The grapes arrive from the vineyards at the perfect ripeness. The first step in the crush process is destemming followed by a gentle crush of the berries, opening them to the yeast and ensuing fermentation. Our destemmer/crusher is the gentleness device available. The only method more gentle would be the traditional foot stomp. A soft touch is critical to all steps of our process. Yeast is our native cellar strain, cultivated to our unique terroir*.
Reds are our specialty with fermentations taking place in open top fermentors. Punch down is done by hand at least twice daily. This old world method is labor intensive and time consuming but is worth the effort. This method cannot be replicated by modern methods. Our old world approach is conducive to a slow and cold fermentation, imparting the perfect ratio of skin tannins to seed tannins in the wine. The “must” (juice, skins, and seeds) is never pumped. Pumping and excessive mechanical agitation of the must changes the ratio of skin tannins to seed tannins, imparting harsh and bitter flavors to a wine. High temperatures during fermentation will further increase the harshness of a wine. Most of our reds spend at least 3 weeks on the skins, many up to 6 weeks. Again, slow and cold is key, absent mechanical agitation.
At the completion of fermentation the must is delivered to the press by hand; another labor intensive method, but again avoiding mechanical agitation of the must and maintaining the ideal ratio of skin to seed tannins. The press is a basket press, undisputed as the quality leader in red wine production. Basket presses have been in use for centuries. A modern bladder press would increase our wine yield by at least 10 % but would decrease quality by an even larger percentage.
Following pressing, our wine is aged in barrels for at least 2 years and some varietals for up to 3 years. The majority of our barrels are French oak. There is no substitute for the barrel in wine production. Our wines are never rushed to the bottle or to market. Once in the bottle they are laid down to rest for up to a year before being released for sale.
Terroir – a French word that can be loosely translated as “a sense of place”. It is the sum of the effect of the local environment (geography, geology and climate of a certain place) on the production of the product. The concept of terroir is at the base of the French wine Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) system that has been the model for appellation and wine laws across the globe. At its core is the assumption that the land from which the grapes are grown imparts a unique quality that is specific to that growing site.