In the micro-climate of the Carneros, cool weather during spring flowering impacted vine yields, but with lower yields quality generally increases, and that is the tale of this vintage. Ample winter rains continued to recharge aquifers and rebuild storage lost during drought years. Near perfect summer weather with traditional diurnal temperature swings averaging 25-40 degrees defined the sunny days, cool nights mantra. Where August cooled a bit, allowing for extended hang time and allowing flavors to more fully develop, a high-pressure system stalled and held cooling fog off the coast line as September arrived, leading to the earliest harvest experienced at Grace Benoist, finishing just after Labor Day.
The grapes for this wine were handpicked at night to preserve freshness and acidity. They were placed in open-top fermenters for 3-5 days of cold maceration followed by fermentation. Some 20 percent of the fruit was kept whole cluster during fermentation to add further complexity, buoyancy of aromatics and an element of structure and refinement. We performed punch downs during the early stages of fermentation with the extraction becoming gentler as the wine became dry, and followed with a quiet extended maceration to help enhance the richness and mouthfeel of the wine. We lightly pressed the wine into small French oak barrels where it rested for 14 months. The wine was bottled with no fining or filtration.