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by Kerana Todorov | May 7, 2018 | 2:00 PM

Napa County residents and other visitors on Saturday headed to vineyards they see every day but do not stop by. They were invited to take part in “Afternoon in the Vineyards,” an event Napa Valley Vintners and Napa Valley Grapegrowers sponsor every year.

One such stops was Starmont, a Merryvale Family of Wines property visible from Highway 29 off Stanly Lane in Carneros. About 50 acres of planted vineyards surround the winery.

While the winery was built in 2006, its tasting room only opened in July 2015.

“It’s an opportunity to extend a little extra for our local people so that they know more about us and try the wines,” said Toni Hunt, of Merryvale, at Starmont.

Starmont is a little off the beaten path, she said. “We try to get local people here.”

“Afternoon in the Vineyards” is also a way to advertise the Napa Green, an environmental program for wineries and vineyards.

Michael Costley, viticulturist and vineyard operations at Merryvale Family of Wines, led tours to the sustainable vineyard behind Starmont, pointing to owl boxes, the weather station he routinely repairs and the solar panels visible on the winery’s roof. There is no Roundup use at Starmont, he said.

Other vineyards on the “Afternoon in the Vineyards” tour were: Luna Vineyards; Baldacci Family Vineyards; Alpha Omega; Clos Pegase and Duckhorn Vineyards’ Three Palms Vineyard off the Silverado Trail near Calistoga.

“it’s an incredible site,” said Duckhorn viticulturist Courtney Preston after leading the last tour of the vineyard planted in 73.66 acres of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. “I love showing this vineyard to people,” Preston said.

Duckhorn Wine Co. in 2015 purchased the 83-acre vineyard which brothers Sloan and John Upton had planted in 1967.

Preston focused Saturday’s conversations on viticulture. The visitors were engaged. Questions ranged from the physiology of the vine to watering, nutrition, soil and vineyard health. “I just love having the community come out here,” Preston said.

Among the visitors at Three Palms Vineyard were Chaz and Tonya Lemmon of American Canyon in south Napa County.

The Lemmons take part in “Afternoon in the Vineyards” and other community events sponsored by the Napa Valley Vintners, including “Morning in the Winery.” The last “Morning in the Winery” was in January.
On Saturday, the Lemmons said they enjoy learning about the wine industry.

“It’s fun because every time you go you learn something new,” said Chaz Lemmon, a chemical engineer.


Michael Costley, viticulturist and vineyard operations at Merryvale Family of Wines, second from left, leads visitors to tour Starmont in Carneros during "Afternoon in the Vineyards." The event invites members of the community to visit vineyards close to home.
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