Over the last several decades, California winemakers have enjoyed experimenting with an ever expanding repertoire of new techniques, methods for vinification and systems for elevage.

Some of these approaches are barrel fermentation (now en vogue for red wines, too), using a significant percentage of new oak barrels (or using oak adjuncts, sometimes in conjunction with micro-oxygenation), foregoing filtration and perhaps most fundamentally, how to best achieve the desired result of converting grape juice into wine - i.e. fermentation.

Since the early 80’s several divergent schools of thought have emerged - using the tried and true yeast strains, or using no yeast inoculation at all and what we like to think of as the enlightened middle ground - selecting specific yeasts which have been isolated from various successful fermentations to achieve a variety of desirable and consistently predictable outcomes.  We select from amongst the many dozens of selections available (perhaps there are a hundred or more?) to accomplish the following:

  • reliable, controllable fermentation to dryness; at the temperatures and rates we seek
  • less efficient conversion of sugar to alcohol; to craft lighter wines in a European style 
  • fruit enhancing; to heighten aromas and broaden flavors for more complexity
  • body enhancing; to increase the mouth feel and lengthen the finish
  • suppression factor; eliminate unwanted competitive yeast strains
  • low producers of volatile acidity; to avoid any acetic character
  • color stability; to retain a more vivid visual impact

And truth be told, we have another important (and self-satisfying) reason in making these selections - we constantly strive to better understand and appreciate the often surprisingly complex range of effects yeast has on the resultant wines character, which goes far beyond a simple conversion of sugar to alcohol.