Harvest came to our gorgeous sauvignon blanc vineyard at Caspar Estate on August 21st, 2020. As is usual, the fruit was hand-picked in the cool, early-morning hours, then quickly transported to Fayard Winemaking on the south end of Napa Valley, where our delicate fruit continued a journey that started nearly a hundred and forty years ago.
It was back in the 1880's when Charles Wetmore, founder of Cresta Blanca Winery, brought the first Sauvignon Blanc vines to California from the Sauternes vineyards of Château d'Yquem. Though they were initially planted in the Livermore Valley, the new vintners of Napa quickly got their hands on the new vines, knowing that the soil and climate in their valley closely matched the conditions in Bordeaux, France. The Sauvignon Blanc vines at Caspar Estate - distant relatives of these first immigrants - have their "roots" in this Old World tradition.
Another way that we pay homage to the Old World ways is the method we use when our grapes first arrive at our winemaking facility. Under the supervision of winemaker Julien Fayard - himself a first-generation French immigrant - the grapes are sorted in whole clusters and sent directly to the press. This year, we picked 4.9 tons of grapes: a small number indeed, since we only plant one acre of sauvignon blanc on our estate.
The press only holds room for about four tons of grapes, so we fill the press, do a quick run, then fit the remaining grapes into the press. This extra "press" also extracts just the right amount of tannin from the skins - not enough to become part of the flavor profile, but enough to give the acid just a little kick, making the Caspar Estate Sauvignon Blanc an excellent complement to shellfish and light pastas.
"This wine practically makes itself," says Fayard. "By closely tending to the vines throughout the growing season, we know that the fruit is going to be gorgeous when we harvest it. Beautiful wines depend on beautiful fruit."
Originally from Provence, Julien Fayard is one of Napa Valley’s most respected winemakers, with a knack for producing California varietals with French finesse. Formerly of Chateau Lafite Rothschild, he brings two decades of winemaking expertise Caspar Estate's Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Fayard believes that the character of our Sauvignon Blanc, like the fruit grown in Bordeaux, is a result of terroir. "The citrus qualities come from the unique soils of our Estate, from its position above the Rutherford Bench. You cannot manufacture this. This is pure fruit expression."
Once the juice is pressed, it's placed in stainless steel tanks for its primary fermentation. Later, the wine will be transferred to French oak barrels, which gives the wine even more complex flavors. "We use oak to draw flavors out of the wine, not to draw flavors out of the oak," says Fayard. More than anything, our oak treatment is designed to give the wine a round, balanced mouthfeel and a lush but clean finish.
2020 is shaping up to be another excellent vintage in Napa, with a cooler than normal summer despite the heat wave that hit right before the harvest. Our 2019 Caspar Estate Sauvignon Blanc - only our second bottling of this limited-availability wine - was released this month to rave reviews. If you'd like to be among the few who are allocated the 2020 vintage in early spring of next year, sign up on our Allocation List and we'll let you know how.
For pinot noir, bottling is the last step in a nearly two-year process that takes grapes from the vine and puts wine on your table. If you've ever seen a wine bottling, you may think it looks like a lot like manufacturing, and not nearly as romantic as winemaking sounds. The truth is, every step of the process is absolutely essential to ensure that you not only pour a quality wine from that bottle, but that the wine can beautifully and gracefully age in the that bottle.
Let's take a look at how bottling works. Earlier this month, we bottled our two, newest pinot noirs: the 2019 Russian River Pinot Noir and the 2019 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir. We're especially excited about the Santa Lucia Highlands release, as it is our first bottling of pinot noir from this unique and gorgeous appellation.
Bring In The Bottling Truck
It all starts with a big truck that looks like this:
It's not a food truck - it's better. It's a Moble Bottling Truck, which contains all the necessary equipment to clean, fill, cork and label a wine bottle. Trucks like this can set up quickly directly outside a crush pad or warehouse and bottle tens of thousands of gallons of wine per day.
First, the wine is poured from barrels (or stainless steel tanks, if those were used for fermentation) into large tanks like this one. Notice the tubing that leads to a regulator that can start or stop the wine from reaching the bottling truck.
The bottling crew then takes cases of pre-sanitized wine bottles and empties them onto a conveyor belt that guides them onto the first mechanism, a machine that blasts nitrogen into the bottle to not only clear out any remaining dust particles, but to eliminate oxygen from the bottle. The bottle is then transfered from this machine to the one that dispenses a perfect 750 ml of wine into the bottle. In this video, you can see the first process on the right, and the second one on the left.
The bottles are then corked. A machine pops a burst of nitrogen into the top of the bottle to push out the tiny bit of oxygen remaining, then a cork is inserted to the bottle. This ensures that the least amount of oxygen remains in the bottle, so that the wine inside will age without oxydation.
The bottles then move along the conveyer to where they'll be labeled. The labels are printed on giant rolls, which unwind as the bottle goes by. A roller affixes both the front and back labels.
Finally, the bottles are placed in cases, where they are sealed by hand and placed on pallets for warehousing. At this point, the wine is in "Bottle Shock," a phenominon that occurs when wine has been shaken or disturbed more than normal. Bottle Shock can result in a wine tasting disjointed or imbalanced, so it's recommended that recently-bottled wines are allowed to settle for at least a few days. We typically extend that period to 60 days, just to be sure. (Pro Tip: Bottle Shock can even occur after the shipping process, so it's recommended that wine you purchase by mail be allowed to rest a couple of days before being consumed).
We'll be celebrating Pinot Noir Day on August 28th, and if the 2019s are ready for their debut by then, they'll be making their debut. Sign up for our Newsletter to keep informed about our plans for Pinot Noir Day events all that week!
2018 Rosé of Pinot Noir, Napa Valley Release Day
Saturday, June 8th
National Rosé Day
Tasting notes for the 2018 Napa Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir
A beautiful light color of Rosé reminiscent of an early garden pink rose. Dried cranberries, roses and citrus create its delicate nose. From the glass to your palate the wine is bright fresh richness of cranberries and soft spices. The Cultivar 2018 Rosé will be the perfect match for springtime brunch, summer barbecues, on the boat, beach, pool or picnic.
Traveling to Napa or San Francisco?
We would love to meet you and have you visit us at one of our two locations.
Napa Private Chef Club
We will greet you in the courtyard and you will experience an introductory wine and food pairing. You will then be escorted through the private culinary club kitchen. You will partake in a series of custom food and wine pairings. These pairings are artfully crafted by our private club chef to complement a selection of our current wines.
16 Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc paired with a Salmon Crudo Bite
’13 Carneros Merlot paired with a Chicken with Mole Bites
’13 Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon paired with a Curry Squash Soup Shooter
’14 Leaky Lake Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Short Rib Bites
$42 per person for up to 8 guests. Allow 90 minutes.
Looking for more? Create your own custom kitchen experience, learn hands on techniques while cooking with the chef in the professional kitchen. Or coordinate with the chef to create a custom meal paired with wines that is presented to you while you relax. Contact Dianne to create a memorable day, pricing varies.
Cultivar San Francisco
An intimate experience featuring a menu inspired by locally sourced seasonal ingredients. The menu compliments the hand crafted wines and food pairing from the Napa Valley. You will partake in a series of custom food and wine pairings. These pairings are artfully crafted by our chef to complement a selection of our current wines.
Terroirs of the Napa Valley
Savor the unique regions of the Napa Valley that inspired a selection of Cultivar current release wines and the Rutherford hills Caspar Estate Cabernet Sauvignon paired with a bite of artisan cheese drizzled with our estate honey.
$40 per person
Caspar Estate Tasting
This is a library tasting of our estate grown wines from the hills of Rutherford in the Napa Valley. Savor the history of Caspar Estate and its family while sipping the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc from different vintages. The rich, full bodied estate wines will be paired with specific artisan cheese and charcuterie platter and Caspar Estate honey and olive oil.
$90 per person
Lunch & Tasting
Enjoy your wine tasting paired with a meal of your choosing. Savor local seasonal salads, or sandwiches, local seasonal plates or two or three course meal.
Ask us for details & pricing.
All bookings are facilitated by advance reservations only. To reserve your Cultivar Experience, please do so through the link below or call directly 707-400-9280.
Dianne 707-400-9280 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
With Spring here and summer entertaining just around the corner we wanted to share this great blog post from Kit of The Kittchen sharing her favorite Cheese pairings with Cultivar Wine. For any Cultivar Wine Club members, this will be great inspiration guiding you on what recent wine club releases to pair best with which cheese. Lifestyle blog.
See the entire blog post on The Kittchen. Happy pairing, we hope you enjoy this delicious entertaining inspiration and fun!
Photos courtesy of Kit of The Kittchen
We are thrilled to share with you a post by one of our Cultivar Wine Bloggers, Kelly of A Side of Sweet. This is a sneak peak of the post. Please visit A Side of Sweet for the entire recipe (Cheese, crackers, greenery and other yummyness featured below). Kudos Kelly on such a fabulous casual cheese & wine spread. We love it and are thrilled to share it with our readers.
"Putting Together a Fancy Wine & Cheese Spread"
Cheese :: "I figured this was my chance to go crazy and get a whole bunch of cheese! I definitely went overboard, which was fine by me because it meant I got to eat my favorite meal of cheese and crackers for dinner the next few nights."
"My first stop was Trader Joe’s where you can get some delicious options that are great for a budget. The I hit up Whole Foods. Although it’s a bit more expensive, the nice thing about Whole Foods is that the staff is super knowledgable and will go out of their way to help you pick the perfect cheese for your occasion. They also had a better selection of local cheeses. Here are the cheeses I got."
Creamy Toscano soaked in Syrah
Italian Truffle Cheese
Le Delice de Bourgogne Triple Cream Soft Ripened Cheese
Assortment of Chèvre
Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam cheese
Point Reyes Original Blue cheese
Spanish Tapa’s Assortment
Goat’s Milk Feta
Wine :: "I wanted to go with local wine, so I served Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc from Cultivar Wines. Cultivar is a family-run winery in Napa Valley, California. They make their wines from some of the best grapes in Napa and it shows – when we opened our first bottle I almost fell over! This wine is some of the best I’ve had in California, even with all the trips to wine country that we’ve made since we moved here! I think it was one of the highlights of the night – our guests kept commenting on how good it was!"
To read more about the Charcuterie, Crackers and other tips for this amazing dish visit A Side Of Sweet.