Our new release 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Pearl Collection is crafted as the ultimate expression of Cabernet Sauvignon from our estate Margarita Vineyard.

Hailing from specially cultivated vineyard blocks and aged in 100-percent new French oak barrels, this wine is nothing short of a blockbuster Cabernet Sauvignon with a striking sense of place.

We caught up with Founding Winemaker Mike Sinor to learn what it takes to make a wine of this caliber from the ground up:

We talk about these wines coming from “special blocks” at Margarita Vineyard. Can you elaborate on that? 

It comes down to isolating spots based on factors like slope, aspect, elevation and soil composition. Early on, we had hunches about certain spots. Some panned out more than others, and we now know exactly where the best Cabernet fruit comes from on Margarita Vineyard. These spots include the hillside slopes of Block 49 and the top of Block 50. It’s these sites that now form the backbone of our Cabernet Sauvignon Pearl Collection, as well as our Oyster Ridge red blend.

We are always innovating in the vineyard as well. We have some newer blocks that are performing at a really high level, and they are working their way into the Pearl Cabernet and Oyster Ridge programs. One example is Block 31, which is planted to Clone 47. The fruit coming off this block is exciting and will play a role in these wines going forward.

How do you treat these sites differently? 

It starts with pruning. We’re going to prune these vines more aggressively. That means leaving less buds—or growing points—per plant. It’s basic math: fewer growing points lead to lower yields. On average, we’re reducing yields in these spots by 30% or more right from the start. It’s a significant sacrifice. But the fruit will ripen a bit earlier, with better acidities at lower sugar levels. Overall, it elevates the intensity, character and quality. 

These sites are “meticulously farmed”—can you share some insights into that? 

The farming is just super attentive in these spots. You can tell just walking down the rows in the summer. There’s a lot less fruit and vegetative matter. Everything looks manicured, every vine is optimized for sun exposure and airflow. It takes a lot of time and manpower to make it this way, but it results in the highest quality wine and, naturally, a higher cost per bottle. We do a great job of managing our entire vineyard, but these are the spots where we double down. 

It comes down to leaving no stone unturned. If we can grow the perfect grapes, then that’s the first step to making an incredible wine, which is always the goal with Oyster Ridge and the Cabernet Sauvignon Pearl Collection. These are the “best of the best” wines from Ancient Peaks, and it all starts with how we start them off in the vineyard.