TERO Estates sits in the middle of the oldest commercially planted vineyard in the Walla Walla Valley AVA, Windrow Vineyard near Milton-Freewater, Oregon.
All estate fruit is hand-harvested and immediately delivered to our crush pad at the top of the hill, where it is gently destemmed, sorted, and placed into fermentation bins. The must is then cold soaked for two to five days before yeast is added to start the fermentation. The cap is “punched down” by hand three times a day.
When the fermentation is complete, the “free run” wine is siphoned into barrels and the remaining must is placed into our hydraulic basket press. Pressing off the skins and pulp is done gently and checked frequently to avoid bitter tannins. This “press fraction” is barreled separately from the free run.
At TERO Estates we use 95% French oak (70% new). Our focus is on Vicard with some Taransaud barrels and Gamba 2000 liter casks. Additionally, we use 5% Hungarian oak. Our Cabernets are aged in 90% new barrels while Merlot generally ages in 50% new barrels.
Once the wine is in barrel it is disturbed only when absolutely necessary to rack and clean the barrels or for topping. It is our belief that wine ages most gracefully when left quiet. Our barrel room is surrounded by other rooms of our newly constructed winery enhancing temperature stability. Typically our blending is done at about 18 months. Wines are left to age in barrels for 20 to 30 months. Bottling decisions are made when the wine shows us that it is ready, not before.
Once in bottle our wines age for a further 10 to 12 months before release. We believe the extra aging time allows the tannins and acidity to better integrate. This time also brings the nuanced subtleties of a wine to the forefront, something that younger vintage wines aren’t able to demonstrate. With bottle age the explosion of fruit calms down and perfumes, florals, spices and leathers come through, creating a wine that is much more diverse, elegant and a pleasure to drink.