Old wooden riddling racks were set-up around the second floor room of Domaine Carneros, overlooking the winery below. CEO, Eileen Crane, handed everyone a glowing flute of Domaine Carneros Ultra Brut to enjoy as she explained how the riddling process works.
“The traditional method was to turn each bottle in the riddling rack by a set amount each day until all of the yeast from the second fermentation in bottle fell to the top lip of the bottle. In this way, it could be frozen and then easily ejected.”
There were oohhs and aahhs from the thirty SSU wine business students attending the field trip, both over the delicious sparkling wine in their glass as well as the large riddling racks set up before them.
Eileen continued, “Today, however, we use gyropallets to gently rotate the wine.” She pointed to the large picture windows with their clear view into the vast winery with its array of gyropallets – huge robotic machines that looked like large metal baskets filled with sparkling wine bottles.
About Domaine Carneros
Established in 1987, the estate includes with their 225 acres of pinot noir and 125 acres of chardonnay in the Carneros AVA. It is owned by the House of Tattinger in Champagne, and the beautiful chateau is modeled after the Tattinger chateau in France.
The winery is known for its environmentally friendly practices, and has one of the largest arrays of solar panels installed in a winery in the USA. They also have multiple certifications, including the California Sustainable Wine Growing Certification and Fish Friendly Farming.
A Taste of Sparkling Magic
In addition to the delectable 2012 Ultra Brut tasted during the winery tour, two additional wines were served in a private salon, along with generous bowls of mixed nuts. A fruity 2013 Brut Rose with bright strawberry and cherry notes, as well as the 2013 Domaine Carneros Estate Pinot Noir with notes of spice, dried cheery and subtle oak.
By the end of the tour, Domaine Carneros had made many new fans, and it was a great introduction to one of Napa Valley’s famous sparkling houses.