The 2018 growing season started with significantly higher than average frost hours (a measurement of hours below 36 F), which led to a late bud break. The growing season also stood out in terms of GDD (growing degree days), with 14% fewer on average than 2017. The mild conditions and lack of extreme heat spikes combined to create a high quality fruit year.
Our steep, densely planted Stags Leap District estate has been the heart of the winery since Pine Ridge Vineyards was founded here in a farmhouse in 1978. This wine is a pure and exquisite expression of the world-famous Stags Leap District AVA.
The grapes were hand-harvested at night—when temperatures often dip to 50˚F—to capture vibrant acidity and fruit expression in the wine. We first cold-soaked the must (crushed grapes) for gentle extraction and then fermented the must in both stainless steel and Italian-made concrete fermenters at 92˚F. Rigorous pump-overs, increasing during the peak of the fermentation, developed deep color, rich varietal character and fine tannins in the wine. To achieve a fresh style with lighter, supple tannins, our cellar team pressed this wine slightly earlier than for our other Cabernet Sauvignons. The wine was aged in new French oak barrels to meld the bright fruit expression with oak spice nuances. After three months of aging, we blended the vineyard components then allow them to marry during the remainder of the 26 months of barrel-aging. To retain the wine’s full flavor complexity, the wine was bottled without fining or filtration.