The Alexander Valley vineyards, which are naturally low yielding and late ripening, produced intense, fully mature fruit. The Ash Creek Vineyard, at an altitude of 2,300 feet, is the highest-elevated vineyard in Sonoma County. The name Ash Creek is derived from the vineyard's thin, volcanic, ash-like soil. The combination of high-altitude climate, cool days, warm nights, a shorter growing season and infertile soils result in low yields of intensely concentrated fruit which show signature herbal, cedar and mint notes.
Sunny Slope Vineyard, in Sonoma Valley, produces the deeply colored, intensely flavored and well-structured fruit that is the hallmark of this rocky hillside site. A virtual rock quarry, Sunny Slope was cultivated over twenty years ago by planting its vines in holes which had been drilled or pick-axed out of fractured stone. The deep roots, a result of the vines' maturity and years of laboring for water, combine with the warm southwest exposure to produce thick-skinned grapes of concentrated flavor, inky color and extracted tannins that distinguish wines from this great vineyard. Judicious irrigation when necessary and meticulous tannin management preserves the vineyard character while imparting a richness and soft texture in the wine.
A variety of techniques maximize the distinct character of each lot. All lots are cold-soaked, some for as little as one day and others for as many as five days. A selection of yeasts is used, and the wine is fermented in small lots in open top fermenters and punched down daily by hand. All of the lots undergo malolactic fermentation and all are aged in new, one-year and older French oak barrels. Fermentation and maceration times are extended to achieve maximum extraction and time from pressing to barrel reduced in order to complete the malolactic fermentation in barrel. This is done to improve the texture and mouthfeel as well as to integrate the flavors. Bottled unfiltered, this is a big wine with intense ripe berry aromas and rich in the mouth with a texture that is enhanced by creamy fruit and chalky tannins.