Harvest is a bustling time of year in and around the winery, however in the months preceding I begin the careful process of hand selecting the very best fruit while it’s still on the vine. It is necessary for our vineyard crews to understand our high standards, and “drop” any berry clusters that are less desirable. Dropping fruit is a measure we take in both of our estate vineyards to ensure that only the best fruit is harvested.
(Left: No grape cluster is perfect. Right: Fruit clusters that do not meet our standards are cut off and dropped.)
(The diagram above corresponds with the following discussion points.)
A: Once the berries have been hand harvested and brought to the winery, they are gravity fed into a hopper.
B: Harvest workers examine each berry cluster on a sorting table, eliminating any clusters that are undesirable.
C: The clusters that make the grade travel up a conveyor belt and are gently gravity fed into destemming equipment.
D: Following the de-stemmer, the berries are optically sorted.
Cuvaison Estate Wines was one of the first, if not the first winery in the United States to employ the use of a Pellenc Optical Sorter. We use this highly tuned French technology for both Cuvaison Pinot Noir and Brandlin Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.
The optical sorter scans individual berries at a rate of 1000 berries per second, and rejects those that do not meet our stringent criteria. With its high accuracy, we have peace of mind knowing that only the finest fruit will make it into our wines.
The image above shows a comparison between berries that the optical sorter rejected (at left) and the berries that the optical sorter identified as keepers (at right).
Once the berries are optically sorted, they are pressed. Many wineries transfer the freshly pressed juice via a hose, however we believe this fresh and delicate product must be handled more gently. Therefore we gravity feed into stainless steel open top fermenters.
2012 Cuvaison Estate Chardonnay
Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
2012 Kite Tail Chardonnay
Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide
"From an organically-farmed hillside vineyard planted to the Old Wente clone,
"Lush and juicy with spice, toasty oak,vanilla and ripe pear fruit; rich and dense."
In light of Club Cuvaison's summer promotion, Hot Diggity Dog! we would like to introduce you to the dogs of Cuvaison Estate Wines. We love your four legged friends as much as we love ours, and therefore both our Calistoga and Carneros tasting rooms are dog friendly! We just ask that you keep Fido on a leash.
|Pixie (left), age 10, favorite activity: snacking.
Buster (right), age 2, favorite activity: chasing wild turkeys in the vineyard.
Dogs' Owner: Steven Rogstad, Winemaker
|Jasmine, age 6, favorite activity: swimming in the pool.
Dog's Owner: Bonnie Schoch, CFO
|Rosalina, age 10, favorite activity: taking walks in the park.
Dog's Owner: Alvaro Bautista, Cellarhand
Bodhi (left), age 6, favorite activity: chasing and catching the Frisbee at the park and running through the Cuvaison vineyard off leash.
Indigo, age 8 months, favorite activity: playing
|Gunner, age 5, favorite activity: chasing the Frisbee.
Dog's Owner: Selma Woolfe, Club Cuvaison Coordinator
Rudy, age 3, favorite activity: sleeping, playing at the beach, running thru the vineyard.
|Kao, age 3, favorite activity: playing tug-of-war and cuddling.
Dog's Owner: Wynne Vick, Club Cuvaison Sales Coordinator
|Scooby, age 5, favorite activity: fetching the tennis ball and going on walks on Brandlin.
Dog's Owner: Ray Lamon, Landscape and Maintenance
|River, age 3, favorite activity: running around in the grass and playing chase.
Dog's parent: Melody Royval, Staff Accountant
PuppyKitty, age 3.5, favorite activity: eating her owner's shoes, chewing on laptop power cords, destroying couches and sleeping on her owner's bed.
At Cuvaison we take a meticulously detailed approach to farming that starts from the ground up. After carefully mapping changes in soil depth, composition, drainage, aspect and slope, we planted the vineyard into a complicated patchwork comprised of 44 different blocks of Chardonnay and 20 unique blocks of Pinot Noir.
These blocks range in size from a few rows up to 12 acres, and each block has its own distinctive match of rootstock and clone. Each block is farmed as its own little vineyard, harvested separately and made into its own batch of wine.
By farming and crafting these wines in this way, we are able to knit together a more complex and fully realized expression of our Estate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir - as each block adds its own special nuance to the overall blend.
GAYOT.com website is an internationally renowned and professional guide to dining, hotels, travel and lifestyle, including spas, movies and automobiles. They recently published an article on their website where they share their "Top Summer Wines" of 2014 - and Cuvaison's 2012 Estate Chardonnay was selected!
Read the article here.
May in Carneros has been quite breezy but generally pleasant. In the early part of the month our vines bloomed and have gone through berry set. Winegrowers refer to “set” as those flowers that successfully fertilized and have become grape berries. The set looks quite good and we look forward to another fine vintage.
Although budbreak was early this year, bloom was essentially the same as last year, so we anticipate harvest starting about the same time as 2013, which at Cuvaison will most likely be the first week of September.
Post set, we start doing our leafing pass. The type and amount of leafing we do varies from block to block at Cuvaison, and takes into account row orientation to the sun and wind, as well as mildew pressure and risk of sunburn. In general, our philosophy is to prevent sunburn first and foremost, but with an eye to allowing some dappled sunlight and fresh airflow, to help season the skins and toughen them against any days of high heat or excessive moisture. We do this by hand removing interior leaves and lateral shoots in the canopy and leaves below the fruit zone.
It was wonderful sharing such an intimate and engaging gathering with Club Members at our Brandlin Vineyard Tour last Saturday.
We saw new friendships forged while learning what makes Brandlin mountain grown Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel wines so special. We will cherish the memories of being up there on the mountain for years to come, and hope the Club Members that joined us will do the same!
Jay especially enjoyed sharing his knowledge on what makes the Mount Veeder winegrowing region so unique, as well as sharing deeper insights on the Brandlin family's long history of farming on Mount Veeder.
We look forward to offering more intimate Club-Member-Only experiences like this in the future!
Additional photos can be viewed at this link.
Enjoy these snapshots taken at our Club Cuvaison Tres de Mayo open house fiesta. Excellent wine, fantastic food from Villa Corona and lots and lots of happy Club Members enjoying a beautiful Saturday in Napa Valley. What more could you want?
We are thrilled to read what Steve Heimoff says about our 2012 Estate Pinot Noir in Wine Enthusiast's June 2014 issue, rated 91 Points.
“With a light, silky mouthfeel and mouthwatering acidity, this Pinot satisfies for its rich array of raspberries, cherries, spices, cola and smoky oak. It defines the Carneros style: tart, a little earthy and ageworthy. Drink now - 2019.”
And we agree - it’s delicious!
2012 Estate Pinot Noir
2012 Estate Syrah
New Release | Estate Series
Just a superb year for Syrah from a cool climate vineyard.
An axiom of winemaking is to grow varieties on the edge of
where they will ripen. The soils and climate of our Carneros Estate provide the challenges required to tame the prolific Syrah vine and sharpen the characteristics that define this variety. Add in a long, cool growing season like 2012 and you have the makings of an excellent vintage. Our 2012 bottling boasts a full range of Syrah-esque qualities; gamey, peppery, bacon-fat, mesquite, lavender and rosemary notes backed with brambly cherry, boysenberry and blackberry fruit. The palate is full-bodied with rich, jammy fruit,
a touch of anise seed and long, silky tannins.
- Winemaker, Steven Rogstad
Young Shoots & Leaves
This is what our vines look like only two weeks after bud break. You can see the shoot tip (Anlagen) which will keep extending the shoots out for several more weeks and can grow, at our site, in warm weather up to half-an-inch per day. You can also observe the tiny clusters which will develop inflorescences and began to flower in mid-May. Our focus on the farm now is to protect these young shoots from mildew and frost as well as remove, by hand, any unwanted shoots that volunteer; a practice we call suckering.
Introducing Cuvaison's 2013 Solitaire Sauvignon Blanc
New Release | *New Blend | Winery Exclusive
A very dry, early season added concentration to our 2013 Solitaire Sauvignon Blanc. This singular wine is crafted from a diamond shaped parcel within our Carneros Estate Vineyard. The 2013 Solitaire was picked in two passes. The earlier picked fruit was fermented in stainless steel, the later was *vinted in our concrete egg. The concrete egg softens and enriches the wine over time. The egg’s thick walls have the effect of softening any bitterness and giving the resulting wine a warmer, more unctuous tone. Fresh notes of gooseberry, melon, kiwi and apricots are braced on the palate with shimmering acidity and crisp minerality which serve to lengthen the flavors and let them linger on the tongue. - Winemaker Steven Rogstad
|2013 Solitaire Sauvignon Blanc||23.00||18.40||276.00||220.80|
Club Cuvaison Members save more than 20% off.
Not a Club Cuvaison Member? Click here to learn more.
Introducing two Cuvaison NEW RELEASE, limited production wines from our Single Block Series!
These two wines are born from our most prized and distinctive blocks, illustrating the most complete expression of fruit from our Carneros Estate Vineyard.
|2012 Kite Tail Chardonnay||42.00||33.60||504.00||403.20|
|2012 Spire Pinot Noir||48.00||38.40||576.00||460.80|
On our Carneros Estate Vineyard bud break began in earnest the first week of March, which is a few weeks earlier than the norm. This is the first stage of the annual growth cycle of the vine, using energy stored in its root system, the vines' sap begins to flow and the buds burst with the growth of this year’s shoots. Once the buds have pushed, new leaves will began to unfurl on the newborn shoots and photosynthesis will take over as the engine for the vines.
Here you can see mustard growing up between between the rows of vines in our Carneros, Napa Valley vineyard.
"Visiting Cuvaison Winery in the Heart of Carneros"
A range of excellent wines from Napa Valley
Gabe Sasso, The Daily Meal
** Click here to visit the article on The Daily Meal's website:
For a number of years now, I’ve been drinking Cuvaison wines and last year I even had dinner with their affable winemaker, Steve Rogstad. However, until recently I’d never been to their facility, so it seemed like high time to change that on my most recent trip to Napa Valley. Cuvaison is best known for making chardonnay and Pinot noir. Their core wines are made using fruit sourced in Carneros, where the winery sits amongst their vineyards. Cuvaison also has a label called Brandlin that is focused on making Estate Cabernet from Mt. Veeder fruit. All around they’re very much the embodiment of an estate producer.
Cuvaison, in fact, has a couple of tasting rooms: one up on Silverado Trail in Calistoga and another that is also gently nestled among their vines in Carneros. Wanting to get to the heart of things, I scheduled my recent visit with them for the Carneros location. One of the biggest practical differences between the two tasting rooms is that you can simply walk in to the one in Calistoga and belly up to the bar. The Carneros location offers a couple of options which are available by appointment. One option is a vineyard walk and tasting which occurs four days a week at 9:30 AM. The walk lasts approximately 20 minutes and is followed by a tasting. The other option is a seated tasting, which is what I participated in when my group visited. The facility is on the intimate side and it has both indoor and outdoor seating. In good weather, the glass doors can be opened so even those who are inside get to enjoy the beautiful climate.
When we arrived, the staff greeted us and asked if we preferred to sit inside or out. After, we were guided through our tasting, as they brought over one wine at a time. They told us a bit about each one and were available to answer any questions about the selections they poured, as well as the winery. In a sense, the depth of the tasting from an informational perspective can go as deep or as shallow into things as your party desires. This ability to gauge where each group wants to take it is one of the keys to bringing intimate, seated tastings to the next level. My group wasn’t in a hurry, so we spent a couple of hours enjoying our surroundings and luxuriating in the Cuvaison wines. As a piece, their wines are well made, site-specific offerings which also speak of vintage conditions. That said, a handful of them particularly stood out to me on that day:
Cuvaison 2012 Solitaire Sauvignon Blanc ($23) — Produced from vines planted to the Musqué clone of Sauvignon Blanc, this wine doesn’t see any oak treatment or undergo malolactic fermentation. Anjou pear and yellow delicious apple aromas emerge from the nose of this sauvignon blanc. The palate shows off citrus zest, flinty mineral notes, and white pepper spice. Bits of pleasing green herb emerge on the finish which is clean, crisp and refreshing. This is a lovely example of sauvignon blanc that works as well by itself as it will with lighter foods.
Cuvaison 2011 ATS Chardonnay ($56) — The fruit for this wine comes from some of the oldest planted blocks on the Estate and are planted to the Dijon 809 Clone. Bits of linseed oil, toast, and baker’s spices emerge from the nose of this chardonnay. This is a bold chardonnay loaded with tropical and orchard fruit aromas throughout a full bodied palate. Tons of mineral and spice emerge on the finish which has excellent length. This chardonnay will complement rich cream sauces and soft cheeses quite well. It’s a somewhat extravagant example of chardonnay, which aims to impress and it does.
Cuvaison 2012 Estate Pinot Noir ($38) — The fruit for this Estate Cuvee came from 20 distinct blocks on their property: each block is handled separately and the final blend takes place prior to bottling. Black tea and bing cherry aromas leap from the nose of this fresh and exuberant Pinot noir. Red fruits dominate the gentle but firm palate, with bits of black fruit weaving in and out of the picture. Cherries, strawberries, and hints of plum are of particular note here. Leather, black pepper, and wisps of green savory herb are all part of the finish which has terrific length. This is a nice Pinot noir which will pair with a truly wide array of foods. It would also be a nice wine to sit in the corner with as you sip it slowly and contemplate life. In either case you can’t go wrong. This is a terrific Pinot at a very fair price for the quality.
Cuvaison 2011 Estate Syrah ($38) — The Syrah vines that are sourced for this wine are located on hillsides, and the exposure to greater sun in the hills allows the Syrah to ripen more evenly. Lots of anise leads the massive nose on this 2011 Syrah. Black cherry and raspberry fruit flavors are in full effect on the weighty and friendly palate. Blackberry and plum notes emerge on the finish along with smoked meat characteristics and a hint of chicory. The tannins here are firm, but yield with some air. This Syrah will excel when it’s paired with bold, full flavored foods.
The two Estate wines above and their Estate chardonnay are all widely available all over the country. Their other selections are more limited in availability; some are only available directly through the winery. Steve Rogstad has been crafting some really fine wines over at Cuvaison for a long time now. Across the board these are approachable, proportionate wines with depth. If you’re not familiar with Cuvaison, spend your money on their offerings with the confidence that you’ll get a quality artisan product.
Experience the one and only 2012 Béton Sauvignon Blanc.
We named this wine Béton, French for concrete, in recognition of the egg shaped vessel it was produced in and the round, bright, warm stony impact it has imparted to this wine.
Retail Bottle 23.00
Click here to go topurchase this wine.
|"Lemon chiffon, kiwi, laurel and beeswax on
the nose with rich citrus, quince melon and
passion fruit expressing itself on the palate."
- Winemaker, Steven Rogstad
|Carneros Tasting Room
1221 Duhig Road, Napa CA 94559, (707) 942-2455
Earlier this month our President, Jay Schuppert, was invited by the Great Wine Capitals to attend an evening gala at the Culinary Institute of America.
At this event, he received an award on behalf of Cuvaison Estate Wines for “Best Architecture and Landscape” for our Carneros location. The award was given by the Great Wine Capitals as part of their “Best of Tourism Awards,” which celebrate innovation and excellence in wine tourism throughout the ten greatest wine regions in the world.
We would like to celebrate with and congratulate our architects, Doug Thornley and Bob Baum from Gould Evans, for helping us bring this stunning and architecturally intriguing structure into fruition. Each day we are delighted to share this unique space with our guests.
To learn more about the Best Of Wine Tourism Awards or Great Wine Capitals, click here.
“Chardonnay lovers will enjoy this wine for Thanksgiving. It’s clean fruit flavors, crisp acidity, modest oak and long finish go well with the varied dishes on traditional Thanksgiving tables. Ask your favorite store to order this wine for you. Prices may vary."
A big thanks to all of the Club Cuvaison members who joined us in our Calistoga Wine Cave this past Sunday to celebrate the upcoming holiday season.
Cuvaison and Brandlin wines, including our Estate Series, Single Block and Club Exclusives were shared and paired with scrumptious bites from Park Avenue Catering. We also had on display our Holiday Gift Collections - available for purchase between now and the end of the year while quantities last.
Here’s a look at the Menu:
Portobello "Fries" with Parmesan, Chili Flakes & Balsamic Glaze
Curried Scallops with a Mango Chutney, Served on a Wonton Crisp
Slow Cooked Coffee Rubbed Pork with Dried Cherries & Farro
Local Artisan Salumi, Cheeses & Assorted Condiments
Duck & Wild Mushroom Risotto
Mini Chocolate & Salted Caramel Butter Cream Macarons
And some of our attendees ...
(Larger image files are available upon request by emailing here.)