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Since 1999, the Blackbird Vineyard (a former walnut orchard first planted with 5,717 Merlot vines in 1997), quietly provided fruit to many of Napa's finest winemakers, for whom it yielded astonishing comments from Napa Valley veterans and noteworthy editorialists. Purchased by Michael Polenske in 2003, Blackbird Vineyards is now an ultra premium label in its own right. Fittingly, the word 'Merlot' is French patois for 'little blackbird.'


An early harbinger of Blackbird's potential arose when Mia Klein of Dalla Valle fame created a Blackbird Vineyard designate for her highly acclaimed 1999 Selene Merlot (no less than 95% of the fruit in the bottle must be from the named vineyard). Three of the top wine critics in the industry - Robert Parker, Stephen Tanzer, and Wine Spectator's James Laube - scored this wine in the 90s.


Blackbird's inaugural 2003 bottling, culled from a small crush of grapes that weren't already claimed by other vintners was awarded 98 points by Vinfolio, proclaiming it, "the best Merlot nobody had ever heard of." ACME FINE WINES news was equally enthusiastic, saying, "it is with wines like this that we never question why we are in this business." Blackbird's 2003 Merlot was also given a score of 95 points by Vintrust, which praised its complexity and richness, proclaiming it, "hedonistic in length."

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In conjunction with the Blackbird estate vineyard - which provides fruit for the foundation of the wine portfolio - Blackbird fosters long-term partnerships with premium vineyard sources throughout Napa Valley where growers are passionate about their approach to farming. These vineyards are hand-selected for their health, superiority and exceptional fruit quality, allowing Winemaker Aaron Pott to produce elegantly styled, appropriately balanced red wines that offer short and long term cellaring potential.

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Blackbird Vineyards' approach to winemaking involves intensive, hands-on, "best practice" techniques to achieve the highest representation of terroir in our age worthy wines. These combined efforts serve to achieve wines of great complexity, richness of fruit, and overall distinction.

Premium vineyard management - Renteria Vineyard Management combines practical and generational field knowledge with innovative trials and experimentation to grow the finest grapes possible at Blackbird Vineyards through precision agriculture.

Precision agriculture - we believe in "doing the right thing, in the right place, at the right time" through specific farming methods that optimize the health of the Blackbird vineyard, including limiting grape yields and increasing quality, while also minimizing environmental impacts.


Sustainable farming - Blackbird Vineyards rarely uses commercial pesticides, herbicides or artificial fertilizers. Additionally, organic materials from farming and harvest are readily put back into the soils as compost. The vineyard has a permanent cover crop of native grasses, flowers and legumes planted as ground cover between the rows of vines; they are never ploughed under, only mowed. These efforts serve to create a more balanced wildlife and habitat for our workers, neighbors, and even the winery dog-a French bulldog named Oliver.

Rigorous grape selection - in some cases, Blackbird Vineyards winemaking team will double or triple sort our fruit (examined for health) to guarantee the best possible grape selection from each lot before winemaking begins.

Indigenous yeasts - this means Blackbird wines are made with less interventionist techniques since the vineyard's native yeast starts the fermentation process naturally.


Cépage or blending - with their sophisticated and highly-trained palates, the Blackbird winemaking team nurtures each lot to produce the most exceptional blends from each vintage. By selecting two or more different parcels of wine after sample trials, our winemaking team blends them together to produce a consistent finished wine highlighting each unique varietal component.


Barrel regime - the use of French oak plays a significant role in Blackbird's wines and has a profound effect on the flavor, tannin profile, and the texture of our wines. Blackbird uses 100% French oak barrels made from fine cooperages for a more subtle flavor profile than American oak. The place of origin, how the staves were cut and dried, and degree of "toast" applied are all considered when selecting a barrel for Blackbird. We utilize different toasting levels for each cooper, for example, Bossuet is a medium, Taransaud is a heavy minus, and Seguin-Moreau is a medium plus. This attention to detail promotes complete harmony between wood and fruit flavors with each new vintage. Blackbird's barrels are seasoned to our specifications for density, suppleness of tannins, flavor, and ageability. Our wines are 100% French oak aged with approximately 70% new and 30% seasoned barrels for at least 20 months.

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Inside information

2013 Arriviste Napa Valley Rosé

5/5 Stars - Exceptional

"Screw cap. Excellent rose: fragrant, dry, full bodied, moderately intense in flavor, it is medium long on the finish, with a hint of tannin, and tastes of strawberry, raspberry, herbs, and grapefruit."
— Restaurant Wine
August 2014

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 Michael Jones, Wine Blogger (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Blackbird Vineyards . In a tasting of  15 wines 

Dominus 2009 / great aromatics, an earth and tobacco component, excellent cassis and red fruit with silky mouth feel, long, balanced, not as extracted as some but very well knit- 94 points"    This was a bit of a surprise;  I love Dominus but usually feel that it needs 10+ years of bottle age to show its stuff.  36th wine of the tasting.

14d 8h ago

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