The Sweeney Family philosophy is that the best fertilizer is the farmer's shadow on the vines. "Vines are like children. They thrive with attention, decline with neglect."
Vine Cliff has constantly made the small farming improvements that lead to superior fruit. The Winemaking team implemented programs for vertical shoot positioning and lateral removal to improve crop quality. Canopy is managed to provide air circulation, to expose "cool side" clusters to more sun while shading "hot side" fruit. Rather than having a preset watering schedule, the team monitors vine stress through a process called "pressure bombing" and adjusts the watering cycle on an almost vine-by-vine basis. The goal is to encourage even ripening throughout each block.
Vine Cliff also introduced natural pest control methods. "We placed perches throughout the vineyards to invite the hawks and owls, natural local predators, to forage. We constructed two bird houses to accommodate Kestrals."
The winery has planted 1,364 vines of Cabernet Sauvignon to the acre at Vine Cliff. Vine configuration (vertical trellises) and clonal selections that are low in vegetative growth and low in yield sacrifice quantity for quality. Along with the famous Oakville terroir, this approach gives Vine Cliff Cabernet Sauvignon powerful fruit flavor and low tannins, creating some of the Valley's most elegant wines, approachable on release, but capable of developing exceptional complexity with bottle age.