Duckhorn Portfolio Wine Blog
Posts written by Neil Bernardi, Vice President of Winemaking and many special guest bloggers. This collection of insights on winemaking, farming, entertaining and more is a great way to learn about the excitement of winery life and tips for enjoying the wines we produce.
2018 in Anderson Valley was one of those years where everything just worked out. It was neither too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry, or the crop neither too big nor too small. It was, for all intents and purposes, “just right.”
After a very rainy winter providing a bounty of water reserves, the season gave way to lush and healthy canopies with a well-balanced crop in our vineyards. From the wet spring, budbreak and bloom were delayed, and we sailed through frost season without any sleepless nights. The summer months were very temperate with no heat spikes, so the grapes matured at an even, steady pace. Once it came time to harvest our first Pinot Noir fruit, we were well into September, which harked to the good ol’ days of the official unofficial start of harvest in Anderson Valley on the Monday after the County Fair, always mid-month. This tradition had fizzled away in recent years in part from compounded years of drought inching our start dates further into August. Once we got going, Goldeneye had a steady flow of Pinot fruit until October 31st, our latest vintage in many years.
There’s something about harvesting grapes when it’s near freezing every morning with your sticky, cold fingers sorting through clusters as you chat and laugh with your team, dancing to Cumbia as you try to keep warm. These are the fleeting moments that turn the mysteries of winemaking into a real, livable feeling. It’s the fermented grapes squeezing between your toes with sweat streaming down your face as you shovel out fruit destined to be pressed. It’s the pre-dawn walkaround, tasting each bin as you mentally picture where to put everything and surprise – you’ve got 2 extra tons of your favorite block! It’s walking into the winery where the smells hit you like a train - red currant, plum and cranberry, sweet confectionary spices and dried herbs. Meanwhile your sleepy interns are enthusiastically punching each tank down as you blast music through the speakers to wake everyone up. You see the beauty in the madness of hoses pumping wine, presses rotating and hissing, forklifts beeping, barrels being unstacked, filled, then restacked – it is organized chaos that keeps your heart pumping and your feet moving. And finally, it’s the quiet, twilight-filled winery when everyone has gone home, and I am left with just a glass and a pair of headphones as I taste through every tank and trace the various stages of each fermentation. These are the moments I wait for all year, and in 2018 those moments were filled with intense happiness and pride in my team.
I cannot talk about the 2018 season without mentioning the incredible people that are the unsung heroes of every Goldeneye wine. Our vineyard management company, spearheaded by Paul Ardzrooni and Tony Sanchez, these guys in addition to the countless other pickers, tractor drivers, and foremen that deliver us in the wee hours of the morning the literal fruits of their labor. Our own vineyard team of Rob Sorenson and Orlando Espinoza, who’s dedication is most seen in their sleepless, reddened eyes as they patiently wait for you to schedule the next day’s fruit. And of course, the Goldeneye cellar crew, fearlessly led by Pancho Ibarra, Goldeneye’s first and only cellar master of 25-years. His focus, dedication, adeptness, and humor are what keep the machine oiled and moving. Alongside Pancho is Jose Luis Mendoza, who’s laugh is infectious and eager-beaver attitude gets everyone moving, and Remy Martin, who’s energy has kept everyone lifted and hyped every day. Our three interns who’s love for winemaking inspired all of us every day, Sam Buckingham, Tomas Vietti, and Miriam Olivera. We have since added a few new team members who worked tirelessly to help finish the 2018 wines - Kristen McMahan, our wonderful Assistant Winemaker, who has an eye and taste for making truly great wines, and Julian Vasquez, our newest cellar crew member.
These people were and are 2018 Goldeneye and from one of the best season’s in recent memory - the Goldilocks Vintage - we can finally share these special wines with you all and truly hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed making them.