"The Vineyard Always Comes First"
Winemakers Paul Scotto and Mitch Cosentino both agree wholeheartedly that before the first grape is brought to the winery 80% to 90% of the eventual wine's merit has been determined in the vineyard. No matter how skilled the winemaker is, the vineyard is the ultimate contributor to a wine's excellence.
Care in the vineyard is a painstaking task because there are no shortcuts where a premium wine is concerned. In conjunction with the grower and farmer, it is the winemaker's responsibility to ensure all the proper measures are taken from bud break to flowering, on to set, veraison and harvest, then to pruning in preparation for the coming season.
But vineyard quality rests not only with the vine itself. Care, experience and ingenuity must be exercised to guarantee the proper health of the soil so that each vine has all it needs to produce fruit worthy of a fine winemaker's talents. Here is where both Paul and Mitch rise to a level envied by others and equaled by few.
For J. McClelland Cellars only the finest vineyards are chosen based on their history of wines produced plus the meticulous attention paid to the soil and each vine. As Mitch says, "A visual inspection is important but tasting wines produced from the site, with a conscientious effort to separate winemaking influences, is paramount to determining the character of the vineyard."
As important as balance is to a wine's quality and appeal, it is also extremely important in the vineyard but often overlooked in the search of expedience and quantity over quality. Mitch and Paul look at the number of clusters per vine based on the terroir of each vineyard. Throughout the growing season they closely monitor the even spacing and consistency of ripeness in the clusters and drop any that overlap. Leaves are cautiously pulled when necessary to give each cluster the proper sunlight and laterals are removed to concentrate energy back to the vine.
Paul's overriding philosophy is "patience and letting the vineyard tell me what to do." Grapes are picked at optimal ripeness based on flavor and transported to the winery through the cool early morning hours where our winemaking philosophy will continue the journey.