The Oregon harvest typically starts at the end of September. The grapes are hand-picked in the early morning hours before the autumn sun has a chance to warm the vineyard. Using small, sharp bypass pruners, the vineyard crew clips and places clusters into 5-gallon picking buckets, which are then loaded into bins and transported to the winery. The picked fruit enters the winery during the cool morning hours; if needed, it is stored in our cooling room to reach the desired temperature before it is processed.
Our Pinot Noir grapes get the royal treatment. Each cluster goes through our sorting line, where several people remove any unwanted grape clusters as well as any material other than grapes.
Next, the grapes pass through our destemmer, which sits on a trolley directly above the fermentation tanks. The whole grape berries then go into these tanks, where they remain at cool temperatures for up to 10 days. This cold soak process is a style choice that facilitates color and flavor extraction before the production of alcohol.
The fermentation usually takes five to seven days, at which point we press the wine.
Our Chardonnay grapes go directly into our press. The pressed juice is then collected and settled in steel tanks for 12-24 hours.
From there, Chardonnay fruit for our Reserve and Legacy wines go into French oak barrels in our cellars, where the wine ferments and ages for approximately 10 months to build richness and complexity. Our Dundee Hills Chardonnay is fermented entirely in stainless steel tanks, providing a more crisp, fruit driven wine.
After pressing, we settle the wine in tanks for two to three days before it moves down into our barrel cellar via gravity flow for secondary fermentation and aging.
Our Pinot Noir lots are fermented and barrel-aged separately, allowing us to gain insight into the characteristics of our various clones and vine ages. This process ultimately gives us a more comprehensive range of choices when blending.
We use French oak barrels exclusively, selecting from a handful of coopers (barrel makers) depending on the age of vine, clone, and vintage. We think of oak as a complementary spice that enhances the fruit and tertiary flavors of the wine, instead of providing a dominant flavor. Throughout the years, we have learned the nuances of our individual vineyard sections, and which types of oak complement each best.
Blending and Bottling
Our Pinot Noir spend approximately 10½ months in oak barrels before the wine is blended and bottled.
Wine blending takes place in the late spring and early summer. Once we have achieved the perfect blend, it's time to bottle. With our Pinot Noir, we like to continue aging the wine in bottle for about a year before it is released.