We make our wines simply and naturally.
Freshly harvested grapes include everything needed to make wine. The sugars, acids, tannins and thousands of flavour compounds are all there in the berry. Even the yeast cells needed to ferment the juice are on the outside of the skin, ready to get to work once the grapes are crushed.
The way the vines are managed will affect the balance between these elements, but the course of the season, the patterns of heat and cold and rain will have an even stronger influence. Every year gives us its own character.
In the winery, we try to avoid having to add anything, or take anything away. However there are still many ways in which the transformation of fruit into wine can be guided by the winemaker.
The most important decision is choosing the exact moment to pick the fruit. We will pick when the sugars, acids and flavours are best balanced. Too early, and the wine may be too acidic, lacking in flavour, showing unripe or 'green' characters, or with immature tannins. Too late, and the wine may be flabby, heavy and over alcoholic. Biodynamic theory tells us that certain days are better than others, based on the position of the moon. The right moment is fleeting.
Once in the winery, it might seem that the basic operations of crushing, pressing, plunging and so on are much the same every year, but there are countless small variations, mostly in timing, that exert a profound effect on the character of the wine. How often to plunge the skins, whether or not to cool the fermentation, when to press the wine, how long to leave it on lees, when to put it in barrels, what sort of barrels and how old.... the list goes on. Through these variables, the winemaker can guide the wine to the chosen style, with no need to put anything extra in, or take anything out. This leaves intact the expression of place and season that is the essence of a fine wine.
One addition that we usually do make, however, is a small amount of sulphur prior to bottling. This traditional addition helps protect the wine over the many years that it might spend in the bottle, as it slowly develops its full potential.
We keep the sulphur to a minimum (much less than in most commercial wines) and for some wines, we leave the sulphur out entirely. These wines are fine for a while, but best to drink them sooner rather than later!