WindVane was created as an homage to the wind that contributes to the unique character of the wines of Western Carneros. After working with the same vineyards for years, winemaker Steven Urberg was intrigued by some of the windiest vineyard blocks on the estate. The wines coming from these wind-blown vines are concentrated with great depth of fruit and a generous mouthfeel. WindVane is selected from the most expressive parcels throughout our 335 acres of estate vineyards in the Carneros region of Northern California. Our unique property has an East facing exposure with a mountain range directly alongside the West side of the vineyards. The mountains provide altitude, shallow rocky soils, shade from the intense afternoon sun and they also serve to funnel the intense Pacific Coast breezes directly onto the vineyards. We select vines from the steepest, rockiest areas of the vineyards where the soils are very thin and the vines are challenged throughout the growing season. They face the natural elements of a cooler marine layer in the mornings and afternoons, and intense wind which results in small crops of very slow ripening fruit that produce intense character.
The nose opens up with creamy ripe peach and pineapple with a hint of brioche. The fruit intensifies on mouth adding apricot and a touch of citrus. In the background is sweet toasty oak that serves to support the fruit, and the crisp acidity finishes out with some mineral at the very end.
The partial malolactic fermentation and oak aging compliment semi-hard cheeses such as goat gouda or cave aged cheddar with pepper pineapple jam, add herb roasted macadamia nuts to round out your cheese board. Pairs well with a variety of main courses including grilled garlic and saffron prawns, savory Dungeness crab bread pudding, adobo rubbed chicken with salsa verde, or citrus grilled pork tenderloin with orange marmalade glaze
The growing season of 2015 brought some challenges to our harvest. The spring brought us very early bud break but fortunately no frost. However during bloom the weather turned cold and rainy which resulted in the vines setting a very small crop. Weather through the summer was optimal without any excessive heat spikes or rain events. Between the small crop, the early budbreak and bloom the warm summer the fruit ripened to a near record early harvest. We started picking at the end of July, and while a couple of heat spikes during harvest kept us on our toes, mostly moderate weather allowed us to bring in the fruit at a reasonable rate. With the small crop and good weather the vines produced grapes with excellent concentration and intense character.
The Chardonnay grapes from individual vineyard blocks were gently hand harvested at night into small 30# picking boxes in order to bring the fruit into the winery intact and cold. Then they are gently whole cluster pressed and transferred to a stainless steel tank for cold settling. The racked juice was inoculated and transferred to French oak barrels (20% new) in our barrel caves for barrel fermentation. About 25% of the wine was allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation to soften the bright acidity of our Carneros Chardonnay. During monthly topping the barrels were stirred (battonage) to mix the lees to build the supple mouthfeel of the wine. The wine rested for 9 months prior to bottling.