2022 Hanna Colombard 750ml
Vineyard: Extra grapes elicit no delight in a large harvest’s weary end, but local vineyard owner and trucking magnate Butch Cameron’s late October 2016 call offering a couple of tons of Russian River Colombard got me in my truck fast. Once an important cultivar in Sonoma County, it now exists only in a few remnant plots amounting to fewer than 10 acres. I had made Colombard from the Ukiah and Anderson Valleys years ago and enjoyed its enigmatic combination of vibrancy and neoteny- it’s not that it aged well, rather that it simply stayed young.
The River Road vineyard was mud slicked and pushing grass from a recent rain. It was easy to spot the 50-year-old monsters with leathery leaves and football sized clusters. The fruit was tart, low sugar and delicious. We made a deal on the spot.
We now harvest most of this historic block. Every visit is a trip back to the 60s, when viticulture was a far less fussy affair. The wine itself is bright, aromatic and low alcohol--deliciously ethereal. The Oxford Companion to Wine’s Jancis Robinson wrote of Colombard, “It would take some sorcery to transform Colombard into an exciting wine.” Time is the sorcerer, and we are happy to be the medium.
Russian River Valley 2022: October 2021 brought an atmospheric river event that recharged the soil profile. This led to an even bud break – later than 2021 - strong early growth and a moderate crop. A Goldilocks summer, except for a Labor Day heat wave, resulted in even ripening and an early harvest. Our canopy management technique, which retains all the protective leaves, proved to be the perfect antidote to the dehydrating heat that damaged fruit in conventionally farmed vineyards. The Colombard was harvested on September 21, at 19.7° Brix, TA of 0.94 g/100 mL, and pH 3.22.
Winemaking: Our winemaking begins in the vineyard. We manage the canopies to achieve flavor enhancing filtered light from fruit set on. Harvesting is done at night by hand. We inoculated the Colombard, fermented it in stainless steel, and aged it in a Sonoma Cast Concrete tank (affectionately known as Petra) on the lees (which enhances the mouthfeel and keeps the wine fresh and bright) until four weeks before bottling.
Tasting Notes: With color and brilliance of a canary diamond, our Colombard skims across the palate as smoothly and satisfyingly as a well skipped stone. All the while it offers precisely defined yet delicate aromas and flavors of summer’s end, pear puree, golden crisp apple blossom, nutmeg, Eureka lemon and nasturtium. The experience ends as gracefully as it began, a gossamer veil descending enticingly (tasted 3-30-23).
Cameron Ranch in the Russian River Valley
Age of Vines
TA 0.76 g/100 mL
Residual Sugar 0.2%
Avg. Brix at Harvest 19.7
Harvest Date September 21, 2022
2 selected yeasts
Avg 55 °F
Length/Type of Aging
March 22, 2022
Number of Cases 183