The Bright Angel winemaking process
Bright Angel has a unique relationship with a Napa Valley custom winery that allows us to buy grapes from world-class vineyards and work with one of Napa’s most experienced winemakers. The Wine Foundry is located south of Napa and works with some of the most well-known vineyards in wine country, including Stagecoach Vineyard®, A2, Hyde and Rodgers Creek. Patrick Saboe is Director of Wine Making at The Wine Foundry and our winemaker. Bright Angel has become one of The Wine Foundry’s largest customers and has early access to all of their vineyards. We have a philosophy that certain grapes are best grown in specific subclimates of Napa and Sonoma.
After we select our varietals and vineyards, we work very closely with our winemaker, Patrick Saboe, on every aspect of making our wine. We are making decisions regarding fermentation, how long to age the wine before blending, the types of tanks/barrels to age the wine and finally when to blend the wine. We have certain philosophies for blending each varietal. We age Sauvignon Blanc 4-6 months in a concrete egg. We age Chardonnay 15-18 months half in new French oak and half in neutral barrels. Pinot Noir is aged 15-18 months in once used barrels and finally our Cabernet is ages 24-30 months in a combination of new and used barrels.
For blending, we sit down with Patrick and blend each individual wine to make them in the style that we feel our customers will enjoy. Though we have some training, we are not professionally educated winemakers. We feel this gives us a unique advantage. We have a normal person’s pallet! We think this is the key to not over-engineering our wines.
For each barrel, we start with our base wine and then adjust the wine to come up with our final blend. We can add different varietals, we can add the same varietal from different vintages or sometimes we add the same varietal from different vineyards. We have a lot of options and flexibility because of the size and the buying power of The Wine Foundry.
After blending, the wine is ready to be bottled but not quite ready for you. The final step is letting our wines sit in the bottle for 3-12 months depending on the varietal. This allows the wine to settle down from the bottling process and gives the wine time to integrate and soften in the bottle.
Finally, our wines are made to age. Sauvignon Blanc has a drinking window of 5-7 years, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir 10-12 years and our Cabernets 15+ years.
There is a lot that goes into every bottle of Bright Angel wine, but in the end, it’s meant to be enjoyed with family and friends.