Colleen FitzGerald is the assistant winemaker for the Chenin Blanc + Viognier program at Pine Ridge Vineyards. In addition to seeing this wine through fermentation and blending, Colleen works with winegrowers in the Clarksburg American Viticultural Area in the Sacramento Delta region to make decisions about pruning and vine management as well as harvest timing, which is crucial with Chenin Blanc.
“I love working with Chenin Blanc because it has distinctive acidity and vibrant lemon-lime characters that complement the weight and floral notes of Viognier,” says Colleen. “It’s a unique, food-friendly, unpretentious wine. I like it with curry, barbecue, anything spicy.”
SOURCING & WINEMAKING
In France, Chenin Blanc and Viognier are grown in different appellations on opposite sides of the country and are never blended together. In California, however, we take a more relaxed and experimental approach.
Our Chenin Blanc hails from Clarksburg, which is located in the Sacramento River Delta. This locale experiences temperatures in excess of 90° during the day but a much cooler climate in the evening. This kind of differential creates ideal ripening conditions where the fruit can develop lush, ripe flavors but retain enough natural acidity for excellent balance. Here, the loamy mineral rich soils give Chenin Blanc a “honey” character, which is one of its defining characteristics.
Southeast of Clarksburg is Lodi, where our Viognier is grown. Lodi experiences a Mediterranean climate, and because of ancient river sediment, the vineyards contain large stones similar to those found in France’s Rhone Valley, the original home of Viognier.
We harvest our Chenin Blanc early to ensure the fruit retains a good amount of natural acidity. The Viognier, on the other hand, is harvested once the fruit fully ripens. These selections are pressed, cold fermented, and then blended in different percentages until we find just the right balance: citrus notes and honeyed apples and pears from the Chenin Blanc, and tropical fruits, floral notes and spices from the Viognier.
Learn more about our current release.