It is difficult to talk about winemaking without talking about winegrowing. The quality of the fruit directly impacts the quality of the wine produced from it. At Kessler-Haak, we believe winemaking begins in the vineyard and that we are winegrowers first and foremost and winemakers second. We live on and work in the vineyard. Coaxing the best fruit from each vine requires an integral involvement with the grape growing process; being there each day, touching the vines and soil and being hands-on in all aspects of the farming.
As winemakers, our goal is to craft great food friendly wines that speak of place and time. The single most important factor influencing this goal is the decision of when to harvest. We base this decision on a combination of factors including: sugar levels, pH, flavors, visual appearance of the fruit and vines, seed ripeness and the style of wine we are striving to create. Ripeness in a given year, which ultimately reflects time and place, is the optimal confluence of these factors.
Great wine, produced from ingredients of this quality, practically makes itself. Consequently, we feel the best winemaking approach is a minimalistic one, relying on traditional methods and techniques.
For our red wines, hand-harvesting begins before dawn to ensure the fruit remains chilled until it is ready for processing. At the winery, clusters are hand-sorted and gently de-stemmed. The fruit is cold soaked for a minimum of 4 days before allowing it to warm up naturally and begin primary fermentation. During fermentation, caps are punched down 2-3 times/day.
The fermented 'must' is gently pressed before fermentation ends (Pinot) or, in some cases, after up to a 50 day extended maceration (Syrah). Pressed wines are settled and racked into French Burgundy and Hungarian oak barrels for malolactic (ML) fermentation and aging. Wines are aged unracked 10 (Pinot) to 15 (Syrah) months before being moved from barrel for blending and bottling, unfined and unfiltered, and sealed with natural cork. Bottled wines are typically aged up to 1 year before release.
For our Chardonnay wines, hand-harvesting also begins before dawn. Following whole cluster pressing and settling, the juice is racked to French Burgundy oak barrels for primary and ML fermentations and aged sur lie with batonnage for up to 10 months. Finished wines are sterile filtered before moving them to natural cork closure bottles for additional aging of up to 1 year before release.