|Domaine Carneros begins harvest in mid-August, at the point when the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes have achieved a level of maturity determined by the winemaker to be optimum for sparkling wine. The fog which descends on the area at dusk reduces air temperature by as much as 20ºF, cooling the fruit by the middle of the night.
The harvest takes place during the pre-dawn and early morning hours; the grapes are hand-harvested into shallow receptacles to avoid any bruising and immediately brought to the cellar. On arrival, they are hand-loaded into air-pressure operated Willmes membrane presses and the must gently extracted. Only this delicate first pressing is used to produce the wine, and the primary fermentation is initiated immediately in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks.
From the harvest through vinification and the weeks of evaluation which follow, each clonal selection is maintained separately in its own tank before the composition of the finished wine is determined. After extensive trial blendings, the optimum proportion of each varietal and each clone is assembled in the final cuvée; the blend approximates 65 percent Pinot Noir and 25 to 30 percent Chardonnay, with the balance in Pinot Blanc.
The wine is completed strictly according to the méthode traditionnelle used in the production of champagne, with a secondary fermentation in bottle. The wine is aged a minimum of three years before riddling. This process takes place in Domaine Carneros' cellars, carved into the hillside beneath the winery; surrounded by earth on three sides, they maintain a constant, cool temperature year round. Following disgorgement, the wine receives a light brut dosage of just under one percent. As a result of the consistently fine quality of Carneros' vintages which dispels the need to blend wines across vintages, each bottle of Domaine Carneros Brut bears a vintage date.