The Napa Valley Merlot fruit comes primarily from the Suscol Springs Estate vineyard at the southern end of the Napa Valley. Vines struggle in rocky Hambright outcrop soils planted on steep hillsides with a southern exposure. These blocks produce grapes with distinctive, true-to-varietal flavors, bright acidity and a muscular structure that is ideal for aging. Each vineyard lot is harvested, de-stemmed and crushed separately. The various lots are fermented in a mix of small closed and open-top stainless steel tanks, with pumpovers to fully extract color, flavor and tannin from the skins. After fermentation, the new wines are transferred to carefully selected French oak barrels, approximately one-third new, where they age for six to eight months before being blended. The blended wine then spends an additional nine to eleven months in barrel to impart further complexity to the wine prior to bottling.