Winemaking

The winemaking process starts with low-yielding, handpicked fruit from William Heritage estate vineyards. White wine grapes are harvested at optimum ripeness & whole-cluster pressed. The juice is fermented with selected yeast strains at cool temperatures to capture & enhance fresh fruit aromas & flavors. Wines are aged, typically 4-8 months, in stainless steel vessels or oak barrels to produce different styles. The reserve white program utilizes the more risky & time-consuming technique of barrel fermentation with French oak barrels.  This technique generates premium-quality varietals and single vineyard offerings.

For Heritage red wines, the goal is maximum capture & development of color & flavor. After harvesting at optimum ripeness, red grape clusters are de-stemmed and the grapes hand-sorted to remove any material not worthy of fermentation. The grapes are gently crushed & sent to stainless steel fermentation vessels where a small portion of juice is removed (a process called saignée or bleeding) to provide raw material for delicious Rosé wines.  The saignée method also allows for greater extraction, color and flavor in the primary red wines. Fermentation temperatures peak early at controlled levels to capture rich fruit flavors.

Extended macerations (juice & skin contact) follow to extract optimum color, flavor & tannin profiles. Red wines are separated from their skins to give both free-run & press fractions which are kept separate. Wines are aged exclusively in French oak barrels for 12-18 months. Judicious tastings & experience are used to determine various options for blending & ageing to enhance the wines before bottling.

Winemaking Team

Sean Comninos
Winemaker

Sean studied marine biology at the University of the Virgin Islands. After college he traveled Europe extensively, nurturing his passion and knowledge for wine. Sean graduated with the highest honors from the academic program at the Wine School of Philadelphia.

Sean Comninos has been producing fines wines at William Heritage Winery since the 2009 vintage. During his time with William Heritage, he has garnered high praise from wine critics and the media. His 2015 Brut Rosé received 90 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate and Wine & Spirits Magazine.    In addition, Sean’s 2015 BDX (Bordeaux-style blend) received 91 points from world renowned wine critic James Suckling.

 

Stéphane Derenoncourt
Vineyard Consultant

A French vigneron working as a consultant for numerous estates in Bordeaux and other wine producers worldwide. Stéphane is known for working with such producers as Château Larrivet Haut-Brion, Château

Smith Haut Lafitte, Château Talbot, Ingenook – Rubican Estate and others. Stéphane also made the list of “Top 10 Influential Wine Consultants” from the Drinks Business.