Berry Sorting at Harvest
Each block is hand harvested. Harvest time is determined by quality and taste. The grapes are quadruple sorted to ensure no stems, under or overripe grapes or other foreign matter is processed into the wine. In order to do this, we use an optical sorter that uses a laser beam to analyze size, shape and color of the berries and sort out what is unnecessary. After the optical sorter, berries go to a sorting table where many hands sift through them one final time.
Alpha Omega does not inoculate with commercial yeast. Instead, we rely solely on the multiple natural strains of yeast which are naturally present on the grapes. Natural fermentation is slow because there are many different types of soft yeast in extremely small quantities. Natural fermentation stops in the winter when the yeast cells go into dormancy. Fermentation then continues in the spring when yeast cells wake up to complete the fermentation process.
Alpha Omega has the largest barrel fermentation program in the U.S. based on size of production. We barrel ferment most of our wines to make them more approachable in youth while still maintaining ageability. Barrel fermentation allows the wine to be in contact with French oak at an early stage so the integration of the oak is subtler. Most importantly, this early integration allows the tannins of both the grapes and the wood to soften and round, which presents an amazing mouth-feel at an earlier stage. Only French oak barrels are used at Alpha Omega, where 80% of the casks are new and none older than two years.
After Alpha Omega completes the barrel fermentation process, we allow the wine to sit on the skins of the grapes for an extended period. This occurs at a higher temperature with no punch-downs of the skins. The purpose of this extended post-fermentation maceration is to extract more color and to give the wines softer tannins and a richer mouth-feel.
Unfined & Unfiltered
Alpha Omega does not fine or filter any of the wines in the belief that these processes take away the natural components of the wine. Some wineries use fine and filtering as a precautionary measure to clarify the wine and remove any impurities. We believe our attention to detail throughout the winemaking process avoids these risks.
“If wine is made properly from the beginning, why would you have to change its structure and personality before bottling?”
- Jean Hoefliger
Each block of grapes within a vineyard is kept separate until blending. This includes separating barrel-fermented wine from tank-fermented wine and keeping the pressed wine separate from the free run wine. Our winemakers, Jean Hoefliger and Michel Rolland, taste over 200 different wines to find the perfect blend.
Jean and Michel blend four times per year. First, they blind taste each lot. Then they begin blending to create wines with balance, finesse, power and elegance. Working in tandem, the two talented winemakers visualize how different lots will interact to bring a more layered, integrated and complex end product.