Unlike many other high-end wine producers who veer toward a low-acid, high pH wine style that sacrifices beauty and longevity for more instant gratification, we believe in balance.
One important element of balance is carefully watching yields in our estate vineyard. We are careful about making sure that our crop load is thought of in terms of balance between sugar and phenolic ripeness. In the warm climates of California, such as the Livermore Valley, where Bordeaux varieties thrive, grapes generally acquire sugar ripeness faster than seed and skin ripeness. We are experimenting with trellis modification, deficit irrigation, and slightly higher crop loads to “extend” the growing season, allowing for various ripening curves to sync and making wines that are ripe at lower alcohol levels.
After our fruit is hand-harvested, it is hand-sorted, destemmed and crushed into small open-top fermenters. In some of the 1.7-ton boxes, we add specific strains of yeast that have historically performed well on BDX (Bordeaux) varieties, and in others we will not inoculate. Each block of fruit is vinified separately so that we know each year which clones from which varieties exhibit the highest possible quality. Only these parts will make up the Lineage | Livermore Valley whole.
Throughout primary fermentation, the winemaking team tastes each day from each bin so that when the decision is ultimately made to press off, we have lived with that wine for many weeks and have tasted how it has progressed and how it may change in the future. This experiential continuum is crucial in helping to inform one of the more crucial decision points in the winemaking process.
After pressing, the wines are put into French oak where they rest for about a year until the final blend is decided upon. At that point, the individual barrels are racked then rebarrelled for another 6-8 months. All told, Lineage | Livermore Valley will see 18-22 months in about 50% new French oak and about a year in bottle before release.