As you enter our Tasting Room you can’t miss the big window that is positioned between the connected buildings-this was one of the last additions to the winery and was completed in 1986 as our production was increasing and there was a need for more barrel space. It is a portal into the inner workings of our winery even though it seems as if nothing is happening, especially if you are stopping by on weekends. There is more going on during the week when the cellar crew is here. At times it looks like a bunch of barrels stacked neatly—in reality six high with a total of two thousand of them aging away to be exact.
The crew spends December through March emptying barrels of the previous vintage and filling with the new. This is a part of a wine’s journey where it seems like there isn’t anything going on but we, with inside information, know there is. The process itself is oxidation but a very slow oxidation because the barrel room is kept cool and humid. The barrel itself isn’t airtight and allows a minute amount of oxygen in to soften the wine, making it supple over time. We keep the barrel room adjusted with a humidifier because the lack of humidity, especially here in California, will make the wine oxidize too quickly leaving a chance of spoilage. Each barrel is taken down three times during the course of aging to replace the wine lost to oxidation thereby preventing any possible spoilage. The actual time spent in wood not only slowly ages the wine it also steeps in the oak, imparting the element of toasted wood, cedar and smoky aromas detected in barrel aged wines. This adds another level of complexity and plays an important role in bouquet and taste of the finished product. Our winemaking style calls for 25% new oak blended with seasoned barrels. This helps us keep a balance between the fruit and the oak components for a ‘just right’ taste in your glass of red wine. A toast (pun intended) to the barrels with some Zin in your glass.