Joe’s Winemaking Notes: January 2017

Happy New Year

I hope all of you were able to spend a great deal of time with family and friends, and enjoyed our wines during your celebrations! It’s a new year, and daylight is finally starting to gain ground on darkness. (I always look forward to this transition, during post-winter solstice months!)


Un-Oaked Chardonnay

One of the first wines bottled each vintage is our Un-Oaked Chardonnay, and the 2016 vintage is already bottled! This happened only two and a half months after the grapes were harvested, while the wine was still fresh in our tanks. Since we don’t require any barrel extraction or malolactic fermentation in this wine, an early bottling has proven to be the best method for making this wine. Immediately after the wine finishes “primary” fermentation (the conversion of grape sugars to alcohol and carbon dioxide), we chill the young wine. Then, we filter it to remove the spent yeast cells. Next follows the blending of selected vineyard lots, while we look for a combination that expressed the most exciting fruit aromatics and flavors.


Unifying wine is the closest thing to alchemy that I’ve experienced; unlocking a golden beauty hidden in the individual wines, by finding the right combinations and ratios. Much trial and error is required in our blending lab, to get it just right; and, we love the challenge!

Compared to our barrel fermented lots, which will remain on their yeast “lees” for as much as 10 months, the Un-Oaked Chardonnay is all about the fruit. Balanced acidity and lower alcohol make this wine a real gem. We love the flavor profile of the Chardonnay fruit from the 2016 vintage, and how it was captured in this bottling blend.

Alvaro Zamora’s New Vineyard Tool

In order to add efficiency and operate more safely in the vineyard, we recently purchased a set of powered pruning shears. When pruning, our goal is to make the cleanest, most consistent cuts in the correct location, every time. These pruners make easy work of cuts through woody parts of the grapevine; and, with a vest mounted battery, they’ll last all day.

Click here to see video

New Release On December 21, The Winter Solstice

We released our latest wine, the 2015 Ron Rubin Green Valley of Russian River Valley Pinot Blanc, on December 21. Pinot Blanc is a white skinned mutation of Pinot Noir. It’s a perfect “winter white,” when grown in a cool climate, such as the one found in Green Valley. With textures commonly associated with lighter red wines, our Pinot Blanc is great for pairing with food. (Aged cheeses are especially well suited.) The aromas and flavors, however, remind you that you’re drinking a white wine, with crisp apple and a range of ripe citrus flavors.

Our Pinot Blanc has already received 91 Points from Wine Enthusiast Magazine, as well as other high marks from critics and visitors to the winery, and will be a great wine to enjoy throughout the new year. I can assure you that it was a constant presence at my holiday celebrations!

Cheers!