In the Vineyards
Our mission is to create wines that reveal the complex nuances of the vineyards that inspire them – cool climate, ocean-influenced, mountain vineyards. To this end, we spend long hours in our vineyard to insure that the grapes we grow represent the fullest expression of the vineyard and vintage. We believe in and employ sustainable and organic farming practices. The steep hillsides, cooling ocean breezes and fog, and mountain soils promote the development of color and complex flavors.
Winemaking begins in the vineyard, so we spend a lot of time paying attention to our vineyards and viticultural practices. Pruning for vine health and a balanced canopy (and not maximizing yield) is vital. As is the essential practice of shoot thinning which prevents excessive growth, overcropping and lack of stem lignification at harvest time. Well lignified stems allow us to use whole clusters in the fermentation without imparting astringency or excess tannin to the wine. While we like vineyards where the poor soils force the vines to struggle a bit, we want the vineyards to be as healthy as possible. From our perspective, Organic farming is essential to this end, so that we are in harmony with the vines and soils. As our goal is harvesting the best possible grapes from a given site, the vines require all work be optimized by hand, and the fruit to remain pristine through an effective organic mildew prevention program. Replenishing the soil through the use of organic compost is key.
Our winemaking philosophy is to honor that dance with mother nature, along with appreciating those characteristics of each vintage, vineyard and varietal that find expression in the wines. Our job as winemakers then is to be as transparent as possible in allowing the wines to most emphatically and clearly express themselves. For us this means that we strive for minimal intervention. A good example of this is our practice with Pinot Noir from the vineyards we work with – to put whole clusters into the fermenters with no additions of any kind, just some gentle foot treading, gently circulating the juice once every day, and gentle punch downs once the cap forms. After fermentation, we pump out the fermented wine then very gently press what is left with a basket press. After a brief settling the wine is racked to barrels where it remains on the light lees until we put the blends together for bottling. For us, SO2, while only used sparingly after malolactic fermentation is completed, is an important tool to help maintain the purity and transparency of the wines by scavenging oxygen and inhibiting microbial activity. We can then bottle the wines without needing any fining or filtration which by definition will alter and potentially diminish the wines.
The wine then goes into French oak barrels where it goes through indigenous malolactic fermentation and grows in complexity and character over one to three years of aging time. When using new oak, we choose barrels which are the best at maintaining transparency to the nuances of the fruit while supporting and amplifying these nuances. Minimal sulfur additions and temperature controlled storage insure that the wine is able to achieve its fullest expression when bottled. By keeping our production small, we can give every vine, fermentation bin and barrel the attention it deserves. We hope you enjoy the results.