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Sterling vineyards have been making Napa Valley Merlot for well over 50 years. This history and winemaking legacy in the valley gives the winery access to some of the finest vineyards in the region. For the 2014 Napa Valley Merlot the grapes come primarily from the Calistoga and Oak Knoll districts. The warm Calistoga region is known for imparting big, ripe tannins with dense fruit character. The Oak Knoll district—known as Napa Valley’s “sweet spot”—is a little cooler than Calistoga, and the Merlot fruit from here lends more red fruit characteristics and bright acidity, softening the overall blend. The combination of the two regions creates an elegant Merlot that reflects the beautiful nature of this varietal in the Napa Valley.
2014 was a wonderful vintage for the Napa Valley along the lines of the recent outstanding vintages of 2012 and 2013. Although California’s drought brought another dry winter, the growing season started with a warm, dry spring and relatively early bud break. Summer temperatures remained mild and consistent with even, warm temperatures throughout. The overall outstanding quality and fruit characteristics in this vintage will make Bordeaux varietals, such as Merlot, the highlight of the season. Grapes for the 2014 Napa Valley Merlot were harvested between September 6th and October 9th.
Kept in separate small lots until the final blending process, the grapes for the Napa Valley Merlot were picked, quickly brought to the winery and placed in tanks for a two-day cold soak designed to extract color and flavor from the grapes. The juice was then fermented dry and the young wine was placed in American (56%), French (30%) and European (14%) oak barrels for 18 months.