Our winemaking combines grapes from our California soil with the best of traditional Old World winemaking and New World modern techniques. Read about our winemaking below, and download a description of each wine here. You can buy our wines online here.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Red Blends
Winemaking for these wines combines the best of traditional European winemaking and New World modern techniques. The grapes are hand harvested and carefully sorted prior to crushing and destemming. After a cold soaking period, the must is fermented with Bordeaux yeast and traditional Bordeaux style screened pump-overs.
At the completion of fermentation the wine continues to rest on the skins for an extended maceration to develop richness and complexity. The wine is gently pressed and placed in barrel for malolactic fermentation.
All our red wines have been aged in French oak barrels for more than 2 years. The Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is bottle-stored 4-5 years before release and contains 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from our West Crest vineyard. We use barrels from several different coopers to allow for various flavor profiles, changing out half every year so that 50% of the barrels are new. The barrels we use are all produced by fine coopers that use tight grained, well-seasoned oak to handcraft their barrels. The wine is racked several times during aging to create a clear wine which will not need heavy filtering.
Blanc de Blancs
Our sparkling wine, made in the traditional method, Methode Champenoise, is a vintage Blanc de Blancs, i.e. 100% Chardonnay, Extra Brut. The wine is fermented a second time in the bottle and laid down to rest for three years to gain flavor and mouthfeel. The sparkling wine has a green apple aroma as well as pear and citrus along with a hint of brioche. The perfectly balanced myriad of small bubbles feel like sea foam in your mouth, hence our name West Seafoam for this festive wine.
Our Sauvignon Blanc grows right outside the tasting room so you can see its progress throughout the year. The hand harvested grapes are sorted and pressed as whole clusters and fermented in stainless steel tanks. We want our Sauvignon Blanc very dry in the Bordeaux style and you will find hints of melon and citrus in the aroma and flavor.
The grapes are hand harvested then carefully sorted prior to whole cluster pressing. The juice is settled then racked for fermentation in stainless steel. The young wine ferments for 4-5 months before being bottled.
Some years we also make a Viognier Reserve which is 100% fermented in neutral oak barrels and aged for 5 months in the barrels before bottling. This gives the Viognier an even more lush mouth feel and mature flavors. See Dessert Wine below
Our Chardonnay is crafted in a Burgundy style combining a crisp style with a full mouthfeel. Classic pear and apple aromas blend with a hint of elderberry. We use light oak aging for 4 months in neutral oak barrels and only a third of them go through malolactic fermentation to get a smooth flavor without too much buttery taste.
Dessert Wine - Late Harvest Viognier
A small amount of Viognier grapes are left hanging another month after the regular Viognier harvest. The grapes are now much sweeter, have tough skins and less juice. We press in a small manual wooden press. This is hard work which takes about 12 hours and then the grapes are fermented slowly over 5 weeks in neutral French oak barrels until we have a golden wine with lush aromas and about 6% sugar.
Since we started the winery I have been lucky to learn from women winemakers, first Julia Iantosca until 2008 and then Phyllis Zouzounis. To really understand winemaking, theory and practice have to be married so I got my Winemaker Certificate at UC Davis. Now I get to practice the fine art of winemaking and every season there are new things to learn.
Phyllis Zouzounis is a pioneer woman winemaker, having begun her winemaking career at Dry Creek Vineyards in 1980. After 15 years of experience there, she moved on as winemaker and general manager of another Dry Creek winery, Mazzocco Vineyards. With a partner she then formed Deux Amis and produced award-winning Zinfandel. She now makes wines under her own label Zouzounis selecting grapes from fine vineyards around Sonoma County.
The first winemaker at West Wines was Julia Iantosca who made our Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon until 2008. Julia has made wine at many fine wineries in Sonoma County and shares our passion for Bordeaux-style wines. She helped get our European style of winemaking in place.