Grapes are slightly crushed and turned over twice daily to extract soft tannins from the skins. After about 10 days, the free run wine is removed and the remaining skins are pressed to recover the “press fraction.” The press fraction and free run juice are aged separately. Prior to bottling they are blended back for optimum fruit and tannins. Barrel aging for12 months produces wine with a smokey, earthy aroma and noticeable fruit flavor.
Harvested during the first week of October, this grape benefits from the dryer and cooler environment of the Shenandoah Valley, allowing for slower ripening to concentrate varietal flavors. Fermentation usually takes 10-12 days, at which time fermented must (skins) is pressed off and the resulting wine is stored for at least 30 days to allow natural settling of suspended solids. The wine is then barrel aged for 14-15 months in American, French, and Hungarian oak to develop additional complexity.