Wild Horse Winery & Vineyard, named for the wild mustangs that used to roam the hills above the vineyard, has been an icon since 1983 as California’s Central Coast luxury winery. California’s Central Coast is the largest American Viticultural (science, production, and study of grapes) Area with home to 360 wineries. Since Day 1, practicing sustainability has been a part of the winemaking process – weeding is done by their Barbados sheep and Floyd the llama, recycling winery wastewater for irrigation; planting covering crops to attract beneficial insects, control erosion, and increase nitrogen in the soil; mixing grape pomace (solid remains of grapes after pressing) with manure to produce high-quality compost; and providing homes for owls who patrol the vineyards for rodents and other pests.
2012 Chardonnay process began with grapes picked in the early morning to ensure coolness and delivered directly to the press to gently squeeze the fresh juice. After settling in a tank overnight, the juice was moved to another tank for yeasting – 70% went into new and neutral French oak barrels to attain a full and creamy mouthfeel associated with sur lies (leaving the wine in contact with its lees or yeast particles) stirring and 30% in stainless steel to accentuate the bright citrus and apples notes. The Chardonnay was aged for nine months before blending (97% Chardonnay, 2% Verdelho, and 1% Malvasia Bianca) and bottling. Aromatics experienced were lemon, and pineapple. Flavors experienced were green apple, citrus, and yet smooth with a touch of sourness. Possible food pairings would be aged cheese, citrus-marinated chicken, and grilled salmon. Thumbs up!
2011 Cabernet Sauvignon process began with a 50-50 split of Monterey and Paso Robles grapes delivered in the cool morning hours. The grapes were gently crushed with varying amounts of whole berries and then pumped into both open- and closed-topped fermentation tanks. They were yeast inoculated (yeast poured into the must) and then pumped over two times per day during primary fermentation. Pressing occurred 10-20 days after yeast inoculation. The wine was racked (siphoned off the sediments or lees) of heavy solids to barrels for the completion of the malolactic fermentation (tart-tasting malic acid that is naturally present in grape must is converted to softer-tasting lactic acid). The wine was aged in a mix of French, American, and Hungarian barrels and racked twice during its 14-month cellar life. Aromatic experienced was red berries. The Cabernet was very subtle with no particular highlights in flavor. Possible food pairings would be steak or pasta with marinara sauce.
2011 Merlot process is very similar to the Cabernet Sauvignon with only a 12-month cellar life. Aromatic experienced was dark cherry. Flavors experienced were blackberry, raspberry, and cherry with slight bitterness. Possible food pairings would be pasta with spicy marinara, short ribs, and grilled lamb.
Open 359.5 days a year, stop by the winery for a tasting and tour. Say hi to Floyd and his new baby boy, Salvador!
Wild Horse Winery & Vineyard
1437 Wild Horse Winery Court
Templeton, CA 93465
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