Every bottle of wine is the sum of hundreds of choices made, or not made, along the grapes’ journey from the vineyard to the winery to the bottle. We try to let the grapes do most of the talking, and opt for a less is more approach. That said, we do feel that there are three areas which are most critical and influential to the wine’s quality.
Decisions made throughout the year in the vineyard, and especially during the growing season, are critical to making great wine. We work closely with respected growers who are like-minded and passionate about growing the best fruit possible in a sustainable manner, oftentimes, organic or bio-dynamic. We don’t pick by numbers (pH, brix, etc.). We’re looking for physiologically ripe with fruit that tastes “just ripe” with fresh acidity and developed tannins. To that end, we seek out cool climate sites that produce grapes with the right combination of sun, fog, wind, and soil.
How we treat the fruit once it hits the crush pad dictates the path that the wines will take. We don’t make wine by recipe, rather, follow basic principals. We treat each lot differently based upon its unique qualities and the idiosyncrasies of a particular vintage. Typically, each lot sees a 3-5 day cold soak followed by a native yeast fermentation that lasts a week or so. The cap is gently punched down by hand 1-2 times per day. Whole cluster inclusion depends on the particular site, clone and vintage. Once in barrel (typically less than 20% new), the wines are left to rest on their gross lees. We add only minimal amounts of sulfur and top the wine during élevage until it’s bottled, unfined and unfiltered.
The blending trial process, which involves dozens of rounds and thousands of possibilities, is critical to how the wine tastes. For us, chemistry analysis is more of a confirmation than a destination, and while we use lab analysis to get a glimpse into the wine, we rely more on taste (palate) and gut when determining the final wines. This is no doubt due to Chris learning the craft in a practical manner (rather than through an enology degree), and his years pulling corks and tasting wines in restaurants and bottle shops. Our lab is low tech by design and includes a set of nice stems, a few pipettes, two graduated cylinders, and a spit bucket.
At the end of the day, we strive to make nuanced, balanced, and delicious wines that are representative of place and made honestly, without a bunch of stuff added to them or short cuts taken along the way.
We hope you enjoy them. We enjoyed making them.
Photo Credit: Andy Schocken