Rutherford Dust Society: Day in the Dust Tasting

July 18, 2019

The Rutherford AVA produces some of the most critically-acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignons in Napa Valley, and each year, the Rutherford Dust Society (RDS), of which Flora Springs is a member, holds an exclusive tasting it calls “Day in the Dust.”

Normally open only to trade and media, the tasting this year will be open for the first time to consumers in celebration of RDS’s 25th Anniversary. On top of that, it will be held at the prestigious and beautiful St. Francis Yacht Club!

The tasting will feature new-release Cabernet Sauvignons from incredible Rutherford producers, including our own Winemaker Paul Steinauer who will pour our 2016 Rutherford Hillside Reserve. There will also be light snacks, a fun photo booth, and the best view of the Bay from the St. Francis Yacht Club. Attendance is limited to 200 people, so get your tickets today.

Learn more and purchase tickets.

Harvest 2018: Update #2 from Winemaker Paul Steinauer

September 18, 2018

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018 was a day of “firsts” at Flora Springs: the first day we harvested Chardonnay as well as the first day of harvesting reds. We hand-picked our Lavender Hill block of Chardonnay in Carneros in the morning. The ½ ton bins were delivered to the winery where the juice was pressed out of clusters. The fruit tasted terrific! It’s very tropical, with nice apple and pear characteristics and a good acid balance.

Napa Valley Grape Harvest
Just-picked Chardonnay fruit about to be pressed

 

Napa Valley Grape Harvest
Skins, stems and seeds left over after the Chardonnay has been pressed

The Chardonnay juice resided in a holding tank at 45°F for 24 hours, and then we moved it to another tank and inoculated it with yeast. Once fermentation gets going we’ll move the juice to various fermentation vessels, including puncheons (a large 130-gallon oak barrel), standard 60-gallon oak barrels, as well as concrete eggs, which some of you may have seen in our cave. We ferment our Chardonnay at cool temperatures to retain aromatics. It’ll take upward of three weeks to ferment the juice to dryness.

We also picked two blocks of Merlot on Tuesday, both from the Rutherford appellation: our Windfall Vineyard at the very southern end of the Rutherford appellation, and a block on the Komes Ranch at the winery’s estate, at the very northern end of the appellation. Block B of the Komes Ranch is the first block to your right as you enter the estate, and the eastern section of this block is always about a week to 10 days ahead of the rest, so we pick this section first. Like the Chardonnay, the Merlots look and taste terrific. In both blocks the grapes were very well balanced on the vine and taste fantastic!

Napa Valley Grape Harvest Merlot
Merlot from the Komes Ranch gets poured into a hopper
Napa Valley Grape Harvest Merlot
Our crew picks out any extraneous leaves or twigs from the just-picked Merlot clusters
Napa Valley Grape Harvest Merlot
The Merlot clusters are fed from a conveyor into the crusher/de-stemmer where the stems will be removed and the grapes lightly crushed
Napa Valley Grape Harvest Merlot
The crushed/de-stemmed grapes are further sorted with an “air knife” to remove any dehydrated or less than perfect berries
Napa Valley Grape Harvest Merlot
The grapes are fed through an augur and pumped into tanks where they will undergo a “cold soak” for several days

With the Merlot, we “cold soak” the fruit for about four days at 50°F. During that time we do “pumpovers,” where we pump juice from the bottom of the tank and irrigate the cap that forms at the top of the tank. This helps us get color, flavor and tannin from the skins. On the fifth day, we warm up the tank and inoculate the juice with yeast. We ferment at about 85°F, pumping over anywhere from one to three times a day depending on the stage of fermentation.

The cooler than normal temperatures we’re seeing this harvest is allowing fruit flavors to develop slowly on the vine without the spike in sugar – which is a great thing! When we can obtain physiological ripeness with lower sugar, it’s a gift from Mother Nature. We’ll have a bit of a break before we bring in the next grapes, but we expect to harvest some Sangiovese and additional Merlot within the next week. It looks to be another magical harvest!

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