Mt. Veeder, Napa Valley
Vineyards and Winemaking
Each year we strive to create wines that reflect site, vintage, and style. Our grapegrowing and winemaking processes seek to highlight the power and focus of mountain grown Merlot. Our six Merlot blocks are spread across the 475-acre Estate at elevations ranging from 1,800 ft to 2,200 ft. There are numerous soil profiles across these blocks, including fractured volcanic cobbles, gravelly loam and cobbled clay. The rugged topography and intense exposure result in multiple microclimates where Merlot can develop a range of flavor profiles. The plantings are primarily French Clone 181 and Clone 3. The vineyards have been farmed organically since 2013.
Our Merlot harvest typically starts the last week of August and finished the second week of September. The grapes are hand harvested early in morning and delivered to the winery cold to preserve their integrity. Our winemaking team then inspect and sort clusters before detstemming. The destemmed berries (must) is then transferred to tank for fermentation. For fermentation we use a combination of concrete tanks, stainless steel tanks and oak cooperage.
The fermenting must is pumped over and mixed each day to homogenize temperature and extract color and flavor from the skins. Fermentation and maceration (time on skins) is typically between 10 and 25 days – flavor depending. Fermentation temperatures are on the cooler side – maxing out around 78 degrees during peak fermentation. The wine is then drained off skins and the skins are pressed to extract the last remaining wine.
The Merlot is then aged in oak cooperage of various size, age, and origin. 12 Months of aging occurs in large format foudre with sizes ranging from 330-gallons (1,200L) to 1,200-gallons (45HL). These are a mix of French and American oak and quite seasoned, with some nearly 100-years old. An additional 12 months of aging occurs in 60-gallon (225 L) barrique and 132-gallon puncheon (500 L) – typically no new oak is used. Total élevage is 24 Months. Bottle conditioned for 1 year prior to release.
Out Merlot blend can vary depending on vintage. In certain vintages the bottling will be 100% Merlot. Over the years the blend has also included percentages of Cabernet Franc and/or Cabernet Sauvignon.