We produced our first dry Pinot Noir rosé in 1991, a cuvée that included 10% Chardonnay. We enjoyed the wine at home, but it proved difficult to sell as most pink wines in the '90s were sweet. We abandoned Pinot Noir rosé production until 2009 when, to our astonishment, the wine produced was a quick sell-out. We decided to increase production for the following 2010 vintage when we discovered that the grapes from Block C in our Hammer Olsen vineyard produced excellent Pinot rosé – it remains the base wine in all subsequent vintages. Demand for dry rosé wine continued to grow, so with each vintage we continued to experiment with producing rosé wines from our other thirty-two blocks of Pinot Noir to ascertain which could produce the best wine.
Compost being dumped into a tractor-driven spreader. We fertilize our vines with about 200 tons of compost each year. We produce most of the compost on the ranch; at the end of the harvest, we mix our grape pomace (stems, skins and seeds) with dried cow manure from an organic dairy on the coast, then let it compost for a couple of years under tarps.
Preparing rosé blends in the lab. We keep each vineyard lot as a separate wine until we are ready to blend. Jim precisely measures different quantities of each selection when preparing sample wines for Navarro's blending trials. Once we identify the best blend, we know the exact percentage of each lot to calculate how many gallons of each selection is required for bottling.
In 2015 we found that grapes from Block 1 in our Boonville vineyard, a slightly warmer site, produced a wine hinting of cherry which married well with the strawberry-like fruit from Block C – this remains a component in the 2016 and 2017 bottlings. This vintage we were pleased that the wine produced from FPS clone 4 in the Lower Garden Spot had a broader mouthfeel and a fruity aroma profile, rather than the floral, rose-like aromatics of the fruit from Block C; both complemented the blend. The grapes from each field were destemmed and the juice macerated with the skins. The maceration time was dependent on the field; the grapes from Block 1 required less time to add color and a rounded mouthfeel than the grapes from the two cooler Philo fields. The result is a wine with rose-like aromatics and flavors suggesting red currants and strawberry-guava. Gold medal winner.