Doug Rafanelli grows Cabernet Sauvignon in a patchwork of vineyards dotting rugged hillsides on the west side of Dry Creek Valley. Labeling the soils there as “marginal” would be doing them a favor, as the vines struggle to support even 2 tons per acre in a good year.
This bottling was blended from two low yielding blocks, Terraces and Mary’s, lying on south-facing slopes above the big bend on West Dry Creek Road, near Lambert Bridge. The southern exposure on thin, well-drained, gravelly soils accelerates ripening, and these blocks of Cab are always first into the winery. Our Cabernet Sauvignon was painstakingly harvested by hand, its miniscule clusters and berries not even punching in at one and half tons to the acre. For this bottling, areas of the vineyard were isolated and separately crushed into one-ton fermenters. After 3 days of cold soak, a native fermentation began with wild yeasts. The cap was punched down three times per day through to the end of fermentation, and then pressed off immediately. The free run was racked to French oak for 22 months of aging, at which time 8 barrels (four new and four 2-year-old) were selected for this single vineyard bottling. The wine was bottled unfined.