The grapes came primarily from vineyards in the Central Coast and Lodi regions, both excellent sources for high-quality Merlot. Mild summer weather and a relatively light crop in these areas contributed to an impressive concentration of color, aroma and flavor in the fruit, which was harvested in fine condition before the sun vamoosed and Jack Frost – or Jack Nicholson – came nipping at our heels.
We night-harvested the fruit, crushed it into stainless steel fermenters, then inoculated the juice with a cultured yeast. (Yes, yeast are highly cultured.) The juice fermented for a week at 70-800 F. and was pumped over the grape skins several times daily to maximize extraction of color, flavor and tannin. A judicious dollop of French and American oak enhanced the wine’s texture and complexity, as did blending in small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. (Go, Big Red!)