Many years ago, at a time when domestic rosé wines were sweet and didn't pair well with foods, we traveled to southern France and discovered dry Provencal rosé. We were in a supermarché and were surprised that the rosé section of the wine department was much bigger than either the red or white wine sections. Out of curiosity we purchased a bottle not knowing what to expect. We opened the wine for lunch; it was dry, delicious and resembled a white wine, only rounder with more body and flavor. Provence produces twice as much wine as California and two-thirds of their production consists of dry rosé wines. How could we have missed these jewels? There are three major ways to produce rosé wine: by blending in a red wine (permitted in Champagne), by saignée (or bleeding off some juice, a method used in Burgundy primarily to produce more robust reds) and by skin contact (or allowing destemmed red grapes to macerate in the juice, a method used in Provence and in the production of most top-tier rosés). At Navarro, after destemming Pinot Noir into a tank, we take juice samples from the macerating grape-must every half hour and retain the samples, side-by-side, to compare them. We taste for increased body and flavor, which we want, versus undesirable astringency which we avoid by immediately draining and pressing once the desired body and flavors are attained.
The Pinot Noir grapes grown in Navarro's Chalone block of our Hammer Olsen vineyard yields the base wine for Navarro's rosé. After we prune, Edgar paints the fresh pruning wounds to protect them from Eutypa dieback, a wood-infecting fungi that kills part—and eventually can kill all—of an infected vine.
During harvest, hungry bears frequent our hillside vineyards. Not only do bears prefer Pinot, but it seems that turkeys do too. Perhaps it's the darkly colored berries or the sweetness with only modest acidity as compared to the higher acidity in Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.
This vintage the desired result was achieved with an average cold-soak time of two and a half hours before lightly pressing. The wine displays flavors of ripe strawberry and guava with a snappy, crisp finish. Platinum Medal winner.
Nighttime harvest of Pinot Noir for rosé production. Members of Navarro's picking crew wear shoulder harnesses with a clip for attaching a bucket, allowing the worker to have both hands free for speedy picking. In 2017 the crew set a new Navarro record: twenty pickers hand-harvested over twenty-four tons in a single evening, about 1,000 clusters per hour per person.