The SOMM Journal

June / July 2018

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Page 69 of 132

{ } 53 That trend has started to shift with the recent development of the Gehricke brand: the company's first line of premium wines made exclusively with world-class grapes grown closer to home. According to Sebastiani, it's an evolution with purpose. "We are actively pursuing a transition of our portfolio and a pivot to our mission. I say that on a grand scale, especially when you talk about my family and where we've been with wine," he tells The SOMM Journal. "Over time it's been a multi-generation shift from agriculture, to branded jug wines that were specifically bottom-shelf retail, to my dad and his generation trading up to bottled wine and branding wine that was more premium in that regard as well." After several successful years spent testing the brand in the market, Sebastiani hired gifted winemaker Alex Beloz—who has worked with high-quality grapes from Sonoma County for nearly two decades—to take the label to the next level in 2015. The fruit for the Pinot Noir program comes from three properties located in the northwestern section of the Los Carneros AVA in southern Sonoma County. First is Martin Ranch, which is generally warm during the day but cools down rapidly in the mid-afternoon due to strong winds blowing in from the Petaluma Gap. Across the road is the Kiser Vine - yard, another premium site owned and farmed by Michael and Steve Sangiacomo of Sangia- como Family Vineyards. Newer to the fold is Rodgers Creek Vineyard, a high-elevation site that rests on the cusp of where the Petaluma Gap, Sonoma Coast, and Sonoma Mountain appellations intersect off of Highway 116 between Sonoma and Petaluma. While each of these sites contribute fruit from special Pinot Noir clones planted in clay- based soils, the grapes are influenced by slight variations of wind currents based on their location and row orientations, as well as the age of the vines. As a result, the Gehricke team keeps a close watch on each block to maximize the flavors at harvest, especially if there are any threats of heat spikes in the forecast. "To me, it's that 'bing' moment when I feel the fruit is ready to go," Beloz explains. "For that reason, there is a very small window of opportunity because I don't want the grapes to be underripe or suddenly overripe." Once picked, the fruit is initially tank-fermented. While Beloz likes to keep a small portion of the whole cluster intact, especially with the pristine Pommard clone fruit from the Kiser Vineyard, he also makes sure the impact isn't overly dominant in the finished blend. "While I like what it does, I still need to make sure the whole-cluster portion doesn't overpower the The Gehricke 2014 Pinot Noir from Los Carneros. The Gehricke 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Knights Valley AVA in Sonoma County. The Gehricke 2016 Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley.

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