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Winemaking

Every bottle of Alta Colina wine is estate grown and produced. You are drinking a pure expression of our Vineyard’s soil, weather, varietal clones, rootstocks, and site. Our winemaking practices are aimed at delivering that pure fruit expression directly to you with minimum intervention.

We grow four varieties of white wine grapes, all from the Rhône Valley in France: Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Grenache Blanc. The hand-harvesting process starts pre-dawn, when the fruit is at its coolest temperature. We visually inspect each cluster in the field as it is picked. The fruit is at the Winery by 6am, where it is gently pressed to extract the sweet grape juice. After pressing, we return the stems and grape skins to the Vineyard to create compost.  Although we ferment and age a fraction of our white wines in stainless steel to capture freshness, the majority are aged in a combination of traditional French barriques and large-format puncheons.  We age our whites sur lie (on its lees) and we incorporate batonnage (stirring of the lees) to enhance mouthfeel and build texture.  To maintain natural acidity, none of our white wines undergo malolactic fermentation.  We age our Grenache Blanc for four months prior to bottling while the remainder of our whites spend 16 months in primarily neutral barrels.

We also grow four varieties of red wine grapes, again all Rhônes: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Petite Sirah. The situation here is a bit more complex as we have three clones of Syrah and four of Grenache that are all  harvested and vinified separately.  While the literal hand-harvesting process is identical to our white wines, between so many more fermentation lots and our individualized approach to each lot, our red wine program has many more moving parts.

As each lot enters the Winery we begin by hand-sorting each cluster prior to de-stemming, which gently separates the berries from the rechis (stems).  The berries then undergo another level of hand-sorting where two to four people manually remove anything less than perfect.  Those berries then go into open-top vessels to undergo fermentation.

We allow the native yeasts from the Vineyard to kick off the fermentation, which generally takes about five days to begin.  Through a combination of daily tasting and analysis, Winemaker Molly Lonborg and our team determine an approach to cap management on a lot-by-lot basis.  Cap management typically includes a mix of pump overs, punch-downs, and delestage (rack and return).

After fermentation, the free-run and press wines are separated and aged in various types of oak to undergo malolactic fermentation.  We use a variety of oak ranging from 228 liter barriques to 500 liter puncheons from France, Hungary, and the U.S.  After six to eight months, we taste each lot and then rack the wines off their heavy lees to create initial blends.  Once initial blends are in place, the wines age for another fourteen to sixteen months for a grand total of 22 months in barrel before bottling.  Upon bottling, we pre-cellar the wines for an average of one year before release so they’re ready to enjoy when you receive your member shipment!

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