The vintage begins in February with the pruning of the vines and extends through November as we bring fully mature grapes into the winery during crush. When harvest is near the fruit from each vineyard block is evaluated by taste and chemical analysis to determine its progress toward ripening and the ideal time to pick.
All grapes are hand-harvested by block overnight, this way we only receive cold grapes with firm skins that aids during the destemming and sorting process. The grapes are gently de-stemmed with minimal crushing, to preserve the purity of the fruit and avoid the extraction of bitter tannins. Harvesting by block allows us to ferment in small, five and ten ton lots, which affords greater quality control. Our gravity flow winery design allows for the gentlest possible handling of the fruit. Certain varieties are cold soaked in tank to enhance color and flavor extraction, before a cultured yeast is added to start the fermentation process.
During fermentation, gentle punch-downs or pump overs are performed to maximize extraction from the grape skins without crushing the seeds. Fermentations generally last ten days to two weeks and are monitored daily to determine the length of time the skins should be kept in contact with the wine after fermentation completes.
Pressing is performed with a hydraulic basket press, a traditional technique which yields wine of the highest quality. Free run and press fractions from each wine lot are kept separate to assess overall quality before blends are formed. French oak barrels from a variety of forests and coopers are utilized during the wine aging process, with both new and neutral (used for 2-4 vintages) barrels used as determined by the winemaker. Traditional racking is employed to clarify the wine so it can be bottled without filtration.