What Happens in the Vineyards That Craft REAL CHARDONNAY?
Have you ever wondered what goes into crafting a great Chardonnay? In this vineyard tour, we explore what it takes to make real Chardonnay by diving into the vineyards with J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines' white winemaker, Kristen Barnhisel.
Growing up with a mother who worked at Simi Winery as a microbiologist, Kristen was exposed to wine culture from an early age. She became interested in white winemaking as an enologist, finding it challenging to balance acidity, freshness, and texture in the wines.
In J. Lohr Vineyards, located in the Arroyo Seco AVA in Monterey, California, there are about 10 different Chardonnay clones used in their wines. These clones are like different types of apples, each with their distinct flavors and characteristics. Clone 809, for example, is known for ripe orange and gardenia flavors, as well as fresh floral and white peach notes. The blending process involves combining various clones to complement and enhance each other's flavor profiles.
Monterey is an ideal location for Chardonnay due to its cool weather, morning and evening fog, and afternoon winds during the growing season. These winds shut down the vines' stomates (responsible for photosynthesis) for six to seven hours a day, extending the growing season and enhancing the acidity and texture of the grapes.
Another key feature of the Arroyo Seco AVA is its cobblestone-rich soil, which forces the vines to grow deep and maintain a balance between leaf growth and clusters. Too much leaf growth can lead to mildew and botrytis, while too little can cause sunburn on the fruit and create harsh tannins in the wine.
J. Lohr Vineyards produces its Chardonnay in 90 to 100 different lots, each representing different blocks or parts of blocks within the vineyard. These blocks have varying exposures, elevations, sunlight, and wind, all contributing to the unique characteristics of each wine.
To experience the art of crafting great Chardonnay, explore the vineyard tour series with J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines, and discover what it takes to create a truly exceptional bottle of wine. Cheers!