The clusters of white grapes arrive at the winery in small, individual, picking containers that protect the bunches from damage. The clusters are inspected and sorted, culling out any imperfect bunches or imperfect berries within the individual bunch. The whole bunches are taken directly to the press and gently pressed. For Sauvignon Blanc, a variety that is sensitive to oxygen, a protective blanket of carbon dioxide keeps the juice free of contact with damaging oxygen. Chardonnay juice can tolerate oxygen contact without any deleterious impact.
The white wines are 100% barrel fermented, using a combination of new and used French oak, as well as stainless steel barrels for a small select percentage of our Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. Chalk Hill's various strains of indigenous yeasts vie for supremacy in the fermenting process. This struggle provides layers of texture and nuance. Malolactic fermentation is allowed to soften the Chardonnay wine during its months in the cellar, while the Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris do not undergo malolactic fermentation. A prescribed regimen of bâtonnage, the periodic stirring of the lees in the barrel, serves to add texture and mouthfeel.
The amount of new or neutral French oak is carefully chosen to compliment the weight of the wine and add complexity. The finished wine goes to bottle as the most complete expression of the grape's potential.