Our Winemaking Philosophy
Our aim is to make big red wines on the black-fruit side of the ripeness spectrum that nonetheless maintain balance, nuance, and complexity. We want our wines to be approachable in their youth, yet to age beneficially for ten to fifteen years. How best to achieve these goals is something we continue to experiment with in small lot trials.
There is sometimes an unfortunate division between wine enthusiasts seeking the elegant nuances of aged French wines, and those seeking the intense fruit concentration of younger California wines. Our attitude is that each wine growing region has its own unique expression that can be embraced and enjoyed for what it is. In California, we have the ability to achieve a level of ripeness that is simply not possible in France. How to make a wine that celebrates this unique gift of ripeness without sacrificing structure, complexity and balance, is an artistic challenge that continues to be our raison d’etre here at Pride Mountain Vineyards.
As distinct from many wineries, we vinify and age all vineyard lots separately. Many of our individual vineyard blocks are picked in stages throughout harvest in order for each lot to be at optimal ripeness. Our forty vineyard blocks thus translate into more than fifty lots of wine separately aging in the cave. This labor-intensive strategy allows us to blend only complementary lots, possibly sell off de-classified lots if deemed necessary, and make viticultural adjustments to specific vineyard blocks.
Our red wines always go into neutral oak barrels for the first months following alcoholic and malolactic fermentation. This allows the character of each lot to express itself without the influence of oak. The percentage of new French oak is then individually chosen for each lot based on flavor considerations, and is reconsidered at each racking. Our red wines benefit from multiple rackings each year. We do not believe in sterile filtration of our red wines as a means to preventing spoilage.
Blending begins two months prior to each bottling. We believe in some cross-varietal blending for most of our nine red wines which, given the number of lots in the cave, results in an enormous number of blend possibilities to consider. Since the blending of one red wine has implications for most of the others, blending involves a huge amount of time and concentration.
At each step of the winemaking process, from when to harvest, to how hard to press out each lot, to how the blends are put together, we let our senses be our guide. We rethink the strategy every vintage, shun recipes, and refrain from historical bias. This not only fills each wine with unique character, but fills our own lives with renewed vigor and enthusiasm each vintage.