Winemaking

Winemaking Philosophy

The winemaking process starts with top-quality fruit from 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 Chardonnay program utilizes the more risky & time-consuming technique of barrel fermentation with French oak barrels to generate a signature cuvée.

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 a stainless steel fermentation vessel where a small portion of juice is removed (a process called saignée or bleeding) to provide raw material for delicious Rosé wines while allowing for greater extraction of 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 in premium oak barrels, a mix of American & French, 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 Comninos has been producing fines wines at Heritage Vineyards since the 2009 vintage. During his time with Heritage, he has garnered high praise from wine critics and the media. His 2009 Bordeaux-styled blend “BDX” was rated 94 points by the Beverage Testing Institute.

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

John Levenberg
Winemaking Consultant

Heritage Vineyards works with world-renowned wine consultant, John Levenberg. John boasts some impressive credentials for making fine wine across the globe.

  • UC Davis – Masters in Viticulture and Enology
  • Spent nine years working at a number of wineries in California, France, and New Zealand
  • Responsible for the first L’Absolut de Quinault (Bordeaux, France), rated by Wine Spectator as one of the three best wines in Bordeaux for the 2002 vintage.
  • As former winemaker at Paul Hobbs Winery in California, John produced 23 wines rated 90+ points by Robert Parker, including two 100-point wines.

 

Winemaking Gallery