Vincent makes natural wines from vineyards around the northern Willamette Valley farmed at minimum sustainably, if not organic or biodynamic. What is natural? For us that means working with a most basic intent in the winemaking – to be very gentle in the cellar, to move the juice or wine minimally and gently, to allow the wine to become itself without much input from the winemaker (truly, not just marketing talk).
We essentially make two types of wines – white and red. White are naturally fermented in barrels, red in open top fermenters. Throughout the process, the wine is left largely to itself.
White grapes are typically pressed whole cluster, settled as juice for two days and racked into older French oak barrels. Fermentation happens naturally, usually taking many months. The slow primary and secondary (malolactic) fermentations keep the liquid fairly saturated with CO2, which preserves freshness. There is no batonnage, or stirring of the lees. The barrels are simply kept topped and otherwise not touched for either one year or eighteen months, depending on the when that barrel is bottled.
Red grapes are carefully sorted and typically, but not always, destemmed into small, 1.5 ton fermenters. The next day, each fermenter bin gets 10 minutes of pumping over, to mix and aerate the juice before fermentation begins. Any whole cluster lots get pigeage, or foot treading, at this time to mix and minimize any large air pockets in the fermenter. Fermenter bins are then left alone for as many days as necessary until natural fermentation is well underway, usually six to 12 days just waiting for fermentation. Only when enough CO2 is coming off the fermenter in earnest do we do the first punch down, where you plunge the grape matter at the top layer of the fermenter back into the juice. We do one punch down each day for the next few days, as fermentation peaks, then gently wet the cap each day after just to keep things fresh. Depending on how fermentation progresses, we drain and press 18-24 days after harvesting. The new wines are settled separately, free run apart from the press wine, and put into French oak barrels after two or three days of settling. We don’t use new oak but some barrels can be two or three years old. Many barrels are five to 10 years old and older.
Willamette Valley level wines are typically in barrel for one year, single vineyard Pinot Noirs and and “Tardive” designated wines are 16-18 months in barrel, only moved out of barrel for blending and bottling without filtration. Juice as well as finished wine can see sulfur dioxide, but only in small amounts to keep freshness.
Our simple winemaking process is the result of good advice we’ve received over the years from seasoned winemakers the world over, many who make wines among the world’s best. We’ve found time and again from the greats of the world of wine that the less you do in the cellar the better. The result are wines that transits the flavors and sense of place in every wine each vintage.
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