In the Cellar with Dan

from vine to bottle


Once Steve has done his job and the fruit is harvested, it's time to come to the cellar and begin the process of transformation into wine. For our white wines, we put the whole clusters into a bladder press, a balloon inside expands and gently presses the berries against the surrounding cylinder. As this happens, the juice is drained out below and then put into a cold tank for a few days before heading to barrel to ferment.

For red wines, the berries are carefully hand sorted on a belt, picking out any imperfect berries and any leaves that may have made it into the bin. From there, the clusters continue to a destemmer, which separates the berries from the stems, and the berries flow into an awaiting bin. The bin is then transferred to a tank to cold soak for about 5 to 7 days. During this time, we gently push down the berries that float to the top, keeping the cap submerged. This process extracts the color and flavors from the skins without the bitter qualities from the seeds. After about 5 days, we turn off the glycol jackets keeping the tank cold and let the fermentation begin. The temperature gets to about 85-90 degrees, and the fermentation goes about 5 days. At this point, we either press the juice off the skins as soon as it's dry, or we let it sit on skins for another week. If we let it sit, we never punch down other than to keep the cap wet, and we always re-cover the tank and gas it to keep oxygen off the cap.

Once the wine is pressed off the skins, it goes to barrel for anywhere from 10 to 20 months, depending on the wine (shorter for Zinfandel and our Dutton Ranch Pinot Noir, longer for single-vineyard pinots and syrah).