The growing season of 2017 began with abundant rainfall. Spring was mild, resulting in extended flowering. Three heat events, including one over Labor Day weekend, kicked harvest into high gear. While October wildfires in North Coast wine communities made international headlines, the state’s vineyards and wineries were not significantly affected. Harvest began early and at a normal pace in the Carneros AVA, then progressed rapidly during a heatwave in late August through early September, helping to raise the sugars needed for the 2017 Judd’s Hill Pinot.

The Reinke Vineyard lies in Napa Valley’s Carneros District, one of the finest winegrowing regions in the world for the thin-skinned Pinot Noir grapes. The cooling breezes off the San Pablo Bay allow the grapes a longer hang time in which to develop flavor and intensity, without sacrificing acidity and true balance.

The majority of the fruit was destemmed and cold-soaked for 4 days before fermenting in an open-top stainless-steel tank using cultivated Burgundy yeast strains. The remaining was held back to do two smaller fermentations with 50% whole clusters to allow for more depth of flavor. It was then allowed to ferment naturally using the native yeast found “wild” in the winery. Each of the fermentations received twice daily pump-overs or punch downs for color and tannin extraction and fermented to dryness before being pressed. The different fermentations were then racked into mostly neutral oak to age separately for 9 months before blending a total of 15% whole cluster into the final blend prior to bottling.

The up-front fruit in Judd’s Hill Pinot Noir for the 2017 vintage has aromas of cherry, raspberry, and strawberry with a hint of toast characteristics. Flavors of spice with a long finish and low levels of tannin make this one of the easiest wines to drink. Go big and spicy with Pinot Noir- Latin, Asian, and Indian food will complement the bright fruit of this glorious grape. Blackened Salmon served with a side of grilled broccoli rabe zested with lemon is a match made in pairing heaven.