The grape harvest was early in 2013, almost 3 weeks earlier than 2012. We harvest Riesling from three vineyard blocks and three Riesling clones are involved: ENTAV 49 is perhaps the most widely planted clone in Alsace, Neustadt 90 is a very aromatic clone from Germany and FPMS10 is a UC Davis selection from a California vineyard. We harvested the grapes, keeping each field and block separate throughout the winemaking process. The grapes were destemmed, pressed and the juice transferred to chilled stainless steel tanks. After three days, the clear, cold juice was racked off the solids and transferred to French oak ovals. It takes a couple days for the juice to warm up to an optimal fermentation temperature, so we wait before adding yeast. The delay between pressing the grapes and the addition of cultured yeast is typically four or five days; frequently the juice is already bubbling from an active fermentation created by wild yeasts from our generously composted fields.
Jim Klein installing a "fermentation trap" on an oval during fermentation, which allows carbon dioxide to escape, and keeps fruit flies out. Since some of the ovals are large, with capacities up to 1,500 gallons, the traps must also be large to accommodate the amount of gas being generated.
Spreading warm compost in Navarro's Campsite Riesling. All of Navarro's harvest waste (grape skins, seeds, stems and spent yeast) is combined with farm animal manure, composted for two years, then returned to the vineyards to fertilize the vines. After decades of this regime, we're so pleased with the flora that thrive in our vineyards we don't attempt to knock off these wild yeasts by adding sulfur dioxide to the harvested grapes.
Fermentation takes a painstaking month, but rather than using the standard New World winemaking protocol of racking the wine off the yeast, we emulate traditional European winemaking and top-up the cask, leaving the wine to rest sur lie for nine months. In the spring of 2014, we selected a cuvée dominated by the fragrant Neustadt 90 clone. Crystalline flavors of apple, lime and peach with a tang that bounces on your tongue. Gold Medal winner.