Columbia Crest Crowdsourced Cabernet 2014

May 29, 2015
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What techniques should we use?

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Old World techniques: The wine will showcase nuances of the terroir (where the grapes were grown) with a lighter-body with tart fruit flavors and bright acidity.


A balance of New and Old: We would stay respectful of the fruit, but we’d build flavor, complexity and texture using some New World techniques.


New World techniques: The focus would be on crafting a complex, full-bodied wine with ripe, concentrated fruit flavors that’s rich in texture and higher in alcohol.


Should we rack and return frequently?

This will create a wine with soft tannins and complex texture as the cap remains cooler for longer periods of time.

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During fermentation the cap will be hotter, which will deliver more tannins and a denser wine.

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What Cap Management Technique Should We Use?

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Pump Over: We would pump juice from the bottom of the tank up over the top of the cap making a wine that’s very gentle and delicate.


Punch Down: With this technique we push the cap down into the juice to extract flavor. Wines made with this technique are gentle but layered.


Rack and Return: We remove all of the juice from the fermenter and then return it all back through the cap. This makes a really complex wine with lots of texture.


How complex do you want your wine?

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Clean with a fruit focus. This would be an elegant wine with a clean bouquet, it would be very sharp and respectful of the fruit.


Well balanced. We would strive to build complexity, but not lose the fruit focus creating an even wine.


Very complex with lots of nuance. This is a wine that seems different with every sip, with lots of aging potential.


Fermentation Prep: Should we rely on natural yeast?

Natural yeast provides more nuanced and complex flavors, but is more unpredictable.

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Our own blend of yeast is more predictable (it will ferment all the sugar) and will create a more fruit focused wine.

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Harvest Prep: When should we harvest?

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Harvest at 21-23 Brix (12 - 13% Potential Alcohol): At this level of Brix the wine will be more rustic and herbal with great aging potential.


Harvest at 24-25 Brix (13 - 14% Potential Alcohol): Within this range the wine will have riper flavors with more texture (think cherries vs. fresh herbs).


Harvest at 26-27 Brix (14 - 15% Potential Alcohol): At this point the grapes will create a dark rich wine with silky tannins and a long finish.


Harvest at 28-29 Brix (Over 15% Potential Alcohol): At this level or higher the wine might be closer to a port with a sweeter perception and silky texture.


What percentage of New Oak should we use?

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100% new oak will create a rich concentrated wine with lots of aromas and flavors coming from the barrel, caramel, mocha, tobacco, and dark chocolate covered cherries.


At 60% the wine will have characters extracted from new oak like the ones mentioned above, but also will show some fruit components coming exclusively from the grapes.


With 30% the wine will have more fruit driven bouquet, think raspberries and blueberries, perhaps with some flowery tones as the oak components are more subtle.


Fermentation Prep: Which fermenter should we use?

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Concrete Fermenter: This open cube allows for the greatest contact between the juice and the cap (skins that float to the top).


Stainless Steel: This fermenter gives us the chance to punch the cap down creating more gentle tannins taken from the skins.


Conical stainless steel: The shape of the walls keep the cap under pressure, tannins and color tend to be darker and richer.


Oak Fermenter: This fermenter integrates oak at the very beginning of the fermentation process, and doesn’t transfer heat.


Fermentation Prep: How many days should we cold soak the juice?

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By not cold soaking fermentation will have a sharp fruit focus.


Soaking for 2 to 4 days will allow for tannins to soften and will build complexity.


A longer soak between 4 and 5 days will create a more nuanced wine with much softer tannins.


At 6 to 7 days the wine may be more mellow, but undesirable microbes could take over fermentation.


Fermentation Prep: Should we crush the berries?

Crushing the fruit allows for the extraction of color, aromas, and flavors to start immediately.

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Not crushing will create a fruitier wine as we start fermentation with whole berries.

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Harvest Prep: Should we optically sort our grapes?

Using the optical sorter will take out all imperfect berries and pieces of leaves and stems.

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Not sorting the grapes will leave in extra plant matter, adding interesting flavors during fermentation and texture in the final wine.

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Harvest Prep: Should we harvest at night?

When we harvest in October, a night harvest will keep the grapes cooler as they move into fermentation, this can make a more complex wine, but could also put the wine at risk.

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With a daytime harvest the fruit will be a lot warmer, so fermentation will happen more quickly, which gives us more control over the wine.

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Should we irrigate this week?

It’s been a warm couple of days, watering will help keep the fruit cool and allow the plant to absorb nutrients.

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This will stress the vine and could cause some fruit to dry, but the fruit that survives will be stronger, which can lead to a better wine.

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Should we remove fruit?

Removing grapes that haven’t reached full maturity will mean that the fruit harvested will have a more concentrated flavor.

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Leaving unripe clusters of grapes on the vine means that there will be a more plentiful yield, but the immature grapes could add leafy flavors.

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Tons Of Grapes


Brix At Harvest


Number of Barrels


Cases To Be Made


Field Notes

Over the last couple of months the temperature has been warmer than our average…

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On Location


Head Winemaker

Juan picked his first grapes at age 8 working with his grandfather, a cellar master at Bodegas Toso in Argentina. His worldwide experience brought him to our vineyards on his mission to champion Washington reds. He now oversees our entire portfolio of Reserve, H3, and Grand Estates wines.


Vineyard Manager

The 2014 vintage will mark Juan’s 30th year with us. He has worked his way up from a harvest worker, learning everything there is to know about our vineyard, which is why we trust him to supervise all of our day-to-day operations.