In the Cellar with Kevin Hamel
W
elcome to the winery. Even though my job is making the wine and this is a cellar tour, you'll find that I talk a lot about the vineyards. That's because, as any honest winemaker will tell you, wine is really made in the vineyard.

Preston Vineyards is an estate winery - we grow all our own grapes. But this means more than that we control the viticulture, it means we are striving to make wines that reflect this particular place. To do that we had to choose grape varieties that are suited to our site. Since we're in Dry Creek Valley, we have to grow Zinfandel. But Zinfandel doesn't grow well on all of our soils. We're at the north end of the valley, the warm end, so that means no Chardonnay, no Pinot Noir. Sauvignon Blanc has long been a successful white variety and experiments begun in the late '70's proved that "Mediterranean" varietites like Syrah, Viognier, Mourvèdre and Barbera would also work well.

Two creeks - Peña and Dry - run adjacent to and through the ranch. Their meanderings as well as lowland upheavals and weathering of hillsides have given us a very diverse set of soils to work with. This is part of the reason we have planted sixteen different varieties on these 125 acres, spread across some forty vineyard blocks. We like to pick by taste, when the flavors are ripe, and so we sometimes pick only a portion of a block. This all adds up to a lot of small lots of wine...

...We may bottle 15 or so wines from any given vintage but that vintage may produce as many as 40 - 50 individual lots of wine. This obviously means we will do a lot of blending. Sometimes this is just a matter of blending different Zinfandel lots to make up the final product, or it may involve determining how to assemble the five varieties that make up the Faux. The goal is always the same though, to take the flavors grown in the vineyard and express them as wines that taste good and are fun to drink.

Preston Vineyards / 9282 West Dry Creek Road / Healdsburg, CA 95448 / (800) 305 -9707 / 707-433-3372



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