Harvest is truly underway! We are bringing in fruit nearly every morning from both our certified biodynamic Purisima Mountain Vineyard and our Thomas and Judith Beckmen Estate Vineyard. See our crew in action when you watch the video below, and read on to discover how we turn our grapes into wine.
In our Estate Vineyards
Fall is by far the busiest time of year in our vineyards as we are harvesting our 150 acres of biodynamic grapes. Our vineyard crew handpicks the grapes from both of our vineyards overnight, starting around 10pm and continuing until daybreak. They pick at night to avoid the intense daytime heat and to ensure the grapes arrive at the winery cold and in good condition come morning. They will pick anywhere from a couple of tons to up to 25 tons per night, depending on how the grapes are maturing and what the weather forecast looks like. Our vineyard crew has the important job of being our first sorters, selecting only the highest quality clusters to be turned into wine.
Inside our Winery
All our wines are crafted through small lot winemaking in order to capture the individuality of each block on both of our vineyards. As the different grape varieties arrive to the winery crushpad, we keep the various blocks, clones, and rootstocks separated during the winemaking process. We then blend our wines from this collection of small lots so that each wine has more depth and distinct layers of flavor.
Our white wines are made by fermenting grape juice:
- Grape clusters are put directly into the press and are pressed for their juice.
- The juice is put into stainless steel tanks/barrels or older oak barrels, where it settles and is clarified.
- The fermentation begins slowly at a cool temperature, taking between two to four weeks depending on the variety and what it’s fermented in.
- The wine ages for between five to eight months and is then bottled.
Our red wines are made by fermenting the grapes themselves, not the juice:
- Grape clusters are put on a conveyer, where they are examined for overall quality.
- The clusters fall into a destemmer which separates the berries from the stem, and then the berries fall through a multi-layer berry sorter which takes out jacks and underripe berries.
- The grapes are put into a box or tank where they will soak for three to five days depending on the variety.
- We add some heat to the tank or move the box into the sunshine, where warmer temperatures will kick off the fermentation process.
- The red grapes ferment on the skins in these tanks/boxes for as little as 12 days or as many as 21 days. We will pump over the tanks and punch down the boxes one to three times a day in order to break-up and submerge the cap (grape skins and seeds) into the wine.
- Once fermented to almost dry, we drain the tanks/boxes in order to get the free run wine which is the highest quality wine.
- The tanks/boxes are drained into the press and a gentle press begins. This first press wine is usually combined with the free run wine. We continue to press the grapes for several cycles, until all the wine has been extracted.
- The wine is put into oak barrels, where it will age for between 10 to 32 months and is then bottled.