How do we produce the best Merlot in Napa Valley? The same way we produce our Cabernet Sauvignon. With fanatical attention to detail at every stage. We blend Cabernet into Merlot and Merlot into the Cabernet.
The grapes for both wines come from our own vineyards, which provides us with complete control. During the growing season we prune, train and thin the crop obsessively.
After harvest the grapes are crushed and fermented in tanks and bins. Fermentation generally takes ten to fourteen days. The juice is drained from the grape skins and placed in French oak barrels. (We use the same oak for both our Merlot and our Cabernet.) The grape skins are then pressed and that juice is also placed in French oak barrels. A small portion of the crushed grapes and juice are kept in bins for approximately 30 days to extract additional flavors and tannins from the grape skins.
The wine is aged in barrels for over twenty months. (Again, both varietals are similarly aged.) Over that time, the barrels are racked several times.
When our winemaker feels the wines are ready, the Cabernet and Merlot are blended with each other to give each wine complexity and additional flavors.
After bottling, the wines are aged in the bottle for a number of months before they are released so that no wines with “bottle shock” reach our customers.
The 2005 Sauvignon Blanc grapes come mainly from St. Helena and Yountville vineyards. Over 80 percent of the vines are more than 20 years old. The whole berries are pressed, settled, and then fermented in stainless steel tanks. The wine is then aged in wood tanks and thereafter in stainless steel tanks.
Mike Seitz, Bruce Ahnfeldt, and Kris Weber
sort cabernet grapes during the 2002 harvest