"Our philosophy in our winemaking is for each wine in each vintage to be the ultimate expression of our land and of the year in which they are grown. They represent a snapshot of all of the conditions during the growing season, the weather, the hard work of the vineyard and cellar teams all summed up in one glass." - Ames Morison
Harvest happens overnight so the grapes arrive cold into the winery. In the cellar we focus on extracting color during the fermentation. Color molecules form a stable complex with tannin molecules which contribute to softness in the wine. Hillside Cabernet Sauvignon grown in Sonoma County and especially in the Alexander Valley has a tendency to offer a lot of tannin, so our biggest challenge is extracting as much color as possible without too much tannin. First we do a pre-fermentation maceration or cold soak followed by long pumpovers with high fermentation temperatures in the early stages of fermentation. Then we drain and press the wine before there has been too much tannin pick up.
When fermentation is complete, we “barrel down” in mostly French oak barrels. The oak barrel is the perfect aging device for wine. The tight pores in the wood keep the barrel water- or wine-tight, but there is still a tiny amount of oxygen that passes through the grain of the wood into the wine. Aging our wines for ~18 months allows just enough slow metered Oxygen to come into contact with the wine to soften the tannins to make it ready to drink.
We work with 12 different coopers, using wood from many French Oak forests. Our preference is for barrels made from oak trees grown in cool, dry forests which grow more slowly, giving that wood a tighter grain. The tighter grain limits the amount of oxygen that passes through the wood into the wine, creating elegance. Our red wines are generally aged for 18-20 months before bottling where we allow the wines to rest before releasing. Our philosophy is that you should be able to enjoy the wine the day you get it.