The Michael Mondavi Family's Expression of the Spirit of Atlas Peak.
Seeking vineyards that would form the foundation of his family estate, Michael Mondavi zeroed-in on a particularly rugged, Manzanita-dotted parcel high on Atlas Peak in the Vaca Mountain range of southeastern Napa Valley. As Michael surveyed the site with his family, his daughter Dina remarked, "Dad, this place has animo."
Animo is an Italian word for heart or spirit. In the family's experience, some vineyards have it, and some don't - a pervading spirit that presents the opportunity of producing something that is truly exceptional. An experienced vintner recognizes that dormant energy of such a site before it has even been planted, its potential evident in the raw material, from the soil to the curvature of the land and sun exposures.
Michael Mondavi sensed the potential of Animo at first sight, and the continually developing wines that are produced here have spirit to spare. The Animo Vineyard is planted to a mere 15 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon vines in a relatively uniform rocky volcanic soil infused with red streaks of iron. The vines climb from an elevation of 1,270 to 1,350 feet on the slope of Atlas Peak, overlooking Napa Valley. At this elevation, the grapes enjoy a protracted growing season, and harvest generally extends well into October. Variations in elevation and sun exposure require numerous picking passes at harvest time. The attention paid to each individual vine is reflected in the quality of the finished wine.