Winemaking Philosophy

Winemaking’s not a formula where you take grapes and yeast and combine them in a tank. It’s about responding to individual characteristics; taking care of any problems that might arise along the way; shaping the wine in a continually weaving, responsive process that is truly satisfying. It’s not like being in a factory—it’s creating a work of art.

— Bill Arbios

Our Arbios Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon is crafted in classic Bordeaux-style to have moderate alcohol and good fruit and character. As a winemaker, Bill likes to be “honest” with the fruit, avoiding overripe characteristics that do not promote longevity. He enjoys the marriage of art and science that is required in good winemaking.

Although Bill has been known for his blended wines, he now prefers the additional challenges and artistry that go into making wine from a single vineyard - capturing the essence of a time and place. Bill relies on vineyard manipulation such as canopy management to reach his goals. “Speckled shade” leaf removal allows the grapes adequate exposure to the sun without cooking them and increases the development of deep color and ripe fruit flavors. Strategic shoot position is also critical in obtaining maximum photosynthesis. This orients the leaves for maximum exposure to the sun, avoiding shading adjacent vine row, enhanceing airflow through the vines, and minimizing the risk of mold and mildew development.

In addition, careful attention is paid to vine nutrition with a comprehensive composting program that leads to increased vine vigor. Both drip irrigation and regulated deficit irrigation are practiced in the vineyards. This method of limiting the irrigation forces the vines to struggle in a manner conducive to exceptional grape quality.

Caring for the grapes doesn’t end in the vineyard. In order to fully extract the grapes’ color, cold maceration is used before the fermentation and extended maceration after the fermentation. At all times, only the most gentle handling and passionate care are used to ease the transition from vine to bottle.

After fermentation, the wines rest until "ripe" in French oak barrels for 24 months or more. Bill believes strongly in the careful and efficient barrel selection, focusing on barrels that bring spiciness and chocolate or coconut tones to the flavor profile of his wines, while avoiding barrels that bring a more aggressive wooden edge to wine. Barrels with an extremely fine grain wood, like the barrels produced by the well-known cooperages Sylvain or Taransaud, are preferred. Bill experiments with toast levels to achieve a balanced hint of smokiness in the wine that cannot come from the grapes alone. This balance is the key as Bill feels strongly that oak is to be used as a spice, not an ingredient.

When the barrel aging is complete, the wine is gently moved to tank and blended together. It is then lightly filtered and bottled in our signature, 24K gold enameled bottles and sealed with the highest quality cork available.