During the ripening period for Navarro's Gewürztraminer grapes in the summer of 2018, Anderson Valley enjoyed typical summer weather with daytime highs in the 70s and 80s, with scarcely a scorcher. This mild summer weather is ideal for the variety's floral and spicy aromatics which can be muted by excessive heat. By mid-September the grapes seemed fully ripe but the "specs" suggested that they weren't quite ready, contradicting what our eyes and taste buds told us.
Some lots of our Gewürztraminer grapes are destemmed into a refrigerated tank to let the skins macerate in the juice for a few hours in order to extract aromatics and flavor. We pump out the juice but this leaves between two and three feet of semi-dry skins. Alfredo, inside the stainless steel tank, is doing the hard work of shoveling the skins out the lower manhole into bins for pressing.
Harvesting Gewürztraminer at night when the grapes are cold. When grapes are destemmed cold, the juice extracts less harsh skin phenolics than if harvested warm. A low temperature is especially critical for skin-contacted grapes.
With a heat wave forecasted, we decided to rely on our senses rather than the numbers. The vineyard crew sprang into action, night-harvesting all eight of our favorite Gewürz fields over a three-day period and ultimately beating the heat by one day. As soon as the winery team destemmed and pressed the first night's picking, the vintage's exuberant aromatics confirmed our harvest decision: scents of rose-petal and lychee enveloped the presses. Since our house is just steps from the crush pad, we could even delight in the fermenting aromas on our porch. After settling the juice for three days to precipitate any grape solids, the clarified juice from each vineyard block was racked to French oak ovals to cold-ferment for about a month, then age on the yeast for another six months. In April 2019, after a series of 10 staff tastings, a cuvée was selected from nine separate lots, then blended and bottled in May. Navarro's favorite squeeze: lychee, kumquat and jasmine fragrances with a round and amazingly dry finish. Double Gold Medal winner. Best of Show. 97 points.