Instrumental in Traditional Winemaking
Excavation on Repris’ caves began in 1981 and continued for nearly a dozen years. Among the first caves created in Sonoma after Prohibition, their direct proximity to the vineyards and winery was a concerted effort to foster the gentlest handling of the grapes from harvest to barrel aging and bottling. Over the next decade, 18,000 square feet were carefully hollowed out of the volcanic mountainside.
The function of caves in winemaking is as simple as it is significant: to maintain a constant cool temperature and high humidity level. Daytime temperatures at Moon Mountain Vineyard can surpass 100 degrees in the summer, and drop below freezing on winter nights. Yet once inside the massive cave doors, subterranean temperatures moderate themselves at a constant range of 53 to 59 degrees without the need for artificial climate control or energy use.
Humidity also plays a critical role. Porous oak barrels naturally sacrifice wine to evaporation; fortunately, the moisture in the atmosphere within our caves means that we lose far more alcohol to evaporation than in a drier environment. This proves an indispensable tool that winemaker Erich Bradley uses to his advantage by allowing the grapes to ripen more fully in the vineyard, enhancing their complexity without fear of producing unbalanced wines.