2022 Verdelho

2022 Verdelho

Wine Notes


Shenandoah Valley, Amador County, CA

Verdelho hails from the islands of Madeira, due west of Morocco, and was widely cultivated as early as the 1600’s. Its exact origin remains a mystery; it may have originated on Madeira itself. By 1872 Verdelho constituted two-thirds of the island’s vineyards. Originally, it was used to make Madeira’s famous sweet dessert wines along with the Bual, Malvasia, and Sercial varieties. In time, Verdelho became the most widely planted white variety within the DOC region. It was taken to the Azores, Australia, and Portugal and has been re-born in California as a zesty, layered, and dry table wine.

Verdelho has small, open clusters with petite, oval-shaped berries that yield good concentration. It is one of a handful of white wine varieties that do well in warm macroclimates and can develop multilayered fruit profiles while retaining acidity. We have discovered such terroir in the Sierra foothills: Bart’s Vineyard, in the gold rush town of Plymouth, at 1600’ owned by Ann and Richard Bartolotti. It is a 1.5-acre block on red iron containing granitic soils that produce zesty and complex wines. Ken Johnson (no relation!), Ann’s grandson, meticulously farms the vineyard. The trellis is VSP which allows dappled sunlight to the fruit in conjunction with morning side leaf-pulling.

Every season in 2022 held a surprise. Winter rainfall was 16-17”, about half of normal. Spring bud break was “on time” but in late April, northern California experienced extreme cold below 35F and several vineyards had some to severe frost damage. Our estate vineyard was cold (34F) but had no frost. Summer weather was normally warm until Sept 5-7 when the western states experienced a “heat dome” with temperatures hitting 114-120F three afternoons in a row. Fortunately, we harvested the Verdelho on August 19th so we escaped this heat spike.

Fermentation & Aging:
The grapes were harvested on August 19, 2022. The Brix was 25.5° with pH of 3.34 and total acid of 6.9g/L. The juice was fermented in stainless steel, using a special yeast, until dry then transferred to neutral French oak barrels to receive sur lie aging for 2 months. The wine was lovingly bottled on Feb. 14, 2023!