Our estate winery was specially designed by architect Howard Backen and his team to work in harmony with this magnificent site. The winery design enables us to both protect the integrity of the fruit coming in from the vineyard and meticulously care for each individual lot, so as to further enhance the purity of the fruit and each block’s unique character.
All fruit is selectively hand-harvested into small lug-boxes, sorted before and after de-stemming, then gravity fed into a combination of specially designed small French oak and cement tanks, with a small amount going to French oak barrels for fermentation. Each lot enjoys a lengthy maceration time, ranging from 21-43 days. During this time, pump overs and below the cap lees stirring are enacted daily. In addition, prior to pressing, rack and return is performed 3-4 times in each fermentation tank. Post-fermentation, all lots are drained, with pomace pressed separately, to 85% new small French oak barrels for malolactic fermentation. The lees are kept in barrel with the new wine for an extended period of stirring, to enrich the body, nourish the wine and polish the tannins. The wine is clarified slowly and naturally through the use of traditional settling and racking techniques and bottled without fining or filtration. In the end, 25-30% of potential lots are declassified as they do not meet Continuum’s standard of quality. On average, each vintage will spend 19-20 months in barrel.
Estate Based Design
At Continuum, each of our 36 vineyard blocks are harvested, sorted, crushed and fermented independently of the rest. The winery was designed to allow for that flexibility and to respect the individuality of each of our vineyard blocks. Of course this requires a more flexible use of winery space and additional tanks but respecting the inherent vineyard site variations requires that we evaluate and experiment with each separately throughout the winemaking cycle. This is an integral part of understanding our unique terroir as we strive to make a singular world class wine.
Our fermentation vessels are a combination of Taransaud and Francois Fouderie oak, ranging from 2.5- 8 tons in size (70%), Sonoma Cast Stone and Nomblot concrete vessels 3- 6 tons sizes (20%) with a small amount (10%) of fermentation in oak barrels and ¾ ton open bins. All wood and concrete fermentation tanks are equipped with automated pump over air pumps and temperature control sensors to ensure a gentle and timely extraction. This capability allows each lot to be handled independently, and achieve the desired temperatures on a timely basis.
Resource efficiencies and conservation
An integral part of the winery design was maximizing our resource management capabilities. Working with Professor Roger Boulton of U.C. Davis, we incorporated water conservation protocols that allow the winery to be 100% self sufficient on its water needs as well as reduce energy requirements for heating through the use of solar thermal panels. In addition, carbon dioxide produced during fermentation is evacuated from the winery which allows for more efficient heating and cooling. Finally, extra heavy insulation throughout the winery provide the needed temperature and humidity control required without over utilizing our natural resources.