Chehalem Winery in Newberg, Oregon has been in the Rosé game since 2013, using Pinot Noir grapes to craft the pink wine that’s long been a warm weather favorite.
With nine years under their belts, Vice President of Winemaking Melissa Burr said the winemaking team has had plenty of time to discover what does and doesn’t work.
One thing they worked to do was solve the problem of high sugar and unpredictable color.
“Initially, we made rosé by draining juice from Pinot Noir tanks that were fermenting into red wine,” Burr said. “That juice extracted color and flavor; however, it was typically higher in sugar — targeted for making red wine Pinot Noir — than we aim for making Rosé. Additionally, the amount of color and tannin extracted with this method was unpredictable.”
The solution? Treating the Rosé as its own wine rather than sourcing from fermenting Pinot Noir tanks. Direct pressing whole clusters of Pinot noir ensures minimal extraction of tannins, light color, and high-quality juice to ferment into rosé, Burr said.
“Ultimately, we wanted to control the process of making rosé as much as possible; we farm for it in the vineyard, grow the Pinot Noir specifically for the program and pick it earlier than we would for red wine as direct whole cluster pressing,” Burr said. “It’s been a benefit for us to have had so many years of making Rosé before the trend of ‘rose all day’ became popular so we could dial in our style.”
Winemaker Katie Santora compared the Rosé-making process to that used in making white wines.
“We whole-cluster press the fruit to mitigate any phenolic extraction and minimize color,” Santora said. “By going straight to press, we are able to capture the delicate nuances that sometimes can be overshadowed by too much texture or phenolics.”
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