Casey Flat Ranch in the Capay Valley, a mostly rural valley northwest of Sacramento in Yolo County that lies west of the Capay Hills, began vineyard planting in the spring of 2003 and has been crafting Bordeaux and Rhone varietals designed to stay true to the varietals and the Ranch’s terroir.
The property under vines covers 24 acres on moderately rocky soils on gentle hillside mountain slopes at 2000-foot altitude. The site provides for excellent growing conditions. The vineyards are sustainably cultivated, using materials and farming techniques that emphasize water and soil conservation. Weather data records indicate climate conditions at the vineyard are parallel in almost every respect to the Oakville/Rutherford appellations of the Napa Valley. Remarkably, average daily daytime temperatures are cooler than St. Helena, located 22 miles to the west.
Originally part of the Berryessa Spanish land grant, area settlement began in the 1850’s with the California Gold Rush. Valley locals at the time named the property Casey Flat for legendary frontiersman and early homesteader John Casey. Today, the expansive 6,000-acre ranch is home to the Casey Flat Ranch Vineyards and a modest Longhorn Cattle operation. The operation reflects the values of the Robert and Maura Morey family — owners for more a quarter century. Casey Flat Ranch exemplifies stewardship of the environment, preservation of natural resources, and is representative of a new and more contemporary Western sensibility towards the land and its use.
The 2011 Casey Flat Ranch Open Range (SRP $18) red wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Chocolate, plum, hints of vanilla spice, and cherry highlight this vintage, which is lighter than previous years. The wine opens with a blast of cherry, and firm tannins add weight to the mid palate. The wine has a long and velvety finish. The alcohol by volume is 14.8 percent.
2011 Growing Conditions
The spring of 2011 was cool with late rains. The long, cold frost season lasted into late April. The summer was mild, with few days reaching 100 degrees.
As in 2010, it was an ideal growing season for Casey Flat Ranch. The temperates during the ripening season allowed for hanging the red varieties well into October. But midway through that month, the fruit weathered a rain storm, as more than an inch fell. Fortunately, the Ranch had no threat of rot in any of its blocks.
After the rain, a sunny second half of October led to the harvest of the Ranch’s last block on Oct. 31. Due to the cool, late season, Casey Flat Ranch was able to extend hang time and harvest at optimal flavor and tannin ripeness.