This Merlot is grown at Winesap Vineyards, which is located in The Rocks District AVA. Merlot down in the Rocks has tremendous potential. Just the right amount of heat to ripen properly, which a touch of earthiness and minerailty.
Winesap Vineyard with grass cover crop
We harvested our lot of fruit on 10/15. This is when the chemistry looked the best and also had physiological ripeness at its peak. With the extremely high pH of merlot from The Rocks I wanted to allow this fruit to get a little more ripe with more potential ending ABV (Learn more from our Winemaking Videos).
Brix 25 - pH 3.95 - TA 4.5 g/L
After the fruit was harvested, it was de-stemmed (but not crushed). It went on to cold soak for 24 hours before inoculation of BM 45 yeast strain. The cap was punched down 3 times per day to break up skins and to gain maximum extraction.
The fruit for this cabernet was sourced from Seven Hills and McClellan vineyards. Both these spots are ideal for Cabernet, but since they are on opposite sides of the Walla Walla Valley, they produce two totally different styles of Cabernet.
With such different growing conditions from these two vineyards, our harvest dates were quite different.
McClellan - 10/12
Brix 24.2 - pH 3.53 - TA 5.2 g/L
Cockburn - 10/23
Brix 24.6 - pH 3.51 - TA 5.17 g/L
Both these lots of Cabernets were fully destemmed into small 2 ton fermenters. They were inoculated with BM 45 yeast and the caps were punched down three times per day. The fermentation was long and slow and the wine was pressed when the tannin structure was ideal. The wine was then put into barrels, which included 25% new French oak.