Our Winery Exclusive wines allow us to create small lot offerings each vintage from unique vineyards where we can highlight both the varietal and the terroir of the region. These limited release wines are available only to guests of the winery and our wine club members, and often result in just a few barrels each vintage.
Bright cherries and ripe plums slip in on the palate, lifting the flavors into a spicy finish. Generous and round, with medium weight and supple tannins, this wine is a welcome companion to barbecued hamburgers, baked penne or roasted pork.
The 2015 growing season was marked by pleasant weather with little pressure from heat spikes or unseasonable rain. A dry winter was quickly followed by an equally dry spring, leading to an early bud break. Warm weather continued throughout late spring and summer, allowing for the steady development of flavors. The overall quality, complexity and balance in the vines produced exceptional fruit. The impact of the continuing drought was evident in slightly lighter crop loads, but the reduction in size was offset by an increase in quality as vineyard crews carefully selected fruit at harvest, allowing for only the finest to be chosen for this special bottling.
With close proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the nights remain slightly chilly, but the days are generally long, dry and quite hot. This balance of temperatures allows for long hang times and slow, even development of fruit on the vine, ultimately producing grapes with ripe, jammy fruit, juicy acidity and soft tannin structure.
Because Zinfandel's large clusters can develop unevenly, we allowed the fruit to hang on the vine, patiently waiting for even cluster maturity and the development of rich, jammy fruit character. Gentle hand harvesting and cold soaking of the grapes prior to fermentation preserved their intricate nuances. During fermentation, we performed regular pump-overs several times a day, keeping skins and juice in constant contact for maximum extraction of aromas and flavors. We aged the wine in French and American oak barrels for 18 months, contributing both structure and spice to the overall wine.
Director of Winemaking Harry Hansen was raised in nearby Sonoma County. “One of my earliest memories of wine was the gallon jug of red wine that we always had at home. I would go with my father to a local winery, maybe in Kenwood or Healdsburg, to refill that jug and chit-chat with the winery proprietors. The aromas of those wines were always something attractive, somehow mysterious, but always memorable.”
Harry joined Sterling Vineyards and relocated to Napa Valley just before the 2011 Harvest. “The opportunity to join such a respected Napa Valley winery is exciting and a fantastic next step in my winemaking career. Sterling Vineyards is making some wonderful wines, and I look forward to taking that next step up in quality and reputation.”