by MARK ST.J. COUHIG
Making wine is both an art and a science.
Just ask David Volmut, winemaker-in-chief for Wind Rose Cellars, Sequim’s newest winery.
Volmut, co-owner of the winery with his wife, Jennifer States, is now putting a big pile of grapes through their paces at the couple’s home winery, processing about 15 tons of Washington fruit into products that will in time bear Wind Rose’s label.
A mixture of barbera grapes from Red Mountain, orange muscat from the Yakima Valley, as well as dolcetto, nebbiolo, pinot grigio, and viognier grapes are the source materials for Wind Rose’s Italian-style wines, which include a hearty nebbiolo, a rich bravo rosso and a barbera rosé that is as enjoyable to the eye as to the palate. (Those who eschew rosé for its cloying sweetness will find this one a revelation.)
It all sounds simple enough: “It’s just grapes, yeast and juice,” said Volmut.
But it takes skill and knowledge at every step.
For example, choosing the grapes, which requires not just a discerning eye but a philosophy: “Our wine style is to let the grower and Mother Nature do their work,” David wrote on the company’s website. “The decision to pick is not … sugar content related, but more on flavor development and seed maturity. The grapes we use tend to retain more of their acidity than most grapes, such as Bordeaux or Rhone varietals, so the wines tend to be more crisp and fruit-forward by design.”
And then there is the question of barrels, which Volmut answers with neutral French oak: “Neutral barrels tend to hold onto these flavors and allow a roundness to develop. The natural tannins found within the grape skins themselves offer structure and elegance,” he said.
More simply put, Volmut said his barrels produce a wine with “less oak, and more fruit flavor.”
Technique and technology
The wine-making process is technology intense.
Volmut first utilizes the crusher at Olympic Cellars to process the grapes, which then undergo a two-day “cold soak” as they are left outside in tanks through Sequim’s cool fall nights and days.
The red grapes are then placed in large vats and placed in the winery’s fermentation room for seven to 10 days. The room is kept at 70-75 degrees, which is warm enough to excite the yeast — and to fill the air with a wonderful fragrance.
The white grapes are kept in a chiller.
The result is wine, which Volmut tests in the winery lab for appropriate levels of sugar, acids, pH and alcohol.
It’s then bottled, corked and aged for long as 18 months in the “cellar” side of the winery, which is kept at 55 degrees.
Wind Rose’s beautiful labels are all designed by Volmut and produced by the talents at Sequim’s Inside Out.
The result, at least from the 2011 “crush,” is 800 cases of wine. Volmut hopes to grow to 1,200 cases annually, but is in no hurry, saying he wants to take his time and do it right.
Now it’s time to taste the results.
Wind Rose Cellars will re-open its tasting room at 155 W. Cedar St., Suite B, in Sequim Saturday, Nov. 12, just in time for Thanksgiving, and will keep it open through Christmas. The re-opening will also introduce two new varieties: a nebbiolo, which Volmut describes as “a big bold red wine — it’s kind of Italy’s cabernet,” He will also add another barbera. Both have aged 22 months in oak.
In the meantime, Wind Rose Cellars’ brava rosso and barbera rosé are available in Sequim at the Red Rooster grocery, and with your meals at the Alder Wood Bistro and Jeremiah’s Barbecue. Or order it online at www.windrosecellars.com.
Reach Mark Couhig at email@example.com.