Home California Return to California 8: Meeting Cathy Corison

Return to California 8: Meeting Cathy Corison


Visiting Corison Vineyards

vibrantly flavored and light hearted, crisp, dance-y Gewurztraminer

a 41-year old vine of St. George woodstock Cabernet Sauvignon; the vines are grafted with clones 7 & 8

the vines offer 1.5 tons of juice per acre; intensely low yield

Corison has 8 acres contiguous to the winery, vines replaced one at a time when needed, rather than by block

in the midst of my visit, Cathy discovered the first berries to turn purple–veraison has started, and early. Once veraison begins the berries do not increase in size. They simply ripen.

St. George is notorious for not setting well so that you end up with scraggy bunches of fruit. That is, the woodstock impacts how the clusters on the 7 & 8 clones produce fruit. It also leads to tiny berries (part of the low yield), and so the crusher must be run slowly to avoid getting stuck. the stems are also large in relation to the fruit. These are all elements that lead to wonderful concentration, and range of flavor in the juice, even if very little juice. Cathy and I discuss the advantages of growing a plant that is naturally low yield rather than a plant that must be cut back to be low yield–there is a difference in flavor profile she appreciates. But it is also about letting the plant do that work, rather than the person intervening.

“I came to Napa. I had no money or work. I don’t know what I thought I’d live on. I can’t explain it. I just felt as if there was a wine inside me that needed to get out. So, instead of cars and houses, I bought grapes and barrels.”

Corison Vineyards have had 17 years of organic farming on loam soils. Cathy has been making wine from the same site, the same fruit, for 25 years. Her goal is to make the wine in a consistent style from year to year so that what you’re tasting is vintage specificity on a wine that shows the strength of Cabernet Sauvignon in an elegant presentation.

view of the vineyard from upstairs

Rosé-Saignee from Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a wine that offers the sprightly freshness of summer with the fascination of Cabernet herbaceousness and fruit.

A vertical of Corison Napa Valley Cabernet–2004, 2003, 2001

Jon Bonné of the SF Chronicle recognized Cathy Corison as the 2011 Wine Maker of the Year.

a darker, more tannic presentation of the Corison Cabernet from Kronos Vineyards–2006, 2000

Cathy Corison was kind enough to invite me to meet with her at her winery, and vineyard. Her wines are the epitome of elegant Cabernet–really beautiful.

Write-up to follow.

Thank you to Cathy for having me.

Thank you to Hardy Wallace.

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