In the Vineyards
Meticulous Attention to Detail
At Pine Ridge Vineyards, careful and continuous attention to detail and quality is paramount in our vineyards. In tending the vineyards, harvesting the fruit and crafting the wine, no effort is too great, and no detail is unimportant.
Selection of Rootstock
Selecting rootstocks that match the soil is just one example of our meticulous attention to detail. Pairing rootstocks with the right composition and nutrients help us control vigor, avoid disease and ensure optimal depth and drainage. This may be the most important decision made by a winegrower.
Planting a diversity of clonal selections — cuttings from a single “mother” vine that are grafted to select rootstocks – gives us the opportunity to enhance and perfect the flavor characteristics, as well as the complexity, of our wines.
Tracking the climate is vital for managing optimal growing conditions. Recording temperatures and humidity help us avoid mildew and other vineyard infections. Measuring rain and wind tell us the ideal time to irrigate. And tracking sun exposure helps us predict ripeness.
In addition to supporting the architecture of the vines, trellising also influences the quality of the grapes. Vertical trellising of canes provides a balanced canopy in which shoots, leaves and fruit receive optimum exposure to sun and air flow. This sun exposure and ventilation, two critical factors in facilitating ripeness and resisting disease, are determined by the trellising technique and row orientation, which greatly influences fruit quality.
Beginning with pruning in late winter and continuing through summer, the vines are closely tended – canes are pruned, shoots tied, and grape clusters thinned.
Pruning provides the vines direction to focus the energy solely on producing fruit, so that the grapes come to full maturity, developing ripe brown seeds before harvest. Our goal is to produce fewer shoots and, therefore, fewer but more flavorful and concentrated clusters of grapes.
During the growing season, our Vineyard Manager Gustavo Avina walks every block of every Pine Ridge vineyard once a week. His dedication and intimate knowledge of each vineyard row allows him to quickly identify and respond to challenges and opportunities to improve farming practices and fruit quality.
From spring until harvest, we’re wholly committed to canopy management, and no degree of fine-tuning is too great. As the shoots grow, we painstakingly tuck them between trellising wires, using clips to hold them in place. Ideally spaced, they’ll receive optimum exposure to the sun, ensuring the photosynthesis critical to nourishing the vines and ripening the grapes.
Removing the lateral shoots and leaves from around these clusters of Chardonnay grapes, for example, exposes the fruit to more air flow and morning light. The air movement discourages fungal diseases such as botrytis and powdery mildew; the sunlight intensifies the color and flavor of the berries.
Grapes respond to constant care and attention. All our vines receive ongoing handcare such as having leaves pulled from their fruit zones. This early exposure prepares the grape skin for the long hot summer ahead, resulting significantly more flavorful fruit at harvest and in the bottle.
When grapes reach their pinnacle of ripeness, that crucial balance of flavor and acidity, they are harvested by hand in the cool of the night, then hand-sorted, culled and individually de-stemmed before fermentation.
The harvest and wine making procedures at Pine Ridge are time consuming but absolutely necessary in order to craft world-class premium wines:
Night Harvesting by hand ensures that our grapes (and our grape pickers) don’t suffer the ill affects of daytime harvest heat.
Crush Proof Transportation, via our small capacity bins, delivers 25 pounds of undamaged grapes.
Cluster Sorting of every bin eliminates matter other than grapes.
Berry Sorting, aka Jack Sorting, a tedious process of inspecting individual berries after destemming, eliminates small bits of leaf and stem that would instill “green” characteristics. Very few Napa Valley wineries employ this tedious, costly and time consuming task.
High Temperature Extended Maceration is a final step to extract seed flavors and tannin.
These painstaking measures – combined with stellar estate vineyards, vineyard managers dedicated to each individual vineyard and sustainable farming practices – ensures that every bottle of Pine Ridge wine showcases the true characteristics of each varietal and respective terroir in which it was grown.
Great wines begin in the vineyard. Ours is a continuing commitment to improve the quality of our grapes and the quality of our wines, responsibly. We respect our environment through the careful use of sustainable farming.
Sustainable agriculture requires a responsible approach to the way we manage our vineyards. In the vineyards, pests and weed control are managed with mechanical and hand cultivation for targeted species, allowing biodiversity to assist in vector control. Sustainable farming practices such as mechanical cultivating aerates the soil and discourages weeds. All this extra effort in the vineyard pays off in the barrel, and in the bottle.
In the Winery
Barrel Aging and Wine Caves
In the cellar, Winemaker Michael Beaulac brings a wealth of experience crafting Bordeaux varietals. He carefully selects oak barrels and ensures that the forest the oak comes from, the way in which it is toasted, and the particular “house style” of the barrel maker best matches each grape variety and vineyard site.
The wines are left to age in these barrels that line the aisles of our wine caves carved from bedrock behind the winery. The constant temperature and humidity in these naturally insulated volcanic caves make them an ideal environment for aging wine.