Making Wine at Utopia
Daniel Warnshuis is Utopia’s Owner/Winemaker. He personally oversees the management of the vineyard, the harvest, and the winemaking process. Throughout the course of the growing season, Daniel is actively involved in monitoring the development and maturity of the grapes. At harvest, he’s intimately involved as Utopia’s fruit is processed using the finest, state-of-the-art equipment and systems.
Hand-Sorting and EuroSelect De-Stemmers
Pinot Noir is famous for being one of the most challenging wines to make successfully, in part because the grapes themselves are so fragile and easily damaged. At Utopia, our fruit is always harvested by hand. A crew of seasoned professionals descends on the vineyard, moving quickly from vine to vine. They use only small hand tools, special pruning shears, snipping off one bunch of grapes at a time. These clipped bunches are carefully placed in impeccably clean plastic buckets, then transferred to waiting bins at the end of each row of vines. These bins are lifted onto large transports and driven directly to the winery. The total time from the moment when a grape cluster is picked until it arrives at the winery is less than an hour.
When Utopia’s fruit arrives at the winery, it’s placed in a temperature-controlled area to prevent any detrimental early-stage fermentation. The first steps at the winery, sorting and de-stemming, occur at cool temperatures to protect the fruit and its precious juice. Each bunch of grapes is carefully hand-sorted before being placed into a state-of-the-art EuroSelect De-stemmer that gently separates the grapes from the stems. Using this sophisticated equipment protects the fruit and results in the preservation of the greatest possible quantity of whole berries. After de-stemming, these berries are carefully sorted again to ensure that only the best quality fruit is included in the fermentation process.
In keeping with our minimalist and natural approach to winemaking, Utopia ferments its Pinot Noir in small-lot fermentation tanks using indigenous or “wild” yeast fermentations that start in the vineyard The end result of wild fermentations, and what also may be referred to as a sequential fermentation, is a wine with added texture and finesse. Fermentation temperatures are carefully controlled using probes that measure the exact temperature at the core of the must, rather than the outside of the fermentation tank.
Our Pinot Noir is aged in a combination of new and used French oak barrels produced by one of the world’s finest Burgundian coopers, Francois Freres. Utopia typically uses a mixture of tightly grained Allier and Troncais forests and medium plus toast barrels to impart a balanced oak influence to our Pinot Noir without over-oaking the wines. We generally age our wines between eleven and twelve months. Throughout aging, our barrels are held in temperature and humidity controlled barrel rooms to ensure that we deliver on our commitment to produce the finest quality wine possible. Once bottled, Utopia wines are stored in a temperature controlled warehouse in the heart of the Willamette Valley.
Our Commitment to You
As you can see by our attention to every detail, Utopia is committed to producing only world class wines. From viticulture through winemaking, aging, and bottling, the Utopia professionals work collaboratively to produce our wines. We’re very proud of this work, and invite you to visit us in our Ribbon Ridge Tasting Room to sample the results.