The Art of the Grape: Winemaking from The Ground to The Glass
The wine we create evolves from the grapes we grow. Our small-lot wines come directly from our North Okanogan grown vines. The soils are composed of leftover deposits from the last Ice Age, which is where the crafting begins.
The season begins as water from the snowmelt of the Eastern Cascade Mountains flows to the roots through remarkably sandy soil. As the season progresses, the vines develop and the grapes flourish due to the unique balance of hot days and refreshingly cool nights. Surprisingly, the range of grape varieties that thrive here is significant. Whites from Riesling to Viognier thrive. Reds range from Pinot Noir and Lemberger right on through to the newest plantings of Sangiovese. There is a micro-niche for each.
When the sugars, the acids, the skins, and the seeds all reach critical points, harvest begins at Esther Bricques by selectively hand-picking into 25-30 pound lugs. Thus, that unique point of ripeness is the starting point for the myriad of wine flavors-to-be. Through our small lot production, we are able to sort the fruit as we pick, allowing us to ferment only the best of what our vineyards have to offer.
Once the grapes are harvested, the grapes gently leave their stems behind and become juice, if they are white, or must, if they are red. White juice cold settles and ferments in small stainless tanks with very limited interference. Red berries ferment slowly, with multiple punchdowns each day until the fermentation is complete.
Of course, if their destiny is ice wine, the grapes continue to sit out in the elements until it is 15 degrees Fahrenheit out there! Covered by netting for months to protect them from the birds, fruit is picked and pressed in the cold, resulting in a syrup that takes months to ferment. The resulting nectar is a remarkable product.
The Ferment… comes from the union of yeast and grape, the feeding frenzy of the yeast on the grapes’ generous supply of sugar, resulting in the generation of heat, carbon dioxide and alcohol, all in small lots …But something else happens as the fruit and juices release flavors not present earlier, happening gradually, coolly, with the help of gravity… …leading, in time, to the marriage of the rather remarkable flavors you meet when you drink our wine.