Because we prefer to bottle our wines unfiltered, we put together our blends early so we have several months to monitor the blended wine before it goes into bottle in the fall or following spring.
Since being harvested, each lot of wine has been fermented and barreled separately. From one vineyard, we may create several lots, as a result of:
- various exposures and clones in the vineyard;
- different yeasts that we may use to create further diversity; and
- the selection of coopers, forests or barrel toast levels in our French oak.
Prior to blending, each individual lot of wine is contemplated separately when making decisions, as the demands of fruit from different vineyards are tremendously different. The ultimate goal is to optimize the quality of each individual vineyard lot, and create the finest sum of these parts. Also, by keeping these lots separate, we can utilize the unique characteristics of each as a tool to fine-tune our blends.
When we conduct our tasting trials, we put the wine lots into like groupings of no more than six, then these wines are tasted blind and notes made on their aromas, mouthfeel, and flavor profiles. The initial decisions for what will go into the Dutton Ranch blends and what stands out as really unique and should be highlighted as a single-vineyard designate wine are made at this point, as well as identifying any lots that don't meet our standards and should be sold off.