“We started our first day of harvest on Aug 16, 2016 with our Pinot Grigio, then segued into our Sauvignon Blanc on Aug 19, and completed our last Sauvignon Blanc harvest on Aug 26. We will now have roughly a 2-week window between our next picks, particularly with the cooler weather we are experiencing.
We have a new planting of Chardonnay at our Lavender Hill vineyard that is about 2 weeks away. Also, we have Merlot at the Komes Ranch at the Flora Springs Estate that is approximately 2 weeks away as well.
The Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc are fermenting at the moment. In the first photo, you will see a Sauvignon Blanc fermentation taking place in a temperature controlled stainless steel tank – These grapes were picked at 23.4 brix, and is currently at 5 brix. As the yeast consumes the sugars, you get approximately .6% alc per brix, so the current alcohol is about 10.4%, and once the yeast has consumed all the sugars, the final alcohol will be roughly 13.9%. We ferment at 55 degrees F, and the process takes roughly 3 weeks or so. We raise the temperature towards the end of fermentation as to prevent yeast stress and ensure the fermentation will reach completion.
In the second photo you will see some 60 gallon oak barrels, as well as some 135 gallon oak puncheons that are being used to ferment Sauvignon Blanc as well. You will notice a series of stainless tubing connected by glycol hoses. We have this manifold system connected to a thermostat where we are able to control the temperature of the fermentation just like in the tank. The plastic bag you see on top, just seal the bung holes, will allow CO2 from the fermentation to escape.”
“We harvested our first grapes today – Pinot Grigio. Pinot Grigio from a distance looks more like a red grape than a white grape, but they actually have more of a brown skin color to them when harvested. The grapes were picked early morning to take advantage of the cool weather. They are all handpicked and gently poured into 1/2 ton bins.”
The creation of Trilogy goes back to 1984 when our family set out to make the best wine possible by selecting the highest quality lots from our estate vineyards. More than 30 years later, we are proud to present the 2012 Trilogy, a wine Robert Parker calls one of our “most iconic red wines.”
Here our winemaker, Paul Steinhauer, tells us what goes into blending our flagship wine.
Q: Do you know ahead of time which vineyard lots will make it into Trilogy?
Paul: Having worked with these vineyards for over three decades we definitely have a sense which lots will make the cut. Over time Trilogy has evolved into a true “winery estate” wine, and what’s interesting is that our estate actually spans two appellations, Rutherford and St. Helena. The majority of the Cabernet Sauvignon as well as the Malbec, Petite Verdot, Merlot and Cabernet Franc come from vineyards that surround the winery. We also use grapes from our Crossroads Vineyard in Oakville, as well as our Windfall Vineyard in the southern part of Rutherford.
Q: When do you compose the Trilogy blend?
Paul: We begin in the spring after the harvest year as we start to get a sense of how the wines are evolving. We make two blends of each variety: two Cabernet Sauvignons, two Merlots, two Malbecs, etc. These blends might be assembled from 30 or more wine lots. At this point, even though we’re creating individual varietal blends, we’re envisioning how each varietal will react with the other varietals down the road.
The next stage is approximately 16 months later when we determine the final varietal makeup. Not all of our original components will be used. For instance, in some vintages Cabernet Franc brings something to the table, in other vintages it doesn’t. We know the foundation of the blend is Cabernet Sauvignon, and we integrate the other varietals to create a wine that has great aromatics, is fruit forward and rich on the palate, and finishes with a soft silkiness. If the wine has these attributes, drinks well on its own and can accompany a variety of foods, then we’ve achieved our goal.
Q: Who is involved in the blending process?
Paul: In addition to the winemaking team the Komes and Garvey family is very much a part of the blending decision. We also often invite a wine industry person outside of Flora Springs to join for some of the tastings. It’s always nice to get another perspective from an industry professional, whether a winemaker or perhaps a sommelier. It makes for healthy discussions!
Q: How does the 2012 Trilogy compare to past vintages?
Paul: Over the past three decades, there have been some legendary vintages of Trilogy. However, the 2012 vintage may prove to be the best of all. The planets aligned at harvest to create the absolute ideal growing conditions. With these perfectly ripe grapes, we were able to craft a wine that possesses all the traits we strive for – inviting aromatics, silky, rich fruit across the palate, and a finish that begs for another sip.
We have always loved the exotic character of late harvest white wines, and in 2012 we set aside a small quantity of Chardonnay from our Lavender Hill Vineyard in Carneros to make just one barrel of this rich and decadent dessert wine. Our Star Star Chardonnay is absolutely dripping with aromas of honey, bright orange blossom, rich almond and baked caramel apples. Full, luxurious flavors of apricot, orange liqueur, marzipan and apple tatin coat the mouth and linger long into the finish. With its unique warmth and richness, this wine is a perfect accompaniment to fruit tarts and soft cheeses, or it can be served as a dessert unto itself.
Our Star Star Late Harvest Chardonnay was made in the Italian style of “appassimento” (meaning to dry and shrivel), just as the famous Amarone (Veneto) and Sfursat (Lombardia) wines are made each year. The making of appassimento-style wine dates back over 3500 years to the ancient Romans, who regarded it as an elixir of the gods. Just one bottle of this wine requires over two pounds of fresh grapes.
The grapes were harvested on October 31st at 24.7 degrees Brix. Handled individually to avoid breakage or crushing, each cluster was hung up (strung by hand onto long pieces of string) or set out to dry on large burlap sacks, allowing plenty of air flow. After five weeks of drying the weight of the clusters was reduced by roughly 30% and the Brix level was elevated to 33.6 degrees. The greater concentration of sugar was accompanied by a distinct change in flavors and aromatics. After careful pressing, the wine was aged in one neutral French oak barrel for 13 months.
Limited availability – only one barrel produced. Shop now. >
The photos below were taken by the winemaking team at the beginning of the five week drying process.