At the heart of Araujo Estate is the Eisele Vineyard, an iconic and historical vineyard that leaves an indelible
mark on the wines that are grown there.
Since 1971, some of California's most age worthy and intensely flavored Cabernet Sauvignons have been made from grapes grown at the Eisele Vineyard, located on an alluvial fan near the northern end of the Napa Valley, just east of Calistoga. Protected by the Palisades Mountains to the north and cooled by westerly breezes from the Chalk Hill Gap, this 38-acre vineyard is planted on well-drained cobbly soils that produce a low yielding crop of exceptionally concentrated fruit.
The wines produced in this remarkable place have a rare combination of forthright character with precisely defined flavors and fine textures, deep concentration without any sense of heaviness, and the capacity to develop profound complexity with age. The Eisele Vineyard was originally planted in the 1880's to Zinfandel and Riesling, and has been under vine continuously since then. The first Cabernet was planted in 1964.
The unique terroir of the Eisele Vineyard emanates from the geography of the estate, defined and dominated by the forces of water and mountains.
The French term terroir describes the unique environment of a vineyard, from its soils, slopes, and aspects to its climate, weather patterns, and microclimate. The origin of a memorable wine can be traced to the terroir of its particular vineyard; it is a "wine of place."
The Eisele Vineyard is affected by two water courses - Simmons Creek, which bisects the estate, and a small perpendicular tributary flowing from the east. These waterways have spread an alluvial fan of volcanic cobbly soils from the surrounding Palisades Mountains, deposited by intense storms during the wet winters.
Between the creek bed and the foothills lie gentle slopes formed from soils that gradually settled through weathering and gravity. In summer, when there is scant rain in California and creeks are dry, groundwater is available only at great depth. Grapevines growing in these dry, rocky soils produce concentrated fruit that expresses their struggle to survive, their deep roots seeking moisture in the stony subsoil, drawing mineral complexity into the grape clusters. Their genetic will to survive in this harsh environment is expressed in the meager crop of thick-skinned, intensely flavored grapes.
To reinforce the unique terroir of our vineyard, we follow organic and Biodynamic practices, using cover crops and Biodynamic herbs grown on our property.
Since 1998 we have been committed to farming organically. Organic farming feeds the soil, enriching the diversity and vitality of microorganisms and thereby improving the health of the vines and complexity of flavor in the grapes. We forego the use of inorganic fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides at Araujo Estate.
Instead, we rely on practices such as composting to increase the activity of microorganisms in the soil and planting a variety of cover crops that control erosion and provide habitat and food for beneficial insects and green manure for the vines. As a result our soils, vines, orchards and vegetables are healthier and more resistant to disease and climatic stress than ever before, and our bees produce an aromatic honey that reflects the great diversity of flowers that bloom year ‘round.
We also embrace the Biodynamic approach to agriculture, a set of principles first described by Austrian scientist Rudolf Steiner in the 1920’s.
Biodynamics prescribes using the rhythms of nature – the sun, moon, planets and stars – to guide the timing of farming practices as a means of ensuring the health, vigor and vitality of the crop being grown. Since 2000 we have employed these principles to harmonize our farming activities and winemaking practices. The balance and harmony afforded by Biodynamics enable our vines to fully express their innate qualities and likewise, enhance our wines’ ability to reflect the unique flavors that emanate from those vines.
In addition to operating according to organic and Biodynamic principles, we are ever mindful of our imprint on the environment around us. Our efforts to help restore the Napa River's native riparian corridor are ensuring healthy streams and riverbeds for future generations, and our adoption of water and energy conservation, pollution prevention and waste reduction practices have led to our certification in the Napa Green Land and Napa Green Winery programs as well as Fish Friendly Farming.
Estate production of wine and olive oil together can be traced back millennia in the Mediterranean, and olive trees have grown for more than a century on the Araujo Estate.
When we acquired the Eisele Vineyard, we were delighted to find more than 400 old olive trees growing on the property. Planted in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the trees had been left untended for decades. In 1992 we traveled to Italy in order to study olive oil production, learning how to farm and prune our trees and produce extra-virgin olive oil. Applying the same organic and Biodynamic farming practices we use in the vineyard, we tend the original trees on the estate – all Spanish varieties – and the additional 160 French trees we have since planted. The resulting Araujo Estate blend is a rich, fruity extra-virgin olive oil that expresses the terroir of the estate in the same way as our wine. Each year, we use some of this oil to produce a triple-milled olive oil soap.