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Barrel cellar

Winemaking to Show Vineyard Character

Jeff Stewart is a perfect fit with Hartford's philosophy of "high risk, high reward" winemaking.

At Hartford Family Winery, we embrace traditional winemaking techniques to produce luscious wines that express terroir.

Hand Picking and Sorting

Gentle handling and sorting of both clusters and berries preserve fruit quality.

Destemmed, Not Crushed

Pinot Noir and Zinfandel are partially de-stemmed, but not crushed. Approximately 75% whole berries are delivered to stainless steel open-top fermentors where they are given a pre-fermentation cold soak and stirred daily for about five days to extract optimum color and mouth-feel. Small lots of Pinot Noir are occasionally whole-cluster fermented.

Cold Soaking

Before fermentation is allowed to begin, whole berries and juice are placed in chilled tanks for nearly five days. This process extracts additional flavors (polyphenols) and more supple tannins that cannot be obtained during the warmer fermentation process.

Native Yeasts For Primary & Secondary Fermentation

After the Pinot Noir and Zinfandel cold soak, the cooling jackets are turned off and the grape juice is allowed to warm and begin fermentation, utilizing primarily native yeasts for both primary and secondary malolactic fermentation.

Open Top Fermentation

For maximum color and flavor extraction, shallow, wide fermentors are used to facilitate the mixing (punching down) of the skins. During fermentation, red grapes are punched down in small open-top fermentors and pressed off after taste evaluation — usually at or close to dryness.

French Oak

Only tightly grained French oak barrels are used to age all of the wines. Wines are aged from 11 to 15 months. New French oak percentages generally range from 30% up to 100%.

Minimal Handling

After going to barrel, wines are usually racked only once before bottling.

Making Chardonnay

Chardonnay is hand sorted, whole-cluster pressed and undergoes 100% barrel and malolactic fermentation. Batonage, or stirring of lees (spent yeast cells), is performed as warranted to build texture in the Chardonnay. Typically all wines undergo native yeast and malolactic fermentations – just like our distinctive Pinot Noirs and Old Vine Zinfandels.

Unfined and Unfiltered

Most wines are not fined or filtered, in order to preserve the mouth-filling flavors and textures in our wine.