2023 Verdelho

2023 Verdelho

Wine Notes


Shenandoah Valley, Sierra Foothills, 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.

The 2023 growing season started out with a bang. We had a whopping 54” of rain: 3 times the 2022 season! It rained into the spring, so flowering and set were late. Set finished in late May and revealed a very large crop. Summer was “normal”. We had no huge heat spike as we did in 2022. Harvest was also “normal”, smooth, and evenly spaced with good weather.

Fermentation & Aging:
The grapes were harvested on September 11, 2023. The Brix was 23.9° with pH of 3.35 and total acid of 5.1g/L. The juice was fermented in stainless steel, X5 yeast, until dry, then transferred to neutral French oak barrels to receive sur lie aging for 2 months. The wine was bottled on Feb. 8, 2024.