When appropriate, Hildebrand will utilize native yeast. He bases this decision, to ferment on indigenous (native) yeast versus commercial yeast, on several factors, chief among them are temperature, nutrient levels and PH as he doesn’t have warming or chilling equipment to adjust temperature once fermentation begins. All red grapes are fermented in half-ton bins with two hand-punch downs daily. During fermentation each bin is protected by a fabric cover to shield the fermenting must from fruit flies and any other surprise intruders.
White wines are gently moved from press to barrel for fermentation and allowed to age “sur lie” in barrel – post fermentation, with monthly topping – for five to six months until bottling. Red wines finish fermentation in French or American oak barrels where, depending on the wine, the barrels are racked three times during their eleven to eighteen months cellar time before bottling. White wines are released six months to two years after vintage date and red wines continue to age in the cellar, up to two to four years, in some cases, before release.
All Narrow Gate wine styles reflect Frank’s and his wife Teena’s love of Rhone varietals and classic French blends. They make what they love to drink. Originally focused on classic Rhone red and white varietals: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Petite Sirah, Viognier, Roussanne and Vermentino, their flagship Chateauneuf du Pape style blend, Dunamis, and Cote Rotie style co-ferment, Syrah Viognier, are great examples of their commitment to emulate the grand blends found in France’s Rhone Valley.
However they were smart and took the advice of a wine industry friend who insisted they not forsake classics that “the world loves to drink”: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Primitivo and Zinfandel, the celebrated varietal of the Sierra Foothills, as well as Portuguese varietal dessert ports.