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Winemaker’s Choice: What We’re Drinking

by Joy Sterling | Published May 8, 2022

Iron Horse Vineyards Winemaker’s Choices

Ever wonder what the winemaker pours for himself? Well, here are Winemaker Emeritus David Munksgard’s picks our 2022 clubs. Members in our Winemaker’s Choice Club receive these delicious wines each month! Read his reflections here:

June 2022: Fairy Tale Celebration Cuvée

“Iron Horse is proud to produce a special sparkler for Disney called Fairy Tale Cuvée. It started off small, just for their Wedding Pavilion at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. (Did you know their brides can arrive in a glass pumpkin?)

Originally the label said Fairy Tale Wedding Cuvée. Then the high-end restaurants at EPCOT wanted it, then the Disney Cruise ships, and the name changed to what it is in now, Fairy Tale Celebration Cuvée, produced exclusively for Disney … with just enough on top of their allocation to fulfill our wine club.  Yet another reason to join our club!  Right now we have a wait list for this bubbly in the hopes that there will be some remaining.

This is not just a label or marketing ploy, but a great celebratory bubbly. It is deliciously lean and sophisticated – an elegant brunch wine.  If you are feeling especially appreciative and romantic, serve your special someone breakfast in bed with a flute of Fairy Tale and a fresh cut rose.”

June 2022: Native Yeast Chardonnay

“Summer to me means fresh corn on the cob, which naturally pairs with Chardonnay. I recommend our current release of Native Yeast Chardonnay.

What does “native yeast” mean? Well, to turn grape juice into wine we need yeast to ferment the sugar in the juice and convert it into alcohol. Grapes in the vineyard are covered with “wild” or “native” yeast. In that “wild” population, there is great variety, but it is harder to control than commercially available yeast. What starts this wild fermentation, will not finish the fermentation. In that population will be yeast of different needs and sensitivity to different levels of alcohol. “The magic” is made in the first few days, by the large population of weak fermenters. They die off and are replaced by a succession of stronger yeast that eventually finishes the fermentation, resulting in a complex wine characterized by an exotic nose and depth of mouthfeel not found in our other Chardonnays.

Native Yeast Chardonnay is our once-a-year chance to embrace nature not just in the vineyard, but in the cellar as well. Production is intentionally very low, so we can “babysit” the fermentations.

I hope you will get your hands on a bottle of this mouthwatering Chardonnay to pair with the pleasures from the summer garden.”

May 2022: 2018 Rainbow Cuvee

“Rainbow Cuvée is our toast to diversity.  The blend for this delicious sparkling wine changes every vintage. For this release, I was inspired during my early morning walks around the reservoir on the estate, home to a variety of visiting ducks, geese, and herons. You can see one of our favorite vineyard blocks reflected in the water. It’s a beautiful sight …  and the grapes from the Reflection blocks make exceptional wines.

The base wine for 2018 Rainbow was made from this special site on the estate. It is 64% Pinot Noir and 36% Chardonnay. The Pinot Noir was barrel fermented and put through malo-lactic fermentation, while the Chardonnay was cool fermented in stainless steel without M/L to preserve its vibrant quality.

The complexity of the blend is apparent immediately upon opening the bottle. Even before pouring the first glass, scents of peach, apricot and toasted almonds fill the air. The first sip fills your mouth with stone fruit and baked almond, along with crisp apple and brioche on the finish. Every sip that I take of this wine reminds me how lucky I am to have found winemaking and Iron Horse, the place where my winemaking dreams are realized.”

May 2022: 2019 Home Block Pinot Noir

“Home Block Pinot Noir comes from a small 3.4-acre planting of Calera Clone Pinot Noir, so named because it is adjacent to our Co-founder Audrey Sterling’s home. We probably lavish more attention to this site because Audrey’ looks at it every day from her veranda.

Only the upper section of the vineyard, that gets more sun, goes into this wine. The dividing line changes a bit year to year based on the “look” and taste of the grapes near harvest time. We will send a crew in to drop clusters that don’t meet our expectations.

The result of all this self-imposed pressure pays off in the wine. Elegance is what we are looking for here – a wine that commands your attention, not by shouting, but with a seductive whisper. Wines like this come from the heart. You can’t buy that level of dedication needed to make them. You hire folks that already want to make them. People who keep the dream alive. A dream that started when Audrey and Barry first set eyes on what is now Iron Horse. Every sip you take of this wine keeps that dream alive. Cheers to dreamers like us!”