller in size, resulting in a wine of increased intensity and concentration.
The vineyard consists of two opposite facing hillsides. The Northern Hill, facing due south has a 14% downward slope. The soil is shallow with varying depths of 6" to 24". Vines are trained in the unique Scott-Henry trellis system, which alternates the training of one vine vertically upward and the next vine vertically downward. This allows the fruit to be exposed 100% to sun in both the morning and the afternoon and insures excellent ripening conditions.
The Merlot vines were planted as dormant benchgrafts with 2 different clonal selections on 5BB and 5C rootstock. The initial Cabernet vines were also planted as dormant benchgrafts with 4 clonal selections on 5BB, 5C, 1616, and 1103P rootstocks.
In 1998 Bill purchased the neighboring 46 acres and began a second planting. Completed in 1998, this new block of 11 acres contains Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. As the science of viticulture evolves planting decisions become both more complex and more significant. The issue of matching site to rootstock and scion wood becomes increasingly important in the quality of resulting fruit. For the new planting owner Bill Frazier, winemaker John Gibson, and noted viticulture consultant Rex Geitner chose 101-14 and 3309 as rootstocks for this site, Cabernet clones 337 and 15, Merlot clone 181, Petit Verdot clone 2 and Cabernet Franc clones 312 and 332. The first crop from this new block was harvested in 2000.
2011 & Beyond
In 2011 we sold our estate vineyards. 2011 will mark the first vintage that we will source fruit from other premium vineyards in the Napa Valley. Thankfully, there are plenty to choose from. We plan to include a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Coombsville area of Napa so that we may continue to make the Frazier wines in a similar style. We are confident that the Frazier portfolio of wines will only continue to improve with this new business model. We look forward to continuing our journey with you.