The Sterling Vineyards winemaking team believes that our wines should express true varietal character. We craft each wine with this in mind, choosing gentle techniques tailored to bring out the aromas and flavors that each Napa grape variety develops in the terroir it likes best. The resulting wines have exceptional quality that shines anywhere, with intriguing complexity that brings out the best in a wide variety of cuisines.

White Winemaking

After grapes for Sterling Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are harvested during the coolest hours, they go directly to press as whole clusters. The majority of Sauvignon Blanc is cold fermented in stainless steel to retain bright fruit character, with the small balance fermented in barrel for richness and complexity. The majority of Chardonnay, on the other hand, is barrel fermented in a selection of oak for rich depth and texture. Sauvignon Blanc may age for several months in stainless steel to fully marry the bright fruit and crisp acidity. Chardonnay ages for 12 months or more in barrel on its yeast lees. Select portions of Chardonnay for the blend may undergo malolactic fermentation, in which harsher malic acid is converted to softer lactic acid. Continual stirring of the lees gives our Chardonnay wines a creamy, toasty mouthfeel that complements their elegant, fresh fruit aromas and flavors.

Red Winemaking

Grapes for our Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Shiraz wines are harvested at full ripeness and brought to the winery in small boxes. After careful hand-sorting, grapes move through the crusher-destemmer machine and on into oak tanks—or in some cases stainless steel tanks—and are inoculated with native yeasts for primary fermentation. After primary fermentation, the wines are transferred to oak barrels. Here the wines undergo malolactic fermentation in which harsher malic acid is converted to softer lactic acid. Following malolactic fermentation, wines are gently racked from barrel to barrel, leaving their sediment and lees behind. Depending on the varietal, vineyard, and vintage, winemakers give the wines 12 to 24 months of aging in carefully selected oak barrels. Barrels range in type of oak, in age, and in levels of toast—and each variable imparts different characters that interact with and complement a wine’s aromas and flavors. In 2008, we finished a new state-of-the-art winemaking facility to give our Reserve wines kid-glove treatment. The new 10,000-case facility located across from our caves features the finest red winemaking techniques, including whole-berry fermentation, barrel spinning for cap management, and much more. The resulting wines will reflect their terroir with a bold yet elegant intensity.