The majority of our wines are made from the fruit we grow on site. While many winemakers will select vineyards for their variety of fruit and locations, Keith has invested in raising his vines for his own winemaking style. Once the fruit is picked, he often chooses long extended fermentation times using both native and selected yeasts for the reds. Before fermentation, there are typically extended periods of cold soaking, and post-fermentation there is often extended time on the skins. These choices are essential to producing wines with huge depth and structure; high levels of fine, well behaved tannins; and an intense fruit core.
Specially Engineered Winery
The production facility is designed for gently handling our carefully farmed fruit via gravity flow, eliminating all pumps that might induce flavor degrading shear-- a fancy way of saying we don't agitate the wine when it goes from barrel to bottle. The entire grape handling, crushing, and pressing operations have been designed to gently handle our fruit and maximize wine quality.
Barrel Program and Aging
Keith has worked with more than two dozen coopers to select the very best French Oak barrels for our fruit. Many barrels are custom-made; many barrels are made of staves from different forests. We also specify custom toast levels to optimize the barrels for specific blocks of fruit from out estate vineyard. Years of careful trials and refinements of our barrel program have allowed us to get the integration of the barrel and fruit flavors such that the fruit really shine, with the barrels playing an important supporting role. Keith likes to age his wines longer than some, with typical times in the barrels ranging from a low of 18 months to as long as 32 months. This slower aging process allows us to get the oak extraction we desire from the barrels without overpowering the fruit with excessive new oak or harsh oak flavors.
The blending of individual barrels to create the wines that Keith makes is really the artistic part of the winemaker's job. With assistant winemaker Randy Swanson and cellar master Javier Mendoza, Keith typically tastes through all of the blending trials for the wines. The blending trials for a single wine can often take several months of daily tastings to perfect the blend. Many hours of systematically trying different blends for each of the wines often results in a sea of glasses with typically very small but significant differences to evaluate. When specific, desired traits have been selected from the current trials, the next blending trial will continue to refine the blend until Keith and his winemaking team are completely satisfied with the finished wine.
To get our carefully-grown, fermented, aged, and blended wines into the bottle, Terra Blanca owns a state-of-the-art bottling line that allows us to have complete control of when and how we choose to bottle each wine. Our bottling line is also a gravity flow line, allowing us to continue the gentle treatment of the fruit and wines that has occurred all the way through the production process.
Once the wines are bottled, we prefer to allow our huge structured Red Mountain reds to have a minimum of one year in the bottle. Keith designs his red wines to have the structure, tannins, and depth to last for well over 20 years. Terra Blanca has been producing Red Mountain estate grown wines since 1997, and those first wines are still in their youth…just think of what the future holds!