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Prior to vintage, the Partners will prioritize among a dozen possible projects based on our resources and the desires of the members. Then contracts need to be written with growers and crush facilities. Vinification Protocols are agreed upon and supplies ordered. Then the vineyard inspection cycle begins, culminating in maturity determination.
Once harvest date is determined, usually just a few days in advance, picking crews are assembled. Partners are always welcome to observe and oversee harvest, and in some cases are welcome to pitch in if they desire.
We will crush at a variety of facilities, depending on proximity, suitability and price. Partners are always welcome to attend and may be put to work on the smaller lots, hand-dumping grapes and running a basket press. In some cases, our wine will be part of a larger lot Clark oversees, and may be mechanically harvested and processed with larger equipment by union crews.
Whites are crushed and pressed the same day, then fermented over a few weeks under intensive attention. Reds are pressed days or weeks after crush. Partners can arrange with Clark to visit these vinifications and participate in the decision process.
Soon after fermentations are complete, Partners will meet and evaluate results. Partners who cannot attend these meetings will be shipped samples so they can participate through teleconference.
Post fermentation cellaring proceeds for long periods. For fresh whites, bottling can occur the following Spring. Reds are always cellared for a year, and WineSmith wines are famous for their long aging, so some projects won’t be bottled for several years. These wines are generally preconditioned for ageing with early blending, carefully administered enological oxygen treatments, and oak choices.
Partners are invited to schedule with Clark to visit the cellars containing their wines. As bottling approaches, wines receive intensive blending fine-tuning and finishing for which Partners’ inputs are particularly valuable.
Bottling is a lot of work and a lot of fun. Sometimes we are siphoning from a single barrel and hand-bottling and corking in the manner of a homemade wine. Other times our lot is large enough that a professional bottling line is employed. While this may be a mobile line, most of the time we use the fine operation at Owl Ridge Wine Services in north Sebastopol. Partners are welcome to attend, grab samples and join us for post-bottling celebration.