Winemaking: Anthony Austin, Winemaker. Hand harvested in the early morning to bring in cool fruit. The grapes have been ripened without excessive dehydration which yields lower sugars. On arrival at the winery the grapes are mixed by percentage, whole clusters mixed with de-stemmed grapes and placed in one ton fermentation tanks without crushing.
The grapes are immediately chilled to 48-50 degrees F. for the cold soak. “Punch down” is done by hand twice daily. In approximately 8-10 days spontaneous fermentation (wild yeast) has begun. Each tank is inoculated with Assmanhausen and Williams-Seylem yeasts after the start of the wild yeast fermentation. The wild fermentation adds a complexity and nuance of the yeast extractives, as well as moderates the fermentation rate. The pure strain is a slow steady fermentation rate with the ability to finish to dryness. During the alcoholic fermentation the cap is hand punched down 2-3 times daily.
The pressing occurs at about 2-3 Brix. The new wine is then put directly into a mix of 50% new French Oak (Tonnellerie Sirugue) and 50% once used French Oak (Tonnellerie Sirugue). In these barrels the wine undergoes a malolactic fermentation in the presence of the yeast which is stirred every 2 weeks. This process is very important in that it not only helps the M-L bacteria grow; it is the best “fining” agent removing harsh tannins and colloids. As with all Clouds Rest Pinot Noir, the very minimum of manipulation to achieve refinement is utilized. Racking is by inert gas pressure, not pumps; fining, if used, is only fresh egg whites and filtration is only into the bottle. Each wine is racked ideally only once prior to the final bottle racking.
Viticulture practices: No machinery “by hand only” vineyard. On steep hillsides the different clones were planted to ripen in concert. 10,000 plus vines on 1.75ac., 36”x36” spacing in rocky, volcanic soil, warm days and cooler nights, daily breezes from the west at 1250’ elevation, high above where the Clouds Rest at night.
2005 Climate conditions mirror in many ways that of the ‘03 vintage. The primary difference being a very consistent cool harvest. There were no heat spikes, no hot winds, and as a result a very long hang time. Crops were generally of average yield, which is to say very small on the Sonoma Coast.