How wine is made



Place matters a great deal when it comes to winegrowing. The climate, elevation, exposure and drainage of a plot of land make all the difference. The hands that care for the vines are equally as important; shaping the canopy, dropping fruit, and turning irrigation valves.



Months and months of effort, all in preparation for that fateful meeting where the harvest decision is made and the transformation begins.



When the fruit comes into the winery, the cellar crew goes about separating the grapes from the MOG (material other than grapes). They must meet the Martins’ demand for ripe berries – nothing green, nothing shriveled, nothing damaged.



Marbue’s goal as a winemaker is to tell the story of where our wines come from and seamlessly bring them to bottle as the purest expression of the soil and environment in which they were grown.



After fermentation, the process continues with different aging techniques and a barrel program with an impressive variety of cooperage and toast levels.



Last comes the endless blending trials, mixing vineyard blocks with different varietals, clones and rootstocks to achieve the right balance of approachability and ageability.

Marvels of engineering

Caves naturally provide both high humidity and cool temperatures. While a 60-gallon barrel stored in an above-ground warehouse loses four gallons to evaporation each year, a barrel stored underground loses just a quarter of that. A constant temperature between 55° and 60° is also necessary for the wines to age well. Wine caves naturally fall right into this zone.

Tour the Caves

Gold foil & wax seals

Once we had the name “Italics” we wanted the label to simply frame the word. It is a pretty interesting name, after all. So we figured, let’s just get out of its way. But then the designer showed us what it would look like with name embossed. We really liked that. Then he added gold foil. We liked that even more. And then he showed us what it would look like with an embossed border and a wax seal and…

We said “Yes” to all of it. The labels are even printed on a stock so thick that the labels have to be applied by hand, one by one, well after the wine has been bottled. Did things get out of hand? Maybe a little. But we have no regrets. The packaging perfectly expresses the product: rich, refined and classic. But to the folks in Accounting, it says we’re nuts.

Total Phenolics Scores

An excellent napa valley cabernet


Italics Cabernet


Down to a science

There is a science to how we experience wine. A science that breaks down wine into its key chemical components to determine the optimal levels of extraction while the grape skins are in contact with the musts. This is what determines a wine’s color, flavor and texture. This is the science of phenolics and it is unambiguously predictive of a wine’s quality.

One of the values measured by this science is Total Phenolics – a measure of how “extracted” a wine is. An excellent Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon might have a reading of 3,000 IRPs (iron-reactive phenolics). Our Cabernet, by way of comparison, scored 4,433.

Does this mean you’ll enjoy it more? Quite possibly, yes. Higher IRPs suggest better body and mouthfeel for many wines. And added complexity and life expectancy for many others.

The science is breathtaking in its implications. It could challenge the very role of critics in evaluating fine wines. But just to be safe, we haven’t scratched them off our holiday card list.

Plan a Tasting

A boatload of water

Happily, we are among the first wineries to pipe in reclaimed water from Napa Valley’s new recycled water project. There, wastewater is treated through a series of processes – settling, oxidation, clarification, coagulation, filtration and disinfection – then pumped back out to customers. Obviously, anything we would use to irrigate our vines has to meet strict standards, not just for clarity but also salinity and toxicity. This does.

The benefits of using recycled water are twofold: we help preserve the amount of potable water for human consumption and we limit the discharge of treated wastewater into the Bay. Now if only we could clean up our Sales Director’s expense account.

The water we use to irrigate our vines during the growing season and clean our equipment is equal to 100 swimming pool’s worth of water.

Going solar

Wineries suck up a lot of electricity. So when we installed our solar array, we saw it as a cost-cutting move. Turns out the benefits to the planet are even greater.

By generating almost 100 kilowatts of electricity – roughly what we use in a year – the array keeps 100 tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Over the system’s 50-year working life, it will produce 6 million kilowatts of energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5,000 tons – the equivalent of 5 million miles of driving.


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