2018 proved to be a great growing season in California, most would call ideal. Cooler temperatures and moderate weather lead to a long growing season, allowing grapes to ripen smoothly. High on the hilltops in Rockpile sits JD Ranch. Well above the fog line, this vineyard soaked in all the sunshine throughout the year. In return we found ourselves with concentrated fruit flavors of boysenberry, blackberry, cherry pie, and cassis with hints of butter shortbread cookies on the nose. The deep root structure of the vines helped balance out the palate with earth tones behind raspberry jam, maraschino cherry, baking spices, sweet dark cocoa and cedar plank on the finish. This wine has structure and is full bodied, but the subtle nuances on the finish bring plenty of complexity.
Clusters were hand harvested early morning to ensure gentle processing of cool fruit. At the winery, the grapes were hand sorted, destemmed, crushed to release the juice and start the extraction process from the skins. The grapes were then fermented a jacketed open top tank. With pump overs conducted twice a day, where we use a pump to take the juice from below the skins and pump it back up and over all the skins to break down and extract color from the skins. Being from a biodynamic vineyard, we allowed the native yeast to ferment this wine. At dryness, the grapes were pressed to tank and racked clean into a combination of 35% new French oak barrels for 18 months aging.
This vintage started off cooler than the previous few vintages. Despite having a warm February, the cooler weather set in and provided a wonderfully cool spring. The bloom lasted longer than usual and provided for consistent fruit set throughout the vineyards. The summer temperatures were moderate and allowed veraison to start later than previous vintages. There was a cooling trend in late July that meant we avoided the typical late summer heat spikes that drove an early and compressed harvest the previous two vintages. As a result, harvest started 2-3 weeks later than previous years, but was really back to normal where it should be. The grape development and maturation took extra time with the cooler weather with vineyards thinning fruit more times than in previous years. Slower ripening and cooler weather typically provides higher quality fruit and we are already seeing the benefits in the cellar with fully mature, sweet tannins, outstanding color and brightness, depth of fruit and naturally beautifully balanced wines. Due to an ideal growing season, the 2018 vintage is already showing its potential for greatness.
FRUIT SOURCE: JD RANCH VINYARD, ROCKPILE AVA, SONOMA COUNTY
Rockpile is located directly northwest of Dry Creek Valley and is perched high above Lake Sonoma. The AVA covers 15,400 acres, is home to around 11 vineyards of which have planted wine grapes on approximately 160 acres, and is famed for a “signature clone” of Zinfandel, selected from the vineyard of St. Peter’s Catholic Church in nearby Cloverdale. At elevations ranging from 800 to 2,100 feet, Rockpile vineyards receive plentiful sunlight, with less fog due to an inversion layer created by Lake Sonoma.
Bailarín Cellars was created in 2014 by a collective of family and friends, each following their respective passions. Together we focus on producing small lots of handcrafted wines from unique vineyard sources. We are proud to share the fruits of our labor and love with you.