Our Winemaker's Influence on the Winery's Design

Our social media team asked our winemaker, Michael Carr, to share some of his thoughts about the construction and design of the new Roche winery. Michael has been making award-winning wine for our family for more than 22 years and has been heavily involved since the inception with the planning of this soon-to-be constructed winery.

I can’t wait to get the new winery finished and making wine!

When the Roche family approached me in 2014 with their plan to construct a new winery, they asked me to be an integral part in the design of a new, modern winery focused on my winemaking styles, which will improve the quality of our wines tremendously. I will be able to hone in on what really makes great Carneros Pinot Noir while at the same time keeping the traditions that I have developed over the many years I have made wine for the Roche family.

Michael inspects the placement of the electrical and refrigeration lines needed to service the twenty five Stainless Steel tanks to be installed in the soon-to-be-completed fermentation building.

Michael inspects the placement of the electrical and refrigeration lines needed to service the twenty five Stainless Steel tanks to be installed in the soon-to-be-completed fermentation building.

Key goals that I had for the facility included bringing in new equipment that would allow us to incorporate more modern winemaking processes for color, body and flavor extraction from grapes. I also wanted the design of the new facility to help us to increase efficiencies for all operations at the winery so that we can do more with what we have. Lastly, I wanted to bring our laboratory up to speed so we can do more in-house analysis, even though true winemaking really depends on an old-school keen sense of smell and taste without relying on lab data!

With the new facility and the new equipment, I will be able to do some playing with the grapes like I haven’t been able to in the past. I will have lots of smaller tanks and that, combined with the fact that I will have extra space, gives me the ability to try more cold soaks on the Pinots and do some experiments that I wasn’t able to do before. Maybe try different yeasts or experiment with whole cluster ferments – many different ideas I have thought of but was never able to carry through due to the limitations of our past facility and equipment. This applies to all of the varietals we produce!

Michael surveying the location of the future wine lab, a room that will be more than twice the size of the wine lab he uses at the current Roche production facility.

Michael surveying the location of the future wine lab, a room that will be more than twice the size of the wine lab he uses at the current Roche production facility.

In most wineries, the tank setup is usually what prevents a winemaker from being able to experiment. Therefore, with the new facility I have been focused on the design of the tank room from the very first discussion of what the buildings will look like and the layout of the tanks. The key is to have lots of small tanks and only a few larger ones, and even before you design the tank layout you first need to think about what they will be used for, which is to ferment each of our Pinot Noir clones that we grow separately.  

We are also designing a new laboratory that will be the window into our wine world. Literally it will have a window to show off all of the equipment we use to analyze and perfect each bottle of wine. Anyone visiting is welcome to peer through the window and see what we are checking on - but we may not notice you look in as we may be busy looking through our microscope or measuring our beakers.

The new facility will offer Michael and his winemaking team a great space to produce wine

The new facility will offer Michael and his winemaking team a great space to produce wine

There will be so many fun things to see and also to taste while you are at the new facility, and, due to all the shiny new stainless steel tanks we have acquired, you will likely have to step over several hoses that are connected moving wine all around not only from tank to tank but also from the tank room over to the barrel room. Another exciting addition at the new winery will be a large conference room that will not only serve as a meeting space but also function as the perfect space for all of our winemaking team tastings – sorry, winemakers only invited to those tastings!  We will need that space as we will have so many things to taste before blending each of the barrels together.

Well, lots of exciting changes to come!  This new winery facility will be a welcome change for our winemaking team and, of course, we hope also a wonderful destination for visitors to southern Sonoma.

 

- Michael Carr
Winemaker