Chardonnay That Grows In California Research Paper Sample

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Wine, Fruit, Soil, Growth, Winery, Irrigation, Acidity, Barrels

Pages: 2

Words: 550

Published: 2021/03/18

Grape Profile

Chardonnay is one of the best – if not the best – type of grape in the world when it comes to making white wine. This chardonnay is also used in the making of red wine. Chardonnay grapes have a light-green skin when mature, and their juice is almost colorless after removal of the skin. The berries have a yellow to amber color when ripe. The grape clusters of traditional chardonnay are small to average size and are usually cylindrical in shape. Clone clusters are however larger in California. The berries are small, round, have thin skins, and are delicate (fragile) making their cost of growth, harvesting, and aging to be high. The small size of the berries contributes to them having a high skin to juice ratio. Chardonnay is prone to the problem of millerandage, which makes the clusters to have a combination of berries that are both normal and small-sized, also called “hens and chicks” (Bettiga, 2011).
The aroma profile of chardonnay is determined by its variety. The compounds that contribute to the aromas of most chardonnay juices are β-ionone, α-terpeniol, linalool, and damascenone (Bettiga, 2011). Therefore, the odors specific to distinct varieties are not caused by qualitative but by quantitative aromatic differences. There is no conclusive way to determine the aromas or flavor a chardonnay will develop. Chardonnay has three fruit aroma and flavor classifications, believed to be influenced by the climate and the soil during the growth of the vine. Tree fruits comprising of apple, orange, and pear are the most common of these fruit flavors and aromas. Citrus fruit flavor is rare in chardonnay but exceptions are available. The citrus fruit category is usually dominated by orange, lemon, and grapefruit. The last aroma and flavor classification is the tropical fruit including banana, pineapple, and melon. The acidity level of chardonnay grapes is influenced by their variety and the climate of the place where they are grown. Grapes grown in cooler climates tend to have higher acidity compared to those grown in warmer climates. The main acids found in Chardonnay are malic acid, potassium hydrogen malate, tartaric acid, and potassium hydrogen tartarate. A typical high quality chardonnay grown in California has a cumulative acidity of 0.58% with a PH of 3.4 (Bettiga, 2011).

Performance factors

The production of high quality chardonnay grapes requires consideration of the best climate, soil properties, and viticultural farming procedures. Chardonnay grows best in cool climates. It can grow well at a temperature range between 14 and 18 degrees Celsius (Bettiga, 2011). Chardonnay can grow on a broad range of soil types. Deep soils found in valley bottoms provide the highest vigor for chardonnay especially if they have high moisture content. However, growth on low vigor soils can be improved by using rootstocks of high vigor. Additionally, the plant grows well in calcareous soils. Trellising is important in the growth of chardonnay and is done by positioning the shoot vertically. A good method is the one that directs vertical growth of the plant by using catch wires. This exposes the fruit to the sun and allows the wind to go through it lowering mildew as well as the odds of rotting. Irrigation is also important for the growth of Chardonnay since as aforementioned, this plant requires high soil moisture. Irrigation is particularly useful during the dry season. Research also suggests that irrigation, even in humid environments increases berry weight which translates to higher yields (Bettiga, 2011). Nowadays irrigation can be done using computerized irrigation systems.

Three Wineries in Different Appellations

Hanzell Vineyards is a winery in Sonoma County and is the maker of the Hanzell “Sebella” Chardonnay 2013. This wine has Sonoma Valley as its appellation. This white wine has strong aromas of white flowers, jasmine, honeysuckle, and citrus which lead to scents of beeswax, lemon zest, pear skin and kumquat (, 2013). The wine has flavors of nectarine, wet stone minerality, and green apple, which are all real to nasal senses. The wine’s bright acidity adds balance to its richness and incorporates unmatched purity to its flavors. The chardonnay used to make this wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks after which it underwent aging for 8 months in French Oak barrels that were one to five years old (, 2013). Hanzell chardonnays are all made to undergo malolactic fermentation except the “Sebella” in order to keep is fresh. This helped to preserve the considerably high acidity of this wine. It underwent zero percent barrel fermentation unlike the Monterey 2012 Chardonnay which follows in this discussion. “Sebella” chardonnay has a varietal composition of 100% chardonnay. This wine has an alcohol content of 14.20% and comes in 750 ml bottles. It costs between $35.96 and $39.95 per bottle (, 2013).
The Monterey 2012 Chardonnay as the name implies has Monterey as its appellation. This wine is made by La Crema wineries. The chardonnay grapes are grown on the Vineyards of Monterey on California’s central coast. These vineyards are known to have continuous ocean winds blowing across them. The strong winds in combination with scarce rainfall and abundant sun give this region a long cool growing season. The northernmost end of the valley has the coolest vineyards allowing chardonnay to develop impressive aromatic and textural characteristics. To give Monterey Chardonnay intense aromatics along with natural complexity, different clones – Rued, Clone 4, and Dijon were chosen for its preparation (, 2012). Just like the 2013 Hanzell “Sebella” chardonnay, La Crema wine was made from 100% chardonnay. The considerably mild conditions under which this chardonnay is grown allow slow ripening of the fruit hence it stays longer on the vine. This property of hanging for a longer time on the vine made the chardonnay used to make this wine have a lush fruit property and a higher concentration of natural flavors. Harvesting of the grapes was done early in the morning to ensure that they reach the winery while still cold. The grapes were then pressed to tank as soon as they arrived at the winery and were then allowed to settle for one day (24 hours) ( The contents were then barreled to allow for barrel fermentation. The barrels used were 64% French and 36% American oak. The blend underwent malolactic fermentation in the barrels by a house strain ML culture. Stirring of the wine was done every 3 to 4 weeks and it was aged for 4 ½ months. This wine is acidic with a pH of 3.65. It has a slightly lower alcohol content compared to the 2013 “Sebella” chardonnay since it has an alcohol content of 13.9% (, 2012). This wine costs $20 per bottle, which is less than the “Sebella” chardonnay.
Made by Fresno State Winery, the 2012 San Joaquin County Chardonnay consists of rich apple, spice, pear, and melon flavors which make it an excellent spring wine (“Fresno State,” 2013). It is a great complement to light pasta dishes and sea food. This wine was also made from 100% chardonnay. Fermentation of this wine’s chardonnay mostly occurred in stainless steel tanks but had a small percentage of its composition fermented in barrels to add complexity. The fermentation technique used in making this chardonnay wine was malolactic fermentation just like the Monterey 2012 Chardonnay wine. This wine has a pleasant sense of body yet it is not too tannic. It has an alcohol content of 14.2% which is similar to that of “Sebella” chardonnay and close to that of Monterey 2012 Chardonnay (“Fresno State,” 2013). A bottle of 750 ml costs about $12.95, making it the cheapest compared to the previous two wines.


Bettiga, L. (2011). Chardonnay. Retrieved April 21, 2015, from (2013). 2013 Hanzell ‘Sebella’ Chardonnay Sonoma Valley. Retrieved April 21, 2015, from
Fresno State Winery. (2013). 2012. San Joaquin County Chardonna. Retrieved April 21, 2015, from (2012). La Crema Monterey 2012 Chardonnay. Retrieved April 21, 2015, from

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