Four new trends in California winemaking

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How are winemakers in California shaking things up...?

*Published on DecanterChina.com in association with the California Wine Institute

Best of both worlds

Jonathan Nagy, winemaker, Byron ‘For me the most exciting current trend among winemakers is taking the best of Old World techniques and combining them with New World methods and innovations. That approach will continue to deliver consistent expressions of site in a responsible and sustainable manner.’

Ideas are fermenting

Marcus Notaro, winemaker, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars ‘I’ve noticed that winemakers are now spending more time to find the best coopers. What they want above all is a barrel that brings out the sense of the wine’s place.

‘They are also increasingly experimenting with different types and shapes of fermentation vessels to see what effect they have on the wine.’

Marcus Notaro, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars
Marcus Notaro, Stag

Natural yeast

Jeff Meier, director of winemaking, J Lohr Vineyards & Wines ‘I think that estate wineries will move away from commercial yeasts and rely instead on local yeasts that are found in their own vineyards.

‘This is a natural progression from the terroir-driven technique of native fermentation, as the technology for propagating yeast in-house becomes more available to winemakers. Today we’re working to isolate yeasts from our own vineyards that can reliably give us the character we are looking for. This has become possible due to advances in laboratory techniques.’

New technology

Jon Emmerich, winemaker, Silverado Vineyards ‘Due to labour shortages the great estates will need to find ways to mechanise some winery tasks, while at the same time maintaining absolute quality. We tested optical sorting in 2008 and 2009, and now deploy it effectively on the full estate.

‘The result is far higher quality with individual berries sorted by pigment density, shape and size.

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