Our winemaking operations are led by Mike Sinor and Nathan Carlson, both veteran Edna Valley winemakers with longtime personal connections to the estate.
Mike’s first wine industry job was at the Lawrence estate, now home to Center of Effort. Over the past 15 years, he has dedicated himself to the mastery of Burgundian varietals, earning some of our region’s highest ratings along the way. His continual quest for knowledge has taken him to France several times, where he gained immeasurable insights from some of Burgundy’s top producers. At Center of Effort, Mike guides the stylistic direction of our wines.
Nathan’s winemaking experience in the Edna Valley spans more than 12 years. He has also made Pinot Noir in Santa Barbara County, Carneros, the Sonoma Coast and Oregon’s Dundee Hills. His work with wine industry technical leaders has forged close ties with winemakers around the world. At Center of Effort, Nathan oversees our winemaking operations and manages the estate.
Mike and Nathan became friends after frequently crossing paths in the Edna Valley. They now come full circle, back to our estate. Their expertise is instrumental in achieving the rigorous standards of quality and artistry that we demand in our wines.
Hank and Maggie Skewis founded Skewis Wines with the intention of producing high quality, vineyard designated Pinot Noirs from The North Coast region of California. The first grapes were purchased in 1994 from the Floodgate Vineyard in Mendocino County's Anderson Valley. In subsequent years we have contracted for fruit from the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast appellations. Our annual production has increased slowly to the current level of 900 cases.
We believe that the finest Pinot Noir can only be made from low yielding vines located in premium growing regions. We work with growers who share this belief and rigorously limit yields by means of winter pruning, spring shoot thinning, and summer cluster thinning prior to "veraison." As a result, the average crops in the vineyards we contract with are between two and two and one-half tons per acre.
Harvest dates are determined by a mixture of sugar and acid analysis, tasting and observation of the vines and fruit. Typical numbers might be 24-25 degrees Brix and pH in the range of 3.3-3.5. Once harvested, the grapes are gently crushed into small bins, fermented quite warm (up to 90-95°F) for maximum extraction of color, phenolics and complexity of fruit, then pressed into French Oak barrels where the new wine completes primary and secondary (malolactic) fermentations. An 18 month aging period follows, during which the wines are rarely handled and clarify naturally, eliminating the need for fining or filtration prior to bottling. They are bottled and aged an additional 6 months before release in October of each year.
We feel strongly that our "hands-off" approach allows the wines to develop and exhibit all the wonderful complexities for which this delicate variety is famous. Limited production and regular evaluation in the vineyard and the cellar help us to create Pinot Noirs which we feel compare favorably with the best that the new and old worlds have to offer.