Keeping Valdiguié Alive in Napa Valley
It all began with Matteo Battuello when he came from Italy to Napa in 1906 and established the family farm in 1909.
He believed that great wines are grown by working the soil vintage after vintage. That’s the philosophy that has carried the family through five generations, and how they’ve been able to cultivate their land in St. Helena for 111 years, continuing to produce excellent wines.
When Matteo arrived in America and purchased the property in Saint Helena, he started farming grapes and eventually planted Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Mondeuse Noire, Carignan, and Valdiguié. After many years of farming, Matteo handed the reins to his son, Dominic, and in turn, Dominic made sure that his son Craig continued the family farm. The vineyard is now operated and managed by Craig and his son, Dave.
The family has continually farmed the 82-acre land over the generations, and Craig and Dave are still out on the tractors every day, working the land themselves. They know the property and its potential so well that they can decide which varieties should grow in each block to produce the best wines. Today, the fruit grown on the estate includes well-known Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Sauvignon Blanc, and the rare Valdiguié – a Battuello staple for the past 90 years. Only an estimated 15 California winemakers are working with this fresh, vibrant grape, and it’s a variety that’s experiencing a renaissance in the wine world. The intriguing Valdiguié grows well in California because it can handle heat without overly increasing sugars or drastically decreasing acidity in the fruit, and the family has continued to grow and improve it over time.
Valdiguié has a deep history in the Napa Valley region and a certain mystique in the wine world. Generally considered to be indigenous to the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the south of France, the Valdiguié grape was known as Napa Gamay for many years and thought to come from the Gamay Noir of the Beaujolais region of France. DNA studies have identified it as different than Gamay Noir, and it’s now known as Valdiguié.
Battuello makes two wines from this variety—a red version and a rosé version. The small-production Valdiguié typically has fresh fruit aromas of raspberry and red currants, with a light peppery finish. The Rosé of Valdiguié delivers a perfect peachy hue with aromatics that include pear, melon, and subtle citrus. The bright palate gives way to fresh acidity and an elegant finish.
Through their knowledge of the land throughout the generations and their sustain- able farming practices, Battuello Vineyards wines can express the individual flavor profiles of each block. Through Winemaker Michael Trujillo’s decades of winemaking experience, he creates excellent wines that express the terroir and varietal traits of Valdiguié. The family’s rootstock and clone choices and investment in modern farming practices continue to allow robust flavor profiles in the grapes.
As Matteo envisioned a century ago, the Battuello family has continued to focus on quality over the generations, and they plan to do so for generations to come.
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Article By: Layne Randolph