Perched on a hillside on the southwestern edge of Knight’s Valley, the Linked Vineyards property overlooks both Napa and Sonoma counties. To say this is a special place is an understatement!
Occupying a very interesting intersection between the valleys, and sitting just above the fogline, the property is a study in juxtaposition. Volcanic and loamy soils. Marine and mountain air. Wildlands and orderly vineyards. It is home to deer, wild turkeys and hawks, as well as three generations of Links.
Ken Link bought this property with the hope of creating a family legacy. So far, it’s working. His daughter Jessica was in college at the time he bought it. Realizing that no one in the family had any idea how to plant or manage a vineyard, let alone make wine, Jessica switched her major at Sonoma State to Wine Business. Ken and Jessica quickly enrolled in every viticulture class they could find, researched the characteristics of their special corner of Knight’s Valley and consulted experts in vine selection and planting. The west-facing slope with a view of the approaching fog from the Pacific turned out to be a perfect site for Cabernet. Planted in 2000, Linked Vineyards began to take shape.
A few years later Jessica fell in love with Drew Johnson, a vineyard manager at Beringer. They were married under the spreading oaks and majestic madrones on the property. Now part of the Link family, Drew’s knowledgeable and steady hand has guided the development of the vineyard into one that is growing world-class fruit. Drew oftentimes goes to the vineyard as the sun is rising, before heading off to work. On weekends, Jessica and their kids, Nick and Shelby, join him to help tend the vines and share rides on the pooper scooper, spreading compost and manure in the vineyard.
After years of these family outings, the vines had matured and the grapes were showing the quality they wanted to produce their own wine in 2007. With a stroke of luck, Jessica and Drew connected with Luc Morlet, consulting winemaker at Peter Michael (an icon of Knight’s Valley Cabernet,) who was looking for grapes for his own family label, Morlet Family Vineyards. He was a perfect match for what they wanted to do, and was excited to make the wine. While the vineyard encompasses 16 acres, Drew and Luc identified a small 3 acre section in Shelby’s Block to pick the grapes for the Linked Vineyards Cabernet. This small plot is the steepest hill in the vineyard and is characterized by rocky volcanic soils that stress the vines, resulting in fewer but more intensely flavored grapes.
While the Linked Vineyards name clearly has ties to the family name, it means much more. It represents all the links that created the wine; the unique site, the family, the winemaker and all the friends who pitch in and support them. Jessica and Drew hand number each bottle, and record who acquires each one. So, you will always have a link to Linked Vineyards, and they to you.
Not one to rest comfortably in the past, Luc took all that family knowledge and developed it further with a Viticulture degree from Ecole Viticole de Champagne, a Masters in Enology from Rheims University, France and an MBA in Wine Business from Dijon Business School, Burgundy. Internships at wineries in Bordeaux and Burgundy through the course of his studies provided Luc the opportunity to grow and polish his personal winemaking style.
The winemaking style embraced by Luc is clearly rooted in the Morlet family philosophy of “Passion, Terroir and Savior-faire.” The Passion is apparent in his tireless energy and focused approach to winemaking. His exploration of exceptional vineyards in California shows his commitment to Terroir. And “Savoir-faire” or “doing the right or graceful thing” is evident in what Luc describes as a non-interventionist winemaking philosophy: winemaking with centuries old principles, classic methods and the pursuit of ultimate quality.