Central Coast and Santa Cruz Mountains
Our winemaking philosophy includes fermenting entirely with native yeasts from the vineyard, rather than cultured yeast strains; extracting color, flavor, and tannins from the grapes without use of commercial enzymes; determining – by tasting for tannin extraction during fermentation how long to continue pump-overs; allowing malolactic fermentation to occur naturally, without inoculation; achieving wine clarity through settling and racking; making major winemaking decisions, including blending, based on tasting rather than a pre-determined recipe. Through years of experience, we have found that minimal additions of sulfur are essential to avoiding the ever-present risk of wine oxidation or spoilage, which destroys the individual vineyard character of the wine. We add a small amount of SO2 when the grapes are crushed, after malolactic fermentation, and very small amounts at quarterly rackings, rigorously maintaining the minimum effective level for each wine. Occasionally, if we have a wine lot (or an entire, assembled wine) with excessive tannin, we may fine it gently, using fresh egg whites. The egg whites precipitate to the bottom of the tank or barrel, improving balance by removing a portion of the tannin, and by further integrating the wine. When the whites have formed a firm layer, we slowly rack the clean wine off this sediment. Pad filtration then removes any remaining trace of egg white. We avoid membrane sterile filtration, a process which – to a minor but noticeable degree – affects flavor and complexity. Tasting the zinfandels throughout their time in the cellar allows us to select those lots that best express each vineyard’s character, and combine them as the vineyard-designated wine. Lots with less intense individuality are held out.