FRANCISCAN ESTATE CRAFT
DEVOTION IS IN THE DETAILS
High-Craft, high-touch meticulous winemaking is at the core of everything we do. We are dedicated to exploring, developing, and mastering artisanal techniques to create the perfect glass of wine in every vintage. This constant drive for perfection defines all that we do.
Founding winemaker Justin Meyer wanted to understand the nuance of vineyard sites and how wine matured over time. He diligently laid out our estate vineyard into small blocks to capture the unique microclimates and soil changes. Each block was separately fermented and cellared. The wine was only blended once it had properly evolved. This small lot approach resulted in wines of unmistakable character that highlighted the nuances of every vineyard block and vintage.
This intensely personal approach to winemaking has permeated our culture. It's an ongoing pursuit toward perfection that always has our master winemakers close to the fruit, re-examining techniques, exploring new methods, and finding better ways to bring out the ultimate expression of the vineyard. Each winemaker confidently builds on the foundations of those who came before, adding their own unique flavor to the Franciscan legacy. This spirit has inspired all that we produce, from introducing wild yeast fermentation to being a pioneer in the Napa Valley for Bordeaux style blends; our unwavering devotion to the craft and dedication to the details has driven all that we have done and continue to do.
THE CRAFT OF DEVOTION
SMALL LOT WINEMAKING
At Franciscan Estate, our wine lots are kept separate from the vineyard until just before bottling. After picking by hand, every load of grapes is assigned its own tank, sized to just match the vineyard block. With no need to turn tanks quickly for another batch, each lot can be crafted slowly, in its own time, for maximum flavor expression. This effectively creates a collection of limited-production wines with each vintage.
Every lot of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and blending varieties Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and Petite Verdot is nurtured with pre-fermentation cold soak for up to four days; this gives deep, rich color and texture to our wines. Following fermentation, the wines are allowed to further macerate on the skins, a total of 20-30 days, to develop smoother tannins, full body, and a silky mouthfeel. This level of detail requires continuous monitoring. Winemaker Janet Myers and her team evaluate every lot, every day during fermentation.
Like the red wines, Chardonnay is also handled with close attention to detail. The majority of the Chardonnay lots are fermented using wild yeasts, which requires constant attention but lends sublime complexity to the wine. The handful of lots selected for the Cuvée Sauvage Chardonnay blend are 100% wild yeast fermented, with hand-stirring throughout extended sur lies aging.
As an agriculture-based company, environmental issues are not only important to us – they are an essential component to our continued growth and success. Because we rely on the land for our livelihood, it is critical that Franciscan Estate does all it can to ensure clean water, air and soil at all of the properties we operate. Our aim is to look for ways to improve the environment, while also minimizing our impact.
In our facilities we have implemented several projects that have led to a 15% decline in water consumption, an energy reduction of 15%, and cut gas usage by 22%. Additionally we have been certified as Napa Green, which is the wine industry's most comprehensive "best practices" in land-use and wine production certification. On top of all of this, all of our wine is produced in a Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing winery.
Our conservation efforts are not only in our facilities but also in our vineyards where we are working to make our vineyards as environmentally friendly as possible. The Franciscan Oakville Estate vineyard utilizes a year-round reservoir to store water. The water is used during cold spring nights to protect the vines from frost. It also serves as a habitat for some of the native flora and fauna. We worked with the Audubon Society to develop this habitat, and today partner with International Bird Rescue, which utilizes the pond to release rehabilitated birds into this protected habitat. Our vineyards are certified as a Fish Friendly Farming site in Napa Valley. We have reduced the need of pesticides by planting insectary hedgerows alongside select vineyards to promote beneficial insects. Owl, raptor, bluebird, and bat houses have been strategically placed throughout the vineyards as part of our natural vermin control.