Sparkling winemaking at Gloria Ferrer is defined by a house style, and people who appreciate wine with bubbles know that the best producers are revered for their consistency. Executive Winemaker Bob Iantosca and Winemaker Steven Urberg move seamlessly from vineyard to cellar, from sparkling wine to estate varietal wines, and from a rich history of winemaking to the individuality of each new vintage and each new wine. Rooted in a dynamic blend of innovation and tradition, Gloria Ferrer’s winemakers use creativity, ingenuity, and a gentle hand to reveal the distinctive Carneros terroir in sparkling and estate varietal wines made to pair perfectly with food.
THE BASE-ICS OF SPARKLING WINE
It takes experience and imagination to record the subtle flavors and textures of an unfinished base wine (still wine before it undergoes fermentation) and project them into what a finished wine will taste like after secondary fermentation, aging, disgorging, and dosing. The most important and difficult qualities to achieve in sparkling wine, such as texture, mouthfeel, balance, and harmony, are created in the base wine. “Although the base wines are very different from the finished sparkling wines they will eventually become,” Urberg says, “I mentally construct how the nuances in the base wine will translate into the elegance of the finished wine long before they ever end up in the bottle.” This process ensures consistency from vintage to vintage.
THE PROCESS TO EXCELLENCE
Season of Abundance - Harvest
Committed to the quality of our grapes and respectful of the people who pick them, Gloria Ferrer harvests at night, a practice that conserves both natural and human resources. Dedicated to making California-style sparkling wines, the Ferrer family imported only three winemaking techniques from Spain: handpicking the grapes, carrying them to the winery in small bins to avoid oxidation, and gently pressing the fruit in whole clusters using membrane presses to prevent damage and ensure the highest quality. The juice is then transferred into stainless steel tanks to settle for 12-24 hours. The clean juice is racked and decanted off the solids and into small individual tanks where it is inoculated with yeast for the primary fermentation.
The juice ferments for approximately one week at temperatures between 55 and 65 degrees, after which time it is again racked and settled until it is ready for the initial blending in tanks. The wines are then cold and heat stabilized.
Blending, Bottling, and Aging our Sparkling Wines
Vineyard blocks are kept separate throughout the entire winemaking process. After a series of trials, final blends are chosen. Approximately 50 individual wine lots become our blending palette from which seven diverse Gloria Ferrer sparkling wines are crafted by our winemaking team. Using Gloria Ferrer’s own yeast cultures, the wines are re-inoculated and bottled. Wines go through a second fermentation after bottling. This second fermentation inside the bottle converts sugar into alcohol, producing carbon dioxide (CO2), which is what transforms still wine into elegant sparkling wine.
Bottles are secured with crown caps and laid down to age on the yeast for anywhere from 18 months up to 9 years, depending on the wine. During the aging process, trapped CO2 produces the tiny bubbles, or mousse, as well as the structure of the sparkling wine. When this stage is complete, wines are moved from tirage bins to riddling bins, where the yeasty sediment is gently shaken into the neck of the bottle. The neck is then iced to prepare for disgorgement. It takes anywhere from 2 to 10 years to make a great bottle of Gloria Ferrer sparkling wine.