Since our first release back in 1982, Gary Farrell Winery Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays have remained benchmarks of the region: elegant, complex expressions of their Russian River Valley vineyard origins. The winery continues to nurture founder Gary Farrell’s legacy of producing small lots of varietally expressive and regionally distinctive Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays.
Winemaker Theresa Heredia
joined the winery in 2012 with a keen appreciation for our house style, which emphasizes elegance and balance. With an intimate knowledge of cool-climate winemaking and a passion for exploration, Theresa carries on this legacy, continuing a 30-year spirit of innovation and inspiration in our cellar. Under Theresa’s leadership, winemaking protocols are slowly expanding, capturing the Gary Farrell house style while evolving the wines to achieve enhanced depth, textural richness, site specificity and weight by bringing in new artisan winemaking techniques, such as:
- Extended Maceration – occasionally, after primary fermentation, the new wine is allowed to remain “on skins” anywhere from 7-14 days, which softens tannins, builds the mid-palate and adds depth and complexity.
- New Oak Puncheons (500 L) – facilitates integration of oak aromas and flavors by providing a larger juice or wine to oak ratio
- New Oak Tank (5 ton) – provides a completely different thermodynamic profile as compared to stainless steel, allowing for warmer, natural ferments, gentle extraction and integration of whole cluster characteristics without over-expression of “stemmy” flavors
- % Whole Cluster Fermentation – contributes tannin, backbone and spice, while also enhancing the expression of site specificity
- Lees Management – enhances fruit essence while bringing power and persistence to palate
- New Barrel Coopers – including Chassin, Cavin, Ana-Sélection and Ermitage
- Native Yeast Fermentation – contributes complexity and enhances expression of vineyard characteristics
- Foot Treading – a gentle maceration technique that breaks up berries to release tannin without over-extraction
Gary Farrell Winery Chardonnays offer lush citrus and tropical fruit tones balanced by bright acidity, while our Pinot Noirs nail the sweet spot of the varietal’s broad ripeness spectrum, displaying bright red fruit aromas, vibrant black cherry and berry flavors, and seductive sandalwood and Asian spice tones. These core wines, along with limited-production releases of additional varietals, are crafted according to winemaking protocols the winery has been perfecting for the past 30 years.
The Chardonnays are whole-cluster pressed to tank and settled overnight if necessary. Then the juice is racked off the heavy solids, taking only the desired percentage of light, fluffy lees. After the juice is fermented 100% in French oak barrels and puncheons, it goes through full malolactic fermentation, and is aged on primary lees, with weekly stirring during fermentation and monthly thereafter, for 7 to 8 months before bottling.
The Rochioli, Allen and Westside Farms vineyards provide Gary Farrell Winery with older heritage clones as well as a diverse array of French Dijon clones supplying the mixture of rich fruit and bright acidity for which the winery’s Chardonnays are renowned. Additional vineyards round out the blends, adding texture and depth to our Russian River Selection blend.
After an extreme sorting process in both the vineyard and winery to cull only the very best clusters, the Pinot Noir clusters are de-stemmed. The grapes are then gently conveyed from the sorting table to tank without any pumping into small (4- and 7-ton) jacketed open-top fermenters with a 5-7 day cold soak, which is followed by a slow, cool fermentation with two to three daily punch downs. After fermentation is complete, the new wine is then drained, the remaining solids are gently pressed settled and racked, malolactic bacteria is added and the wine is transferred to light- and medium-toast French oak barrels from our top Burgundian coopers. The Russian River Valley Selection typically ages for 10 months in barrel while the single-vineyard Pinot Noirs may spend up to 15 months in oak. In both cases, the wines are racked only once before bottling.
Sauvignon Blanc grapes are whole-cluster pressed to tank and settled overnight. The juice is racked off the heavy solids, while the best lees are selected for optimum stainless steel tank fermentation. A small portion of juice is transferred to older, neutral oak barrels for partial barrel fermentation, which is intended to soften the grassy notes, while adding body and texture to the finished wine. The juice only spends a short time in these neutral oak barrels, so that oak characteristics are not incorporated into the wine, then the fermenting must is transferred back into the main stainless steel tank until fermentation is complete. The Sauvignon Blanc does not undergo malolactic fermentation, ensuring the finished wine has tremendous natural acidity, crisp, fresh flavors and intense varietal character.
The Zinfandel grapes at Gary Farrell are treated very much like Pinot Noir. The goal is to capture varietal Zinfandel flavors and aromas, while creating a balanced, elegant wine, with fresh acidity and soft tannins. After a very careful sorting process, the grapes are transferred to tank as described above for Pinot Noir, and cold-soaked for 5 days. A slow, cool fermentation progresses for approximately a week, with thrice-daily punch downs, and then the new wine is drained, remaining solids are gently pressed, and only a small portion of the press wine is incorporated for structural enhancement and balance. The wine is then transferred to 40% new Francois Frérès, Nevers forest, medium toast oak barrels, where the wine is aged for up to 15 months.