THE VINEYARD:THE 2019 GROWING SEASON:
Once a dairy farm and pastureland, this vineyard has realized its greatest potential as a prime, virgin Pinot Noir vineyard. It was first planted in 2000 to a mix of Dijon clones 116, 667 and 777, all grafted on low-vigor rootstock 101-14. I have been working with this vineyard since 2003 and have always been impressed by the quality of the Pinot Noir it produces. Dairyman sits in the southern alluvial plains of the Russian River Valley near the ocean, a region where cooling fog comes in through the Petaluma Gap in the morning and once again in the evening. Afternoon breezes help to soften the effects of the warm sun. In Dairyman, each vine has been trained up on a vertical shoot position (VSP) trellis, which both limits the growth and opens up the typically congested fruit zone. The combination of low-vigor rootstock and alluvial soil stress control of the vines, while the cool, coastal climate creates a long growing season that brings about small, concentrated and flavorful berries.
Winter was unusually warm and dry until a series of mid-January storms brought much-needed rainfall. Cold, wet conditions lasted through March, delaying the bud break and early grapevine growth. After a brief period of warm weather, cold temperatures returned in mid-May. Summer was sunny and warm, causing bloom and fruit set to occur rapidly and the Pinot Noir crop to size up uniformly. Due to the relatively cool year, the grapes ripened evenly and retained their natural acidity, as well as beautiful flavors and brilliant color. We started harvesting the Pinot Noir crop in mid-September and completed harvest on the third week of October.
We harvested early in the morning so the fruit would arrive at the winery while the grapes were still cool to preserve the vineyard-fresh flavors. After destemming (but not crushing) the berries, we cold-soaked the fruit for up to two weeks to soften the skins and allow for ideal extraction. During fermentation in a combination of closed and open-top stainless steel fermenters, we used both punch-downs and pump-overs to extract color and tannins, and also to control temperatures and maximize flavors. We aged the wine in 100% French oak (60% new) for up to nine months. After the wine underwent malolactic fermentation, we racked it twice before making the final blend.
2019 DAIRYMAN PINOT NOIR:
Dark plum in color with abundant aromas of dark chocolate, black cherry, and sun-ripened blackberry with hints of black currant and cedar. There are layered flavors of blackberry and raspberry pie filling on the palate, accompanied by notes of cinnamon, chocolate, and nutmeg. This wine is smooth and focused with refined tannins and a medium finish.