The winery reflects our commitment to excellence. All the equipment is state of the art, a perfect blend between technology and tradition.
Located in the center of our vineyard with a 360 degree view of the whole estate, our winery is small but efficient. We have a total of 20 tanks in the winery, allowing us the freedom and time to ferment the fruit from each block of our vineyard separately. For example, comparing Syrah from our North facing McVey block to Syrah our East facing Entry A block we find they have uniquely different characteristics; it would be a shame to blend them in the same tank. Separating these fermentations allows us to use a more creative approach in creating the perfect blends using the uniquie characteristics of each block.
At harvest, the grapes are manually sorted on our crush pad located behind the winery to eliminate leaves, vegetable parts, unripe clusters and dry berries. The red varietals are 100% de-stemmed and carried to the tank via conveyor belt. Various small tanks are used to respect the source of each lot throughout vinification. A thermostat is used on each tank to maintain as close as possible the perfect temperature. The cold control is used for pre-maceration to develop more fruit characteristics, the hot for fermentation and post-maceration to obtain elegant and stable tannins.
The white varietals are given a light pressing. The juice is then transferred to a stainless steel tank to allow the sediment to drop. Primary and malolactic ( if needed) fermentation takes place in French oak barrels.
As of 2016, we finally completed a long but exciting project...underground caves. By having caves we no longer have to use outside energy (ie:air conditioning) to keep them temperature cool at all times and the humidity just right. In the caves, the temperature is consistently cool at 58 - 60 degrees F and the humidity is naturally always at 75% - 80%. Also, air conditioning dries out the air which results in evaporation and loss of wine. Therefore, by no longer using it, we will have less evaporation and more wine. Lastly, we will be able to contain a more stable alcohol percentage with our wines as before it would increase .2-.3% due to the evaporation. The first vintage to be completely aged in the caves will be the 2016 vintage which is where we will see the advantages of this consistency.
In terms of aging we use first and foremost French oak. Because of its origin and texture, it does not require the same toasting as other oak. Stephans chooses a long, soft and deep toasting, allowing a true respect of the fruit and wine characteristics. This provides rich, soft, stable tannins and subtle vanilla and toast characteristics to the wines. Our barrels come from a variety of master coopers providing a range of barrel profiles which Stephan uses to create subtle and balanced blends. Stephan's several years works with these professionals helps him in obtaining his ideal combination of barrels from which to create his wines.
On top of aging in oak, we have also introduced some clay and cement to some of our Rhone blends. The amphora (clay) we believe, keeps more the primary aspect, aromas and freshness. The concrete limits the micro oxygenation which also keeps more vibrancy, freshness and authentic varietal aromas. Overall, the blend of oak, concrete and clay will bring (we hope) a touch more complexity to our blends.
The Tasting Room
Prior to the completion of our caves, our tasting room was located inside our winery in a small room next to our barrel room. In 2016, we finally moved in to our brand new tasting room which was part of the cave construction project. Our new tasting room is located right next to our winery. The building comes out of the hill and connects with our underground cave. The design is very simple yet elegant playing with raw material and pops of color. Guests are able to enjoy our 180 degree view while tasting through our current lineup. All tastings are by appointment only to make sure that our tasting room team can give a one on one experience with all our guests.