St. Supery: Day One, Part TwoBy Marisa D'Vari | September 24th, 2012 | Category: News | No Comments »
The drive from Dollarhide to the St. Supery winery is a gorgeous long, winding road. The winery was named for the original owner of the house on the property, Mr. Supery.
Alighting from the car, we pass by the weight station and see evidence from the empty pink donut boxes that our early morning donuts have indeed been consumed.
Josh and I have a quick meeting upstairs in the gorgeously designed second floor tasting and entertaining area to discuss some of the finer points of the vineyard.
Dollarhide has more than 1500 acres – 480 acres planted. The vineyards have 12 different soil types and many different sorts of clones of the same grapes. You will find different rootstocks as well, with the rootstocks specifically chosen to match either the soil or the grape. One of the key reasons for the different clones and rootstocks is to give the finished wine (an assemblage of different parcels) more complexity.
After meeting with Josh, I have the good fortune to be taken on a brief tour by assistant winemaker Brooke Langelius, whose beautiful French manicured nails with their gleaming white tips belies her expertise and exhaustive hard work in the cellar.
First we visit a sorting table, where red grapes are being sorted for a private customer. There are two sorting teams … one team of two on top and another six on the bottom. Though the de-stemming machine does a good job of removing the stems, ONLY perfect grapes are acceptable. So the sorters quickly pull out any grapes that fail to make the grade, and the result is a gleaming tank of perfectly round, gorgeously colored red grapes.
Once the tank is full, it is hoisted to the top of a giant steel tank and dumped inside. I climb the steel staircase and can see that the grapes are quick to begin fermentation.
We climb up another tall steel staircase to peer into a gigantic tank to see a pump over in action … the grape juice has to spray at a correct rhythm in order to cover all the grapes.
After climbing down (no heels this time, thankfully, as they poke through the spaces in the industrial steel steps) we zip over to an area near the lab, where an intern is taking samples from the days special picking (these are grapes that winemaker Michael Scholz needs to determine when to pick) and is crushing them by hand in a small crusher.
The intern pours the juice and grapes into a bucket, and another intern uses cheesecloth to cover a small lab bottle and strain the liquid inside. The analysis of this process will help Michael determine the right time to pick. Later, I discover that his prediction for the right time to pick is proven true by the analysis.
After this, Michael takes me on a tour of the fermenting juice … there are dozens of tanks of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and a few Chardonnay tanks (and Chardonnay barrels) happily bubbling away. The juice is newly fermented yet most taste delicious …. ‘happy yeasts’ as Brooke would say. Michael and Brooke scribble down numbers and taste and on a few tanks decide to lower or raise the temperature.
Lunch follows at the Mustard Grill with Josh, Emma, and PR maven Jenna Bergna – I had forgotten how great this restaurant is!
You will find many fruit trees on the Dollarhide and St. Supery estate, and many of this fruit ends up on the tables of the finest restaurants in the valley. I hear that Josh is a key player driving the fruit growing campaign, and at one time also raised pigs and chickens.
I counted 9 different varieties of figs on the St. Supery property, including both green and brown. Both varieties are incredibly delicious. Chef Marvin brings an old-fashioned basket to gather the figs for his preserve class and I'm only too happy to help. Of course the sunny warm weather is as delicious as the figs, and the goal is to gather the ripest figs that make an indentation on the skin when touched.
Once the figs are gathered we ourselves gather upstairs to the new test kitchen to see how fig preserves are made.
It begins with the figs, a reduction of figs and sugar, and voila! Fresh fig preserves!
Chef Marvin is an accomplished chef and even better, he has presented on television and explains his procedures in an easy to understand way. Chef Marvin is also an expert in creating pairings for the fig preserves … we have excellent examples of different St. Supery wines with both duck and cheese.
This was a fascinating class, largely due to the charm of both the estate grown figs and Chef Marvin’s mastery of matching the fruit to the wines. It may be possible to book this as a private event so email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.