After months of knowing that Pulchella winemakers Nate Hasper and Steve Lemley had built the first crush pad in Santa Clarita, and not being able to release the news, I was chomping at the bit to get in there and check it out.
It finally happened. I got all of my questions answered, and then some, when my editor Michael Perlis and I had our tour. And if you just want the basics, click here for the news release. If not, here’s the full skinny:
First, for my wine 101ers: What is a crush pad? It’s a winemaking facility to which the grapes are transported after harvest, the stems and leaves are removed, the grapes are crushed and then all of the stages of fermentation – turning juice into wine – are closely managed by the winemakers.
In this case the winemakers are UC Davis-educated and bring a wealth of knowledge, and love, to the process.
“We’ve crushed 50 tons total since we opened.” Steve began. “But it’s been a long haul. The city was very supportive, happy that we were building the facility. However with the health department we hit all red tape and walls. The health department does not have a winery specific category so being forced to be categorized generically required us to implement tens of thousands of dollars in unnecessary and not industry standard requirements to open. Never the less, Santa Clarita has a hospital grade winery now… We worked together to complete the project.”
And why do it? Why not continue picking your grapes in Paso Robles and crushing there? Because they live here. “We couldn’t be watching over the process every single day so that meant we couldn’t make the wine the way we wanted to. We were clients in a crush pad long enough to learn how to do it.”
“Now we can keep track daily…of the brix (sugar) levels, when we may want to add yeast in during the fermentation process, basically be more proactive. We have our books, charts and a full lab right here.”
So, what’s in the future? For now Steve and Nate are taking in their own clients and helping them make their wines. They are also planning events in the crush pad – a New Year’s Eve Party being the first. And, very shortly, they will be opening another first in Santa Clarita.
“We will be expanding. We will be building a full service beer and winemaking store early in the new year complete with a showroom and plenty of supplies.” (Chomping at the bit now to see that!)
A Tremendous Passion For Wine…
Family owned and operated, Pulchella Winery is focused on hand producing very small quantities of extracted, intense and unique, ultra premium wines. We spare no expense in sourcing the highest quality, deeply rooted and dry farmed grapes that offer a true reflection of the calcareous shale terroir that Paso Robles’s west side cult style wines are famous for.
Our westside vineyards benefit from hot sunny days and ocean breeze influenced evenings. We hand harvest in low yields, and whole berry ferment in small open top bins and age exclusively in French and American oak barrels. We believe this approach produces wines that are rich and concentrated in flavor, texture and complexity.
Producing under 1000 cases a year of Grenache, Syrah, Rhone Blends, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Reserve Blends, our wines are kept in their truest form to allow the vineyards characteristics to shine.
Wed-Friday 5pm to 10pm.
Saturday 12pm to 10pm.
About Pulchella Winery:
After many years of perfecting their craft at making boutique wines separately, our two winemakers Nate Hasper and Steve Lemley blended their skills and Pulchella Winery was born in 2006.
Every lot produced is done so in very small quantities in order to allow the selected vineyards characteristics to take center stage. We truly believe that there is just as much passion in small vineyard management as boutique wines and this collective passion is what produces world class wines.
Many guests ask us what the word Pulchella means… While Nate and Steve were busy with harvest duties in 2006, they were visited by a dragonfly late one fall evening and the antics of the dragonfly in the winery touched them both enough to name the newly born winery after the species of dragonfly that visited them that night.
Pulchella (Libellula pulchella) is a common North American skimmer dragonfly, found in the cental coast wine regions and many other locations within the contiguous U.S. states. It is a large species, at 50 mm (2.0 in) long. Each wing has three black or brown spots. In adult males, additional white spots form between the brown ones and at the bases of the hindwings; it is sometimes called the Ten-spot Skimmer for the number of these white spots.