Spring 2023 Newsletter

Detail Makes the Difference

Winegrowing is a process that involves hundreds of decisions from the start of the growing season to when the wine is bottled. Every season, every vintage, is unique and distinctive. These decisions and steps, whether in the vineyard or the winery, measurably impact quality. For ROAR and the grapes we grow and sell, our number one priority is to achieve the highest quality. 

“Quality starts in the vineyard, and our work there is paramount in crafting exceptional wines,” says Gary. Our vineyard crews have decades of experience and touch each vine once every 12 days during the growing season. Our methods are high-touch and high-intensity attention to detail. Every decision makes an impact, from the long-term commitments of rootstock and clonal selections to the seasonal duties of shoot and cluster thinning. 

Thinning the crop is an example of one of the most crucial and painstaking decisions we make, sacrificing quantity for quality each growing season. In years where the fruit is abundant on the vine, this requires close assessment and careful execution. The ultimate goal is to bring each vine into its optimal cluster load to efficiently distribute its resources to maintain healthy vines and grape clusters. Balancing the crop load helps the grapes to achieve full ripeness and concentration of flavors.

In the winery, the overnight drain is one of the lesser-known steps we implement to maximize quality. Once a Pinot Noir fermentation is complete, we drain the wine from the tank into the barrel, leaving the skins and must behind in the tank. Then, we let the remaining liquid trapped in the skins drain overnight. This slow, overnight drip can add another 50 gallons of intense, concentrated free-run wine. Nick emphasizes, “Although it is a tricky and tedious process, the overnight drain often creates some of our most delicious wines. Extra work for extra intensity.”

Crafting the final blends can be the most challenging set of decisions in our quest for quality. Blending allows us to shape and mold the wine to show the best of the vintage and reflect where it comes from. Scott and Nick spend seven weeks developing initial blends, then present them for a final session with Gary, Adam, and Adam Lee over four days. These sessions are the last opportunity to refine the wines that will achieve our standard of excellence.

“With blending, possibilities are endless. For each vineyard, there are multiple blocks, different clones, and a mix of French oak barrels from a variety of producers, forests and toast levels,” Scott Shapley explains. We trial the blends by cherry-picking individual barrels, or by using varying portions of the blocks, clones and oak sources. For some vintages, we also have concrete-aged wine or whole-cluster fermented wine to use for blending.  

Hundreds of decisions and actions by dozens of people go into every bottle of ROAR, all united by our quest for the highest quality possible. “To be truly committed to quality, attention to detail at every step of the winegrowing and winemaking process is required. That’s how you craft first-class wines,” adds Adam.