The SOMM Journal

August / September 2017

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Page 60 of 148

60 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2017 { cover story } The history of Sequoia Grove aligns with the evolution of Napa Valley—first deciding which varieties are best suited to the region, and later which rootstocks and clones perform best. When the Tonella Vineyard became available in 2006, the team did extensive soil analysis to determine rootstocks and clones that would best express the site. The vines were removed and the land remained fallow for a year while the soils "reset." Sequoia Grove planted the vineyard primarily to Cabernet Sauvignon, with smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The 50-acre vineyard is broken up into 30 different blocks with 17 clonal- rootstock combinations, all harvested and vinified separately. "When you're trying to express site and you have those layers of clonal influence within that site, I think that's exciting," says Hill. Terroir Desires MOLLY HILL'S QUEST FOR BALANCE AT SEQUOIA GROVE WINERY by Michelle Ball / principal photography by Jeremy Ball Sequoia Grove is one of Napa Valley's leading producers of Cabernet Sauvignon, located in the heart of Rutherford. Almost any day, walk- ing in Sequoia Grove's Tonella Vineyards, you will find winemaker Molly Hill quietly observing each vine and taking notes, with a shy smile on her face. Hill's quiet, thoughtful demeanor demonstrates the patience and determination it takes to create Sequoia Grove's signature: distinctive Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon acclaimed for its balance, finesse, and varietal character. When Hill first set her sights on making wine, she had no idea that she would reach this level of achievement. Starting out as a biology major at U.C. Davis, Hill picked up a copy of The Heartbreak Grape, a story of Josh Jensen's arduous journey at Calera. Reading this book increased Hill's budding interest in winemaking and the challenges it represented. "The book detailed the pro - cess of growing Pinot Noir and how difficult it can be to develop and produce into a beautiful wine. The varietal is very site-specific. So that challenge really drew me," Hill explains. In 1999, she chose to take a quarter semester off to work a harvest in Napa Valley at Beringer. "The Napa Valley region is a small community of winemakers; they made me feel very welcome. During my first Sequoia Grove Winemaker Molly Hill.

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