WindVane was created as a 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 is greeted with intense blackberry and black cherry fruit with spice and a touch of toasty oak. The mouthfeel is big but silky and builds on the black fruit with spice and earth with a hint of cedar. The acid is bright enough to balance out the texture and carry the wine into a long finish.
The intense combination of blackberry and blueberry on the nose are a match for grilled pork loin with blackberry sage sauce. The spice components of this pi not tie in well with chipotle, adobo and raspberry marinated flank steak or even ginger spiced blueberry shortcake. The bright acid stands up to firm textured cheeses like beaufort or appenzeller. Try blue cheeses Cabrales or Point Reyes Bay Blue with a drizzle of honey and spiced nuts complete a practically perfect pinot cheeseboard.
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 bud break 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 Pinot Noir grapes from individual vineyard lots were gently hand harvested at night into small 30# picking boxes in order to bring the fruit into the winery intact and cold. They were then destemmed, lightly crushed and cold-soaked in small fermentation tanks holding 3 to 10 tons each for two days to extract color and flavors. During fermentation the grape skins were punched down or wine was pumped over one to three times per day, determined by taste, to fine tune the extraction of the skins. When optimal extraction was achieved after 10 days, the free run wine was promptly drained from the skins and seeds and transferred to barrels for aging. Only the free run wine was used in this blend. The wine rested in our barrel caves in French oak barrels (46% new) for 9 months before the wine was bottled in July of 2016.