During harvest in 2017, Stephen Brook dined with Ray Signorello at his estate on Napa Valley‘s Silverado Trail. It was exceedingly hot that day, but neither of them imagined that just a few days later Signorello’s winery buildings would be reduced to ash by the fires that scorched Napa.
‘Fortunately, our vineyards survived. We plough between the rows, so there was no cover crop to catch alight and destroy the canopy above. Many of the vines are 35 years old, so irreplaceable. But it took two days before I was allowed back to the property. We crept in behind the CNN television crew, and only then could I assess the damage.
‘Everyone talks about building back better. Well, that’s what we decided to do. The new winery will be much bigger and so will the hospitality centre. And in the meantime we’re building wine caves into the hillside to give us more space. Gradually I’ll expand production, as we can still plant an additional five acres (2ha), but the growth won’t be dramatic. Signorello will still be a family estate producing about 5,000 cases each year.