Our goal is to produce hand-crafted, small-lot, single-vineyard wines, with a focus on Cabernet Sauvignon, that consistently embody the distinctive and complex character of Cali's cool climate mountain sites.
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Eric’s roots in the industry date back to 1982 when he and his father Chris planted his family’s former estate vineyard in the Anderson Valley. He remained actively involved at Demuth Vineyard through the construction of the winery, and finally the production of their first estate wines. Now, some 30 years later, Eric concentrates on small-lot, single vineyard production of some of the most sought after grapes in Sonoma County.
Practices & Techniques
Our bonded winery is a small 800 square foot building located on the Martinelli Family’s “Moonshine Ranch” in the Russian River Valley. This name originates from the Prohibition Era, when the ranch was used, among other things, as a launching point for barrels of “Moonshine” liquor. These barrels were floated down Mark West Creek, which runs through the property and spills into the Russian River, as a means of smuggling them out of the area. We now utilize this same proximity to the Mark West Creek riparian zone as a natural cooler and humidifier for our winery. This works in conjunction with our minimalist approach to making wine in general, relying more on the quality of fruit and less on technology and modern machinery for our wines to achieve their potential. We directly undertake every step in the production of our wines.
In the vineyards, our very small production levels allow us to work our dedicated rows to a degree of detail otherwise impossible. In the weeks leading up to harvest we will physically handle nearly every single cluster of grapes which are ultimately harvested. We will taste grapes from almost every vine, looking for the odd clusters that lack proper development, damaged clusters, signs of mold or anything else that could adversely affect flavors. This painstaking selection process leaves very little sorting to be done at harvest, and ensures optimal fruit quality.
The vinification process for the red wines is done in a consistent manner: The majority of the fruit is crushed and destemmed, however, we retain a variable smaller portion of grapes that are incorporated into the must as whole clusters. This must is gravity fed into small open topped T-bins where the fermentations take place without the inoculation of yeast. These multiple small fermentations on native yeasts are all unique, which in turn enhances the complexity and dynamism of the finished product. The must is minimally manipulated by hand during the fermentation, and is allowed a variable maceration period upon fermenting dry. Subsequently it is pressed into French oak barrels that will typically average 50-70% ‘new’ oak. Our Cabernets will remain in barrel 22-23 months, during which time they are minimally gravity racked.This slow and labor-intensive process enhances the variable character of the wines. While they are stylistically similar, no two wines or vintages will ever be the same. This makes for a more interesting and ultimately enjoyable glass of wine, and encourages bottle ageing and tasting the wines over time as they develop.