Cecelia McClellan and her late husband Chris planted the vineyard in 2004. It is east facing in the coastal foothills at a fairly high elevation. The soil is Jory, and the site is cooler than most – that gives us the bright acidity in the wine. We always look forward to tasting Menefee because it is so unusual. The vineyard characteristically gives us flavors of blueberry and blackberry. The middle palate is rich with flavors of cedar, fresh-cut wood, blueberries, and raspberries. The finish is long and brings an encore of blue fruit. It reminds Rob of when he was a kid and would pick wild blueberries on a farm in New Hampshire every August. We’ve even made some sparkling wine from this fruit – just a tiny batch – which was, not surprisingly, quite spectacular.
When the fruit comes in from the vineyard to the winery, the first thing we do is destem it – without crushing – into small I-ton fermenters. We use proprietary yeast, which we’ve cultured from that year’s vineyard samples. Using strains from our many vineyards gives us some complexity. Later in the fermentation process, we delestage (a kind of rack and return). The result is large, soft tannins – just the kind we like. We rarely use new oak in our cellar as we much prefer the gentle aging achieved with neutral French oak. In addition our reserve wines are never filtered.
Our goal for each wine is just the right amount of soft tannins, balances with luscious fruit and bright acidity.