Our winemaking starts early in the year, assessing and discussing with our winegrowers the just-concluded harvest and planning vineyard activities for the year ahead. As harvest approaches, we spend most of our time in the vineyards, constantly tasting and sampling. Every minute spent in the vineyard, and the accumulated experience with the same vineyards year after year, seems to yield ever-greater results.
Once the grapes are in the winery, there is no pre-prescribed methodology. We have found that some approaches work better than others with certain varieties and sites, and those often act as the starting point for the discussion of that wine’s journey - keeping in mind that each year is unique. Owing to close working relationships with our growers in well-managed, marginal climate vineyards, we allow the grapes to choose their own path, not intervening in their journey into wine. After resting in barrel, if we feel that a particular wine is delicious, unique, and indicative of its source, it has the opportunity to be released.
2017 Chardonnay Olson
Olson displays a “crunchy” acidity, not unlike Chenin Blanc. Just 5 miles off the Pacific Ocean, the climate is incredibly cold. Locals colloquially call Prunedale “Prunetucky”, and Olson is a large sand dune rising above the town, just west of the 101 and facing the ocean. Typically this wine shows dried honey, Asian pear, and roasted pineapple on top of a distinct saline note.
2017 Chardonnay Pelio
Pelio is muscular but lean, like an ironman competitor. The Upper Block sits above Robert Talbott’s long-famous Diamond T vineyard, and gets a perfect mix of sunlight, ocean breeze, and diurnal shift owing to its elevation. Pelio Chardonnay typically has a very sweet-tart fruit core: lemon curd, quince, and mirabelle plum. The Aguajito shale soils here give an impression of chalk and blanched almond.
2017 Chardonnay Simpatico Ranch
Old-Vine Wente Clone Chardonnay sits on the valley floor, fog filtering the sunlight in the warmest part of the afternoon. Simpatico Ranch often shows a richer, dense creamy texture, with a more exotic flavor spectrum: mandarin, ginger, mango, tarragon, and crushed gravel.
2017 Pinot Noir Brosseau
The topology at Brosseau is extremely complex and irregular, like few vineyards I have ever seen. The Swale is a small subplot planted to Pinot Noir where the morning fog collects, and burns off an hour or so later than the surrounding hillsides, slowing the ripening and allowing for flavor development without extra sugar accumulation. Our first vintage shows blue plum, black cherry, red licorice, cinnamon, and clove.
2017 Grenache Brosseau
As mentioned above, the Brosseau is a complex vineyard - to me, it’s more a collection of 6-7 very distinct sites. The Hillsides is planted to the painfully low-yielding Clone 362, rich and wild, with darker color and bigger tannin than you would expect from Grenache. Our first vintage shows roasted strawberries, smoked ham, pink peppercorns, white pepper, rosehips, and green olive.
2017 Grenache Four Sisters
Four Sisters sits just on the other side of the Monterey County line, in the far north of Paso Robles. The Terraces is a tiny garden-esque naturally terraced plot of head-trained, dry-farmed old-vine Grenache. A west-facing exposure and natural shade keeps ripeness in check, leading to a lighter, more red-fruited style of Grenache. Fruit-driven with Maraschino, boysenberry, black pepper, and cracked stones.