The Short Story of Longtable
It begins, as any story like this must, with twists of great-good fortune. Two people find each other, and in doing so, find more than they could have imagined – not only do they share a love and a life together but the dream of one day owning a special place from which both wold-class wine and wonderful memories could spring.
And then, opportunity. After years of searching, in spring of 2003, Jeff Strauss & Mindy Schultheis purchased the former “Kitty Hawk” Vineyards, 18 acres of vines planted in rocky slopes of Mount Veeder at an elevation between 900 & 1,100 feet. It would instantly become a haven – a place of gathering, ripe with both history and possibility. They began the task of restoring and replanting the vineyard and renamed the property “Longtable” in honor of their love of bountiful meals and celebrations with family and friends.
Among the earliest guests at their Mt. Veeder “long-table” dinners were Charles Thomas, one of Napa’s winemaking stars – whose provenance includes Mondavi, Lokoya, Cardinale, Rudd and Quintessa -- and Charles’ wife, Lili Hsi-Thomas – herself a wine-business veteran, notably with Robert Mondavi, and Jackson-Family wines. The Strausses and Thomases became friends who shared not only a passion for wine, food and family but also for this small vineyard –where, from 1975-1978, Charles had made some of his earliest wines. Here the partnership was born – over great meals filled with laughter and stories and wine -- both families’ wine-making histories would spring from this secluded, undulating hillside of the Napa Valley.
Originally developed in the early 70s by Domaine Chandon president, John Wright, his wife Renate and John’s brother, Bill, the vineyard’s varied slopes and aspects present challenges for both the growers and the vines. But the 1,000-foot elevation places it above the fog on all but a few mornings each summer while the exposure to bay breezes drifting up from Napa/Carneros tends to keep Napa’s sometimes-blistering afternoon heat in check.
The redevelopment and ongoing care of the vineyard has been guided from the start by renowned soil-scientist and viticulture expert, Dr. Daniel Roberts of Integrated Winegrowing. Since 1981, Dr. Roberts has designed and managed world-class vineyards, not only in California’s wine country, but in Chile, Argentina, Australia, Italy and some of the US’s burgeoning “micro-regions”. Rootstocks have been carefully selected to control vigor, with very-low-vigor 420A & 3309C selected on the well-drained rocky soils of the hill-crests and inner terrace rows and the even-more-stingy Riparia Gloire in the deeper loam of the outer rows.
Longtable Vineyard is farmed Doug Hill and his vineyard management team with the stewardship both of the land and those who work it in mind. A third-generation California farmer, Doug brings more than 35 years of experience hands-on, growing premium wine-grapes in the vineyards of Napa and Sonoma -- sustainable and organic viticulture is practiced wherever possible. Under the daily care of brothers Jesus and Jose Lopez, Longtable's vines are cane-pruned, at 6’x3’ spacing. Our multi-line, micro-drip irrigation system allows water and fertilization to be controlled for selected terraces, vine rows, sections or even individual vines, with “dry farming” techniques used whenever possible -- the goal to both preserve the limited water supply and maintain ideal balance of vine health and stress to elicit the maximum in richness and complexity from our crop.
Like the grapes in a blend come together to make something so much more than their individual varietals… so it is with the team behind Longtable. Each talented individual brings unique qualities, a unique skillset… but with a commonality of purpose. We are a field-blend of our own — great by ourselves, even outstanding, but the magic is what happens in the mix.