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Neyers Vineyards Bruce's Journal

Cold Climate Chardonnay

By Bruce Neyers

Wednesday 5th June, 2024


I learned early in my wine career that the best examples of fine Chardonnay from California invariably come from cold weather years. This was true at Mayacamas in the harvest of 1971; then true again with Joseph Phelps in both 1975 and 1985. When we began to make Chardonnay at Neyers Vineyards in 1992, we deliberately sought out vineyards located in regions considered to be colder than normal. Over time, we were most pleased with the grapes we found in the southernmost reaches of the Carneros District of Sonoma County. Now, more than 30 years later, we still rely on the same three growers for the fruit used in our bottlings of Neyers Chardonnay ‘Carneros District’ – the Donnell family for their El Novillero Vineyard, the Sangiacomo family for their Green Acres Vineyard, and Del Yamakawa for his Yamakawa Vineyard. These vineyards have consistently yielded fruit that has enabled our winemaker Tadeo Borchardt to produce Chardonnay that has become a standard of reliability and excellence for over a quarter of a century. In a recent issue of The Wine Enthusiast, journalist Jim Gordon offered the following description:


Vivid, rich aromas of roasted peanuts, butterscotch and toasted oak lead to ultraripe golden apple and marzipan flavors in this full-bodied, lush and soft wine. Its indulgent richness coats the taste buds and clings to the sides of the mouth for a lingering finish. 93 POINTS’ – Jim Gordon


If you enjoy barrel-fermented Chardonnay made from cool-climate fruit and aged exclusively in French-oak barrels, the 2021 Chardonnay ‘Carneros District’ will be a wine you’ll want to try. It’s gently made, with a subtle wood expression and a long, complex finish. Barbara recently prepared a new soup at home, using the red lentils from Rancho Gordo Beans here in Napa. It’s an ideal companion to our 2021 Chardonnay ‘Carneros District.’ The recipe is below. We had it last week, and she served it with a side dish of fresh Mozzarella in a Balsamic Vinaigrette. It was perfect on one of those chilly spring evenings we enjoy at our vineyard this time of year.



Red Lentil Soup



    • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
    • 1 teaspoon cumin
    • Large pinch of chili powder or more to taste
    • 1 quart plus 2 cups chicken broth
    • 1 cup red lentils
    • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
    • Diamond Crystal Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper
    • Juice from ½ lemon, plus more to taste
    • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro



  1. Cook the onions in 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil until translucent.
  2. Add the tomato paste, cumin, salt, pepper, and chili powder and sauté for 1 minute.
  3. Add the chicken broth, lentils, and carrot, and simmer partly covered over medium-low heat until the lentils are soft, approximately 30 minutes. The soup should be slightly chunky.
  4. Adjust the seasoning with chili powder, salt and pepper.
  5. When ready to serve, stir in the lemon juice and sprinkle the chopped cilantro on top of each serving.
The 50-year-old Chardonnay vines on the Yamakawa Vineyard in the Carneros District, come from the low-yielding ‘Shot-Wente’ selection, and because of the small berries tend to be more flavorful than most other versions of Chardonnay that originate as ‘Clones’.

The cilantro that Barbara adds as a final step makes the dish, adding a note of spice, along with some exotic flavors. It’s perfect with the Neyers Carneros District Chardonnay, a delicate wine that’s crisp enough to match the underlying touch of lemon and chili powder.

Neyers Vineyards Carneros Chardonnay label

Looking southwest from the Sangiacomo Family’s Green Acres Vineyard. This is the block reserved for Neyers Winery, as you can see from the marker at the bottom of the end post.