Because of Duckhorn Wine Company’s unique structure, Decoy benefits from the talent, experience and expertise of all of our winemakers, each of whom has a unique area of specialization.
Bill Nancarrow, our executive winemaker – Napa Valley, oversees the crafting of Decoy’s Bordeaux varietal wines. Paraduxx Winemaker David Marchesi oversees Decoy Zinfandel. Migration Winemaker Neil Bernardi produces the Decoy Chardonnay and collaborates with Goldeneye Winemaker Zach Rasmuson on Decoy’s Pinot Noir.
Like all the grapes used to make wines in the Duckhorn Wine Company portfolio, fruit for the Decoy program comes from a mix of Estate vineyards and top grower vineyards (primarily located in the Napa, Sonoma and Anderson valleys). Decisions about which lots are used in Decoy are not made until well into the winemaking process. As a result, Decoy’s grapes receive the same meticulous care in the vineyard, and the same small-lot attention to detail in the winery.
In 2012, after several years of working with its coveted grapes, Decoy acquired the renowned Ridgeline Vineyard property, fulfilling a long-held dream of establishing an Estate program in the Alexander Valley and Sonoma County. The lush, structured Bordeaux-varietal fruit from this storied vineyard has become a central element in our Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and flagship Decoy Red, further enhancing the quality of our wines, and underscoring our belief in the importance of Estate vineyards.
Located approximately 90 miles north of San Francisco, Ridgeline Vineyard is situated on Oak Mountain in the Alexander Valley AVA—Sonoma County's finest appellation for growing Bordeaux grapes. The property consists of 44 unique hillside vineyard blocks, with different soils and elevations (up to nearly 2,000 feet). Though this spectacular mountain vineyard spans more than 400 acres, only 89 acres are under vine. The rest is preserved in its natural state, providing a stunning backdrop to the vine rows.
Looming high above Alexander Valley at the north end of the Mayacamas mountain range, Ridgeline primarily consists of Cabernet Sauvignon and the other Bordeaux red grapes. Originally planted in 1999, the site benefits from an east-west exposure for maximum sunlight, and a north-south vertical axis for ideal drainage. Steep slopes further contribute to drainage, resulting in lower yields and concentrated flavors. These factors, and the site's primarily Boomer and Sobrante loam soils, threaded with interlacing natural mineral springs, provide remarkable conditions for cultivating red grapes with phenomenal color, flavor and structure. Additionally, while summer daytime temperatures are hot enough to suit heat-loving red grapes, the rapid cooling effect of evening fog from the nearby Pacific Ocean preserves the fresh, enlivening acidity of the fruit as it ripens.
The numerous natural springs that feed Ridgeline were once used for their medicinal value by Oak Mountain's first residents, a tribe of Native Americans called the Mahakama. In the late 1800s, the land was sold to Emily Preston – a spiritual leader who founded a faith-based community called Preston village. "Madame Preston" did a brisk trade in dispensing patent medicines, the most functional ingredient of which was alcohol.