As an outgrowth of the Terlato Family's commitment to quality, a new fermentation facility was recently built to increase the production of reserve red wines at Rutherford Hill. The Terlatos are totally focused on quality and made a significant investment in the reserve cellar to benefit all of our wines. This addition is an important step in the quest for excellence: Much as top-quality wines can only be made from top-quality fruit, superior wines require superior equipment. "The entire facility is state of the art," says Doug Fletcher, Vice President of Winemaking for Terlato Wine Group.
More than a quarter-century ago, Rutherford Hill was originally created to primarily produce tank-fermented wines, requiring that the original fermentation tanks be used several times a vintage. This necessity prevented the winemakers from creating the types of lush reserve wines - those that demanded the solitary use of one tank throughout a production season - envisioned by the Terlato family.
The Terlato family recognized that Rutherford Hill essentially needed to create a "winery within a winery" that would accommodate the increased quantity of wines they wanted to produce, particularly reserve vintages. An ideal solution to this production challenge was found in the creation of a state-of-the-art addition.
Here are the key facts about the facility:
- Completed by and functional for the 2000 harvest.
- Cost exceeded $4 million.
- Addition covers 5,100-square feet.
- Twenty-four operational fermentation tanks range from 1,500 to 6,000 gallons.
- Self-contained facility is equipped with its own press, refrigeration capabilities (tanks are jacketed for both warming and cooling glycol) and harvest crew.
Since 1996, several new long-term contracts have been established with growers representing some of Napa Valley's finest Merlot and Cabernet vineyards. Many of these vineyards are small but yield superb grapes. The establishment of these new fruit sources is an important indicator of the Terlatos emphasis on quality, and the new facility enables Rutherford Hill winemakers to lavish customized care on each vineyard's contribution. Simply because a wine is tracked for the "Reserve" process, however, doesn't guarantee it will make the final selection. Says Fletcher, "Only the very best juices that were originally intended for the Reserve Merlot Program are eventually blended into the reserve, with the remainder of the exceptional juice blended into the Napa Valley Merlot."
The Terlato Family's core philosophy - placing quality above all else - finds its newest expression beautifully embodied in the new "winery within a winery."