2015 Cabernet Sauvignon

The Vineyard at Pelkan Ranch

Knights Valley of Sonoma County

The Paint of Moonlight

At Pelkan Ranch, the vineyards blanket the crest of an ancient volcano where the vines struggle in the unwelcoming soil and the unwavering sun.  By embracing the night’s cool breeze and basking in the gentle kiss of moonlight, they endure.


Winegrowing Approach

Pelkan Ranch is located on the summit of the Mayacamas mountains that line the western edge of Knights Valley in Sonoma County, northwest of Calistoga.  The continued drought in 2015 and an unusually cool flowering period in May caused an uneven fruit set that reduced the yield to about 2.5 tons per acre. This natural removal of fruit translates into very good quality, but ultimately less wine.  

We picked the grapes at the optimal tannin ripeness and brought the grapes into the winery during the cool early morning hours. Once at the winery we diligently sorted and scrutinized the grapes. We then destemmed and gently crushed the grapes prior to entry into a temperature-controlled tank to allow the cold soak to extract as much color as possible over a seven-day period. We next inoculated the grape mixture with yeast and initiated either pump-overs or rack-and-returns, depending on the stage of the fermentation. Upon completion of the fermentation we allowed the maceration to continue until we achieved the right balance in structure.  Afterwards, we gently pressed it to tank and allowed the heavy solids to settle before transferring the wine to new oak barrels to age for 22 months. The oak staves used to make our cabernet barrels are from the best forests in France and aged extra-long so that they are not too aggressive on the wine. We racked the wine off its sediment two times before it was bottled.

Winemaker’s Tasting Notes

Rich and brooding, The Paint of Moonlight explodes from the glass with opulent layers of red plum, blackberries, and cassis. Layers of spices mingle with the fruit giving way to notes of lavender, nutmeg, and cardamom.

On the palate that opulence is in balance due to a solid acid backbone and rich, but fairly-tight tannins. The finish lingers with red fruits and wisps of graphite.

Made in a more approachable style, this wine is rich in color, texture and flavor. It has an elegance not often seen in mountain Cabernets of this intensity.

Enjoy this wine between now and 2030.

Technical Information

Elevation: 1000 feet above sea level

Soil: Volcanic, very iron-rich soils with ferric sedimentary rocks, basalt, andesite

Slope and Aspect: North-east facing, slope 20%

Farming: Sustainable, custom farming to winemaker’s specifications to ensure highest quality and uniformity

Fermentation: 100% destemmed, 7-day cold soak, 10-day fermentation, 5-day post fermentation maceration

Aging: 100% new French oak for 20 months, racked twice

Production: 50 dozen bottled July 26th, 2017, neither fined nor filtered

Alcohol: 15.2%