We've been growing Pinot Noir grapes in Philo and making wine from these vineyards since 1978. Had someone told us forty years ago that we would still be experimenting on how to vinify estate Pinot Noir in 2017, we would have been dumbfounded. We frequently compare winemaking to cooking, which is a fair analogy if you're comparing cleanup to prep time. Winemaking however is focused almost entirely on a single ingredient; how the grapes are grown and processed becomes the ultimate variable. Weather has a noticeable effect on the fruit our vines produce, so each year many of Navarro's winemaking regimes are adjusted to nudge the outcome yet still capture the essence of the vineyard and the vintage. For example, we've learned that pumping over and saignée (removing some free-run juice to make a heavier wine) manipulate Pinot Noir too much, so we now avoid these practices. Other regimes, like fermentation temperatures and frequency of punch-downs, are frequently tested and modified to suit the vintage.
Morning Fog in Navarro's Marking Corral Pinot Noir. Philo's temperate climate is due to daily ocean breezes. Fog rolls in nightly and its chill aids in retaining the grapes' natural acidity.
Pinot being made with the “ancient method.” We discovered early on that Pinot Noir wine tastes and smells less manipulated if the fermenting must is punched down by hand rather than using modern pumps; this keeps the juice in contact with the skins. Since we ferment about two hundred bins of Pinot Noir each vintage, Navarro's interns, like Dan, stay in shape.
Some decisions however are made before harvest and can't be changed; Navarro's barrels come from France and we order a specific number based upon a normal Pinot harvest. In 2015, our vines set a light crop with small berry size, consequently a higher percentage of the wine was aged in new barrels; almost 40% of the blend went into new oak rather than our typical 30%. Big and concentrated with flavors of dark plum and cherry with a touch of toffee and leather; great with fresh or smoked salmon. Gold Medal winner.