Winemaking Philosophy

Our goal is to make intensely flavored wines that reflect and honor our unique growing situation at 2100’ elevation.  Our vineyards mainly face south and are above the fog layer which results in vines bathed in sunshine from morning to evening throughout the growing season.  Our morning low temperatures are much higher than in the surrounding valleys while our afternoon high temperatures are much lower.  Due to this, our vines are physiologically active for most of each 24-hour period during the ripening season even if the grapes do not ripen faster than in the valleys due to our cooler afternoon temperatures.  These distinct growing conditions result in big red wines that are on the black-fruit side of the ripeness spectrum but that nonetheless are loaded with varietal character and a nice amount of acidity on the finish.  The viognier and chardonnay have mid-palate richness due to all of our sunshine but are able to maintain acidity and excitement on the finish.  Our whites are distinguished by having a strong flavor intensity while simultaneously remaining fresh and lively in the mouth.  

Overall, our winemaking practices are traditional, even as they continue to evolve, and are designed to let the terroir signatures of the grapes be present in the finished wines.  The Bordeaux varieties of red grapes are 100% destemmed and fermented over a two-week period in stainless steel before being racked to 50% neutral and 50% new French barrels where they age for roughly 18 months with racking every 4 months.  An exception is the syrah that is only partially destemmed and is aged in 100% neutral barrels.  Each harvested lot of red grapes is vinified separately and kept in separate lots for the first 8 months in barrel.  Blending of each of our red wines then takes place across the summer following harvest; this practice allows the blends to integrate in barrel and take on their full personality over the 10 months that follow prior to bottling.  The chardonnay and viognier are pressed as whole clusters and racked clean without air exposure until fermentation begins in barrel.  The chardonnay is harvested at 21 to 23 Brix, sees roughly 20% new French oak and has the malolactic fermentation arrested after roughly 30% completion.  The viognier is harvested at 23 to 25 Brix to allow the stone-fruit flavor intensity to be fully present, sees only neutral French oak and is not allowed to go through malolactic fermentation at all.  We want our whites to exhibit verve and excitement in the mouth. 

One measure we use in house for defining success with the wines is identifying them in the regular blind tastings we conduct.  Due to their distinct high-elevation, warm-morning, cool-afternoon textural and flavor characteristics that cannot be found anywhere else in the world, we expect our wines to be distinct not only from other wines made on different continents but from the same varietals here in California and from vineyards only miles away from us.  But the most important and pleasurable measure of success we use for each wine is the feedback and encouragement we receive from our guests!  Please let us know what you think.