Larkmead is one of the oldest, family-owned grape-growing estates in the Napa Valley. Originally established in 1895, the estate is now under the stewardship of proprietors Cam Baker and Kate Solari Baker, and is proud to be embarking on their third century of crafting 100% Estate grown, Napa Valley wines. This wonderfully diverse and unique site is located on Larkmead Lane, just north of the town of St. Helena. The estate lies at one of the narrowest points in Napa Valley. The vineyard almost spans the entire breadth of the valley floor from Highway 29 to Silverado Trail with the Napa River dissecting it in half.
This historic site offers tremendous diversity in its soils. Due to centuries of alluvial flow with a concentration of over 300 feet of well-drained, ancient riverbed gravel, the vineyard possesses a rare character usually found in hillside sites.
Winemaker Avery Heelan captures nuance and complexity by vinifying small lots according to clonal selection and soil type. The soils at Larkmead are alluvial fans that extend from the Mayacamas and Vaca mountain ranges and border both Selby Creek and the Napa River. The main difference between this site and other sites bordering Napa waterways is that at Larkmead most of the finer materials and topsoil have been "washed out" and carried down the valley, leaving high gravel concentrations and mid to large aggregate cobblestones. This gives Larkmead its unique character.
The vineyard is planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and other key Bordeaux varietals Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot (as well as small amounts of Sauvignon Blanc and Tocai). Although there are four distinct soil types at Larkmead, the amazing geology and diversity results in many soil subtypes with varying amounts of rock and gravel. It is this rock component that has the most impact on the division of the vineyards and they target these areas with different rootstocks, varieties and clones to amplify the wines attributes. See vineyard map by varietal.
This unique micro-climate gives the Larkmead wines their special character. Average temperatures are more like Oakville - and cooler than St. Helena and Calistoga proper - due to morning and afternoon fog that rolls in through the Chalk Hill gap and Diamond Mt.
Recent plantings over the past decade with the best clones and rootstocks are only just beginning to come into their own, so much so that Larkmead's client list for their grapes now includes Rivers Marie, Pahlmeyer, Rudd, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars, Duckhorn and Shafer.