Behind the Scenes: The Secrets to the Delicious Wines of Paloma Vineyard
Merlots have always been Paloma’s focus. It all started with Jim and Barbara Richards investing in Duckhorn Vineyards in 1976. The couple started spending more time in the Napa Valley. The more time they spent here, the more the dream of having their own vineyard blossomed. So, when the property became available on Spring Mountain, they jumped in with both feet. Because the Richards loved Duckhorns’ Three Palms Vineyard Merlot, they chose it as their primary grape selection. Ready to begin their second careers, or possibly their retirement project, the Richards set out to make their dream a reality through quality farming.
How Paloma Vineyard Creates Its Award-Winning Wines
Organic farming has never been the entire picture at Paloma. We focus on sustainable practices, with an emphasis on regenerative farming. Founder, Barbara Richards, spearheaded the farming of all 15 acres of the vineyard for over 30 years. She personally touched, nurtured, and claims to have named all 7,500 vines. For over 20 years, ten months out of the year Barbara was out in the vines. She pruned in winter, planted to expand the vineyard in spring, weeded, suckered, and hedged in spring and summer, and harvested in fall. The caring attention Barbara gave the vineyard was everything. Having been in the Navy she knew the value of hard work. Her hard work created a growing climate of healthy sustainable vines for future harvests. To this day, we choose to follow her lead by focusing on quality farming and by using products and practices that increase the longevity and life of the vineyard for future generations and harvests to come.
Our estate-grown vineyard started with such a caring intention to grow great grapes, that winemaking had no choice but to mirror that. Jim Richards learned everything he knew from a neighboring winery’s winemaker, Robert Foley. Jim shared Barbara’s same passion for creating a quality product. We continue to honor that ideal today. Our terraced vineyards range in elevation from 2,000 feet to 2,250 feet and sun exposures from south to north. This creates ripening pockets, so every harvest we hand-pick our grapes as they ripen at different times. Once the grapes are in the winery, we process and ferment each picked section of the vineyard independently. Throughout fermentation, we punch down (a flavor extraction technique) the grapes by hand three times a day for upwards of 10 days per pick. This can last well over a month some seasons. It makes us all extremely muscular!
Next, after fermentation, the wine is moved to the barrel. With Bob’s help, Jim came up with a simple and elegant winemaking process that he passed down to his son, Sheldon Richards, the second generation and current winemaker of Paloma. One key to this process is the subtle oak treatment. Jim and Barbara were adamant that oak should complement, not overwhelm the flavor profile of the wines. To this day, we continue to use one-third new French oak Nadalié barrels and two-thirds neutral French oak barrels during the aging process. The wine will then age for 18 months in those barrels, where it will be racked four to five times over that period. This gently extracts more flavor and helps develops the petal-like mouthfeel of Paloma wines. Finally, the wine is blended into the bottle and will be aged again for another two and a half years before it is released to you.
Secrets You Can Taste
Our sustainable quality farming practices, combined with the hand-picked and hand-crafted techniques, and the spring mountain climate create the complexity behind Paloma’s wines. Sound intriguing? Come book a tasting with us up on spring mountain to experience these wines and talk to the winemaker yourself.