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Behind the Scenes

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January 4, 2018

New Year, Same Amazing Winemaker

2018 marks winemaker, Shawna Miller’s seventh year at Luna Vineyards. She began her winemaking odyssey in an unconventional manner by earning a degree in forestry from Virginia Tech. This nature lover became intrigued by enology, which led her to pursue an Extension Winemaking Certificate from the University of California, Davis.

For Shawna, a career in winemaking was a natural professional progression because her background in agriculture prepared her for some of the unglamorous aspects of the field, including the long, dirty harvest days in the cellar. She relishes the challenges associated with the harvest season.

Food and wine are important to Shawna as a means of connecting with family and friends. The wines she is crafting at Luna Vineyards are made in the true Italian spirit, namely, wines that are made to be part of delicious meals and great company at the table. In this tradition, the varietals she loves to work with most include Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Syrah.

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October 5, 2017

This Year’s Sangiovese Grape Harvest

Rising before the sun is the daily life of our vineyard workers during harvest season. In Napa Valley, harvest runs from mid August to late October. It’s a busy time for all wineries but it’s also the most rewarding time. Winemakers and cellar masters go into action as soon as the grapes line up in 1 ton bins on the crash pad. A year of hard work is realized as they crush the clusters, receiving the “juice” of their labor.

The grapes that become our Sangiovese Riserva are sourced from Game Farm Vineyard along the valley floor in Oakville. This is one of our winemaker’s favorite locations for many reasons. It is a place that holds fond memories for her and her family. Her young daughter, once strapped onto Shawna’s chest during vineyard walks, now helps collect grape samples with her mom.

The Game Farm Vineyard is also cherished for its extraordinary fruit quality. It was selected for its Brunello clone and shallow, rocky soil. In these soils, the stressed vines produce the superior quality Sangiovese we pick.

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September 20, 2017

What is Noble Rot?

Photo taken by Geoffry Hansen

The Luna Pinot Grigio Vineyards are in a very special location. Their proximity to the San Francisco Bay and the Napa Valley River provide morning fog, creating ideal growing conditions to make a fully botrytized late harvest wine.

These grapes are left on the vine until 30 brix. At this time, naturally occurring botrytis sets in the grape clusters, also known as Noble Rot in classic Sauternes production. But what is Noble Rot? According to Wine Folly…

‘Noble Rot’ (aka Botrytis cinerea) is a type of Ascomycota within the Funghi kingdom. Other ascomycetes include the antibiotic penicillin, Stilton blue cheese and the fungus responsible for athelete’s foot. Botrytis cinerea can occur on fruits, vegetables and flowers –imagine a moldy strawberry. However with wine, it’s considered a good thing. Wines such as Sauternes from Bordeaux; Tokaji Aszu from Hungary, and Spätlese level German Riesling all are made from ‘Noble Rot’ grapes.

The botrytis intensifies the sweetness of the grapes naturally, creating uniquely concentrated dessert wines. For us, it produces luscious honey notes and mouthfeel which perfectly complements the grapefruit and delicate floral aromas of our Pinot Grigio.

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September 13, 2017

Luna After Dark

Luna’s nightlife has been very active lately. Harvest season is in full swing which means our crew has been working long hours, day and night, to bring in this year’s fruit. All of our grapes are harvested by hand at night or early morning. We do this to take advantage of cool temperatures. Not only are the temperatures more tolerable for the workers, but they benefit the grapes as well. Picking in 50°, as opposed to 90°+, ensures the grapes are firmer, making them easier to work.

This photo gallery showcases our unsung heroes of harvest as they pick Pinot Grigio at 3:00 a.m. from our Estate Vineyard in Napa, California.

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September 7, 2017

Early Morning on Howell Mountain

“It’s not ready” says Luna Winemaker, Shawna Miller as she expels the seeds of a Cabernet grape. We’re walking through Luna’s special Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard which sits at an elevation of 2,200 feet on a remote part of Howell Mountain. It’s 6:30 in the morning and the sun is just starting to make it’s appearance over the eastern mountains. Fog is lining the Napa Valley beneath us and the morning is peaceful.

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