As a winemaker, Sarah strives to create powerful and complex wines with a smooth finish. Her goal is to craft a product that appeals to consumers of all ages. To achieve this balance, she creates wines with soft tannins and full structure. Throughout the process she relies on her palate and makes wine that is pleasing to her. The mentality is to create a wine that tastes good to her, because if no one buys it, she and Brice have to drink it!
At harvest, the grapes are sorted to eliminate foliage and unripe clusters. The grapes are 100% de-stemmed and crushed to stainless steel tank. These tanks are triple jacketed, thus allowing the winemaker complete control of the must temperature throughout the fermentation process. The cold soaking is used for pre-maceration to develop more fruit characteristics. Hotter temperatures are used for fermentation and post-maceration to obtain elegant and stable tannins.
For white varietals, Serrano cold soaks and leaves the grapes on the skins for 36 hours before pressing and immediately putting to barrels. Primary and malolactic fermentation take place in lightly toasted, new French oak barrels. The wine is stirred on the lees once a week for at least 11 months. This process allows for expression of the fruit, while also providing rich tannins, creamy mouthfeel, and toasted vanilla characteristics to the wine.
Red varietals are pumped over up to 5 times a day during fermentation, and will remain on the skins for up to 40 days (our personal record) before being pressed and put to barrel. These wines will age in a mixture of French and American oak from 12-36 months, depending on the wine and taste.
Blending is utilized in basically all of the wines (except Viognier). Blending increases the complexity and interest of each wine as a whole. Serrano believes in minimal non-organic manipulation to the wines, and blending creates different flavor profiles and characteristics. Serrano refuses to add any artificial acid or supplement to alter the product.
Aging and maturation in oak barrels
Aging in oak consistently ensures the subtle exposure to oxygen. Only barrel aging can enhance the fruit and terroir while adding delicate toasted vanilla notes and round tannins. We believe oak reveals the authenticity of a wine, without ever being dominant. Each day, the wine becomes more refined, expressive, and full bodied in the barrel. It also provides a flavor profile Sarah personally loves: vanilla, smoke, toast, and caramel, among others. Both French and American oak are used, and both light and medium toast, depending on varietal. We age in different size vats, ranging from 59 gallon barrels to 600 gallon foudres, with hogsheads, demi-muids, and puncheons in between. White wines age for 11-12 months and the red wines age anywhere between 18-36 months.