Back in High School, I played in a band with my old friend Mike Hirby. He is now a winemaker and owner of his own wine label, Relic Wines located in Napa Valley, CA. Currently, he makes his wines and is involved with many other wine making projects at the Hunnicutt winery. I had the privilege of having a personal tour with the man himself in the 15,000 square foot wine cave.
Hunnicutt is a fairly new winery and the facilities opened up in 2011. The 15,000 square foot wine cave was all dug out with a machine then spraycrette lined to reinforce the walls to prevent any cave ins. The back wall in the photo below on the left is what the actual bedrock looks like. The photo on the right is the used drill bit heads that were used in the drilling process of making the cave.
Now onto the good stuff! The whole reason why we were there, to taste the wines that Mike has been making! It is vacation for me and I am seeing an old friend so I will not lie, I was not spitting and by the time we were done, I was feeling pretty good!
Next up, try the Rose of Granache which will be on Relics Label "The Archive" This is aging in stainless steel barrels for about two months before they bottle it. Yes Please!
Now onto the Reds! Mike being the winemaker that he is, was full of knowledge! One of the 1st reds that we sampled was an Old Vine Carignane, grown by Al Frediani who is 93 years old and when his father bought the property in 1906, the vines were already growing on the property.
It was a great education as I always knew that there is much that goes into making wine. The last lot of wine we tasted, the 2012 Relic "Artifact" Cabernet Sauvignon. It was being aged in different barrels. We tried three different barrels and each one of them had its own unique qualities to it. Barrel Making is an art all in it's own. Coopers are what you call Barrel Makers. Mike was telling stories about how one of the Coopers he knows, would actually go to the woods before the trees were cut for auction and judging by the way the tree was growing, he would know and mark the best trees. Then at auction, he would buy the right trees early on before all the cheaper wood would come up. Another process that also changes the flavors in the wines are the toasting of the barrels. Some longer, some shorter, more char.... It all makes a difference.