Meet the Winemaker – Godspeed Vineyards

June 13, 2008

At an elevation of some 1500 feet, near the top of Mount Veeder, sits Godspeed Vineyard. Planted primarily to Cabernet and Chardonnay, this 22-acre vineyard has steep slopes, weak soils and excellent sun exposure to create small, intense berries with lots of mountain tannins. To manage the tannins, vineyard team makes extra passes to remove less ripe fruit and lets clusters hang a bit longer than typical. This results in solidly structured and intense fruit-driven wines that will be among their longest-lived.

Architect Larry Stricker has created some of the world’s finest resorts in California, Hawaii and Arizona. As a winemaker, his goal has been to create wines commensurate with the quality, stature and consistency of his architectural designs.

He is often asked about the name, Godspeed. “When you wait until you are in your forties to plan a vineyard, you need HIS HELP and SPEED, hence the name.” Larry and Collette not only count on HIS HELP, they also count on son David Stricker in the supervision of grape growing as the vineyard manager.

“Godspeed Vineyards is run almost entirely by a father son team. The father is a renown designer of International world-class resort hotels who jumped into the grape growing business full throttle in the mid 1980’s. Their first vintage was produced in 1991. This is a core location for Mt. Veeder area fruit and their Cabernet grapes are in very high demand and often command a much higher price than other area Cabernets. They have even sold their fruit to a few out of state buyers including one from New Hampshire who hauled the fruit over 3000 miles in a refrigerated truck! An appointment here is for the serious wine enthusiast as they are not open to the general public. A visit here is all about the vineyards, the wine and the views. Their vineyards sit at an elevation of between 900 and 1500 feet and often receive a dusting of snow in the winter. Godspeed’s original harvests were initially sold to other premium wineries and today they select the finest blocks for their own wine while still selling grapes to other wineries. They concentrate on two European style wines – their Chardonnay and their Cabernet Sauvignon. Mt. Veeder Cabernet fruit in particular is known for its small dense clusters – fruit quantities that are always significantly below the tonnage produced by the nearby Napa Valley. Despite being above the valley fog it is usually colder up here than the valley floor and when it warms up later in the day the mountain slopes help mediate the heat. This makes for a very long harvest often stretching up to parts of 3 months. Redwoods dot the vineyards as the owner decided to leave all redwoods when he was planting. During harvest silver colored strands blow in the wind to discourage birds from eating the actual grapes. You may also hear the “cries of wounded birds” – but pay no attention as these cries are coming from speakers strategically located throughout the vineyards to help keep the birds from attacking the ripe fruit. Godspeed has the luxury of holding back their wines far beyond the normal time most area wineries release their wines. Typically their Cabernet won’t be released until it has aged 6 years! For the price their wines are one of the best values within the Napa Valley area. Their cabs are big bold and deeply colored and firm in tannin structure. They age very well. We tried their Chardonnay; it is non Malolactic and is dark golden in color and pairs very well with food due to the reasonable acidity it holds.”The Napa Wine Project

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