Nearly one month has passed since I found time to pop in on John Dragonette and Brandon Sparks-Gillis, two of the three winemaker/owners of Dragonette Cellars in Buellton. What I missed: Documenting additional fermentation of the grenache and mourvedre grapes that comprise Dragonette Cellars' 2013 rosé. Both were harvested in recurring picks from Vogelzang Vineyard in Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara; the moniker of this particular Dragonette rosé is Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara.
By the time I made it back Oct. 18, those juices had been barreled down and were aging away.
In fact, all of the grapes harvested for the 2013 vintage were "in house," Dragonette said. "All of our fruit has been in for about 10 days."
"The rosé is now consolidated in barrels of varying sizes — some in barrels, some in (the larger) puncheons," Sparks-Gillis said. And the juices were fermented at varying temperatures; some via a cool fermentation and others without any temperature control, he added. The commonality: All utilized native yeasts.
The morning I visited, the two were pressing off about six tons of Dragonette's 2013 syrah from the John Sebastiano Vineyard.
Dragonette calls the 2013 harvest a "fast and furious" one, with several grape varietals reaching optimal ripeness within just a few weeks' time. Dragonette's first pick was sauvignon blanc Aug. 26 from Grassini Vineyard, and the harvesting wound up on Oct. 8 with grenache.
For comparison, Dragonette said, "This time last year, we were just picking grenache and syrah from Sebastiano Vineyard. This year, we're already pressing it."
"Since the entire season was a dry one," Sparks-Gillis said, the lack of rain and extra degree days culminated in a harvest that "broke records — by a long stretch," for being so abbreviated.
Missing from the weather picture were late-season heat spikes and rain, which can translate into sugar-ripe but unbalanced (immature) grapes, and a risk of cluster mildew.
The result: "Reasonable sugar levels — a little overripe, but good overall, and good phenolic maturity," Dragonette said.
As far as yields for their 2013 Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara rosé and two lots of sauvignon blanc (from Vogelzang and Grassini vineyards), the two estimated the 75 barrels destined for rosé will produce roughly 1,050 cases.
Dragonette's 2013 sauvignon blanc consists of about 30 Grassini barrels and 40 Vogelzang barrels, Sparks-Gillis noted.
The two said they anticipate bottling the finished rosé in March or April, and the sauvignon blancs between April and August.
Coming next: Back out West, with Lindley Wines
Copyright Laurie Jervis and www.centralcoastwinepress.com