Once a dairy farm and pastureland, this vineyard has realized its greatest potential as a prime, virgin Pinot Noir vineyard. It was first planted in 2000 to a mix of Dijon clones 115, 667, and 777, all grafted on low-vigor rootstock 101-14. We have been working with this vineyard since 2003 and have always been impressed by the quality of the Pinot Noir it produces. Dairyman sits in the southern alluvial plains of the Russian River Valley near the ocean, a region where cooling fog comes in through the Petaluma Gap in the morning and once again in the evening. Afternoon breezes help to soften the effects of the warm sun. In Dairyman, each vine has been trained up on a vertical shoot position (VSP) trellis, which both limits the growth and opens up the typically congested fruit zone. The combination of low-vigor rootstock and alluvial soil stress the vines, while the cool, coastal climate creates a long growing season that brings about small, concentrated, and flavorful berries.
THE 2018 GROWING SEASON
After a dry winter, Spring brought much needed rainfall, this delayed the growing season in the Russian River Valley vineyards. Warm temperatures returned in May and grapevine growth was both rapid and healthy, the conditions for bloom were optimal, and the resulting fruit set was even. Due to the relatively cool year, the grapes matured evenly and retained much of their natural acidity, only to be complimented by spectacular color and flavor development. We harvested the entire vineyard during the first week of October and the fruit had good structure, layers of flavors and brilliant color.
We harvested early in the morning so the fruit would arrive at the winery while the grapes were still cool to preserve the vineyard-fresh flavors. After destemming (but not crushing) the berries, we cold-soaked the fruit for up to two weeks to soften the skins and allow for ideal extraction. During fermentation in a combination of closed and open-top stainless steel fermenters, we used both punch-downs and pump-overs to extract color and tannins, and also to control temperatures and maximize flavors. We aged the wine in 100% French oak (60% new) for up to nine months. After the wine underwent malolactic fermentation, we racked it twice before making the final blend.
Deep garnet in color with pleasing aromas of sun-warmed blueberry, blackberry pie, and black cherry with hints of forest floor and cedar. There is an earthy cola tone on the palate with very effusive dark berry flavor layered with a touch of vanilla. Dynamic and focused this wine has refined tannins and a long-lasting finish.
SOIL: Wright loam
CLIMATE: Cool fog, sunny
GROWING SEASON: (bloom to harvest) May 31–Oct.3, 2018
AVERAGE HIGH TEMP: 77.6°F
ELEVATION: 75-85 ft