Twomey Cellars… Soutirage Traditionnel

Only two wineries in Northern California utilize the labor-intensive technique of soutirage traditionnel, and Twomey Cellars is one of them. Developed in the 19th century in France before the invention of electricity, this technique involves the decanting of wine from barrel to barrel, using gravity rather than a pump. Soutirage traditionnel clarifies red wine, softens its tannins and infuses it with aromas that explode the moment it is poured. At Twomey, this decanting is completed six times during the 18 months of aging their Merlot.

The winery’s dedication seems to have paid off, as the Twomey Cellars 2007 Napa Valley Merlot was nominated for the 2012 People’s Voice Wine Awards. It can be described as having an enticing nose of black cherries, violets, nutmeg and dark chocolate.

Twomey’s Pinot Noir has also received accolades. The 2009 Twomey Russian River Valley Pinot Noir was named Runner-Up at the Pinot Cup competition as part of Chef Charlie Palmer’s “Pigs and Pinot” Healdsburg event in which 60 hand-picked Pinot Noirs competed in a blind-tasting. The Prince of Pinot, Rusty Gaffney, MD, claims the 2009 Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir is “a love letter from heaven.” In addition to Merlot, Twomey produces a Sauvignon Blanc and four Pinot Noirs from top California appellations (Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley, Anderson Valley and Santa Maria Valley). It is the goal of winemaking team Daniel Baron, Ben Cane and world-renowned winemaker Jean-Claude Berrouet to create food-friendly wines delicious upon release.

Taste Twomey wines at either Calistoga or Healdsburg locations. Calistoga: 1183 Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga, 707-942-2489. Healdsburg: 3000 Westside Road, 707-942-7122. Open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 5 pm, and Sundays from 11am to 5 pm. Tours of wineries are available by appointment. Please call 800-505-4850 in advance or email •

Story by Sarah Amador-Rusnak