Enology for beginners: A look at crafting Holman Ranch wines

Visitors come to Holman Ranch from all over the world. Most make the journey for two reasons: to taste our award-winning wine and experience our vineyard first hand

But did you know that there are many variables involved in the winemaking process itself? Each step in the winemaking process is the perfect blend of left-brain and right-brain thinking: Winemaking involves a scientific approach and yet is an art form. 

Enology, the study of wine and winemaking, is an ancient practice continued in the modern world by people who are genuinely passionate about what they do. That passion is none more evident than as demonstrated by our winemakers, Greg and Chris Vita, a father-son duo behind some of the most beloved wine brands along the California coast, including Holman Ranch. 

According to Chris Vita, “Everything you do impacts the outcome of the wine. Nothing shows what you’re doing in the vineyard and the cellar more than the Holman Ranch Pinot Noir. It’s transparent. It doesn’t leave any room for mistakes.”

Other wine industry professionals share Chris’ view of the complexities of vinology. Every factor that plays a part in the final product is sifted through carefully, ensuring only the optimum results in each bottle. 

Here’s a look at what makes the Holman Ranch wines (and winemaking process) truly special: 

Our location in the Carmel Valley AVA

Our location in the Carmel Valley AVA plays a part in both the uniqueness and deliciousness of Holman Ranch wines. 

The Carmel Valley AVA is in Monterey County and is home to many producers of wine. AVA stands for American Viticultural Area, and these are specifically designated districts for growing the grapes that produce wines in the US. According to the Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association, “Monterey Wine County is home to over 150 unique vineyards that are within the AVAs of Monterey, Santa Lucia Highlands, Arroyo Seco, San Lucas, Hames Valley, Chalone, Carmel Valley, San Antonio Valley, and San Bernabe.”

Located in the center of California along the coast, the Carmel Valley AVA is an exceptional location, well-known on an international stage for grape and wine production. 

A cooler-than-expected climate

Carmel Valley temperatures tend to trend a bit cooler than the rest of the state. Typically annual temperature highs are in the 70s, while lows can average in the 40s. 

“This climate is well suited to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the main varieties we have here on the property,” says Vita. 

Carmel Valley’s location, south of Napa and Santa Rosa, is actually one of the cooler places in California because of the distinctive topographical features of the area. This climate aids in producing high-quality grapes for our wines. 

The influence of topography

Our vineyard is on a hillside with rocky soils, fairly typical of the Carmel Valley AVA in general, known for its mountainous and rocky terrain. However, Holman Ranch’s close proximity to the ocean gives the vineyard a coastal influence, which factors into overall production.

Described by Chris Vita as being “more akin to a European vineyard,” the Holman Ranch vineyard is unique among the Carmel Valley appellation (a dedicated area to producing wine) because of its geographical position. 

Holman Ranch is proud to be 100% estate-grown wine

All of these factors taken into consideration, perhaps the most unique thing about Holman Ranch is that we grow each grape used for making our wines. And we couldn’t do it without the climate, location, or geographical features of the area. 

We are proud to have full control over the winemaking process so that we can ensure the highest quality during each step. And this quality is directly impacted by how the grapes are grown. 

Chris Vita says, “If we can control farming practices, we can put something special into each bottle.”

Another benefit of being a 100% estate-grown winery is that the winery and vineyard are close to one another, which aids in processing the grapes. Fruit arrives at the facility at an ideal temperature, and the underground winery allows Holman Ranch to maintain a relatively cool temperature on a year-round basis. 

Experience Holman Ranch during a wine tour

Both Greg and Chris Vita conduct tours regularly and have an ongoing tour service available with multiple tiers. Visitors can schedule tours specifically for tasting, or they can have a full experience, visiting both the vineyard and the cellar. 

“We try to partake in as many of these tours as possible,” says Vita. “We like to represent the work that we do and see how people are receiving the wines. Everyone’s palate is different, and everyone’s opinions are relevant.”

Even newcomers to the world of wine are educated during the tours, and many find that they leave with a new appreciation and respect for the winemaking process. 

With each sip that you savor of our delicious Pinot Noir or Rosé, you’re quite literally tasting the fruits of our labor, and it’s truly a labor we love. Are you interested in scheduling a tour for yourself or your family? Visit our tasting room and find out how you can experience Holman Ranch winemaking first-hand. 

Contact us today so that we can help you make lasting memories. Holman Ranch is a private estate in Carmel Valley, CA. All visits are by appointment only. Contact: [email protected] or 831-659-2640 if you have any questions.