Short documentary on a day of harvest work at the winery.
Low yields tend to make higher quality wines.
• Low yielding vines can push wines beyond their varietal distinction by expressing unique vineyard characteristics.
• We buy all of our fruit by the acre. It’s expensive but gives us better control over vineyard practices and yields.
• Longer growing seasons can bring more complexity to the grapes thus we prefer vineyard sites in the cooler climates of the Santa Maria Valley and Santa Rita Hills.
Decisions have to be made and intervention is inevitable in crafting wine.
• We give all of our red grapes the opportunity to undergo fermentations naturally. This approach helps express characteristics unique to the vineyard that would otherwise be mostly lost by a systematic inoculation of wine musts with cultured yeast strains.
• Sulphur Dioxide is used conservatively to avoid losing subtleties in the wine.
• No chemical cleaning agents are used. Steam is used to sanitize barrels, tanks and winery materials.
• Acid additions are avoided. We farm to harvest ripe grapes with balanced natural acidity.
• Stainless steel tanks are used for fermentation and temporary storage of wines, not for maturation.
All of our wines are matured in oak. Barrels are an aging vessel used for a slow controlled development of wine, not as a substitute for complexities.
• New barrels are bought to replace older barrels when the older barrels reach the end of their usefulness. They are treated with steam and boiling water before use to reduce any excessive oak influence on the wine.
• Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé are aged in older barrels for about 6 months.
• Chardonnays are usually aged in barrel for 10-14 months. We utilize 0-10% new barrels in the process to keep oak flavors in the background.
• Pinot Noir has the ability to integrate new oak components better than Syrah. It is usually aged about 11-18 months in 10-25% new oak barrels.
• Syrahs have about 0-20% new oak. The Santa Barbara County Syrah is usually aged for 14 months in barrel. The single-vineyard Syrahs and Grenaches are usually aged for 18-27 months in barrel.
Fining and filtration:
We try to make wines that don’t need to be fined or filtered. These tools are used to help stabilize some wines that may be at risk for the growth of undesirable bacteria.
• Whites are usually fined and sometimes filtered.
• Reds are rarely fined and rarely filtered.
The bottling process is very hard on wine.
• Wines usually go through “bottle shock” after they are bottled. Some wines can take over a year to recover their initial expression and balance.
• Before releasing our wines, we typically age them in bottle for at least as long as they were in barrel.
Cellaring Ojai wines:
Our wines are enjoyable and expressive in their youth, but they usually show more distinction and complexity with bottle age. Great wines become even better with age.
• Sauvignon Blanc – We have had great success with these. Even some wines from the early 90s have continued to evolve positively. They will not disappoint you 2 to 10 years after vintage date.
• Chardonnay – They are aging very well and hit stride after 3 years and peak somewhere between7-15 years.
• Pinot Noir – These wines really show their true colors 5 -8 years after vintage, peaking around 6-12 years.
• Syrahs – The Syrahs that are more approachable in their youth seem to age well but start their plateau at about 5 years. The wines with massive structure and intensity seem to start showing their beauty after about 8-10 years after vintage date.
Serving our wines:
Decanting wines young and old helps to reveal true character.
• Most well-crafted young wines benefit greatly from aeration before tasting.
• Aged wines usually need aeration and a separation from their sediment. They also taste better with more time in the decanter
• Ancient wines can fall apart quickly after decanting. Best to not let them sit for a long time before drinking.
• In our experience most of our wines show better when they are decanted at least an hour or more before tasting.
• You may find our wines are most expressive between the 3rd and 8th hour after decanting.
Dogmatic thinking limits the evolution of creative and intuitive winemaking. After 30 years of winemaking the constant pursuit of new and better ways of uncovering unique and special characteristics from each vineyard is my goal.