Sparkling wine is in the genetic makeup of Frank Family Vineyards. Our historic winery, originally built in 1884, was home to one of California’s earliest sparkling wine producers, Hanns Kornell Champagne Cellars. Decades later, Frank Family continues to honor the heritage of our iconic winery by handcrafting four distinctive sparkling wines in a range of styles, from our classic Chardonnay-based Blanc de Blancs and popular Brut Rosé to our Pinot Noir based Rouge and late disgorged tête de cuvée, named Lady Edythe.
It Starts in the Vineyard
The finest sparkling wines are crafted from cool-climate Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and Frank Family’s second home in Carneros, just like Champagne, France, is considered to be a world-class region. Spanning over 10 different vineyard blocks of various elevations, microclimates, and soil compositions, Frank Family’s Lewis Vineyard holds the key elements to build the perfect bottle of bubbly – full of brightness, depth, and allure. The unique maritime fog provides the ultimate hang time for the ripening grapes, pivotal in developing cool-climate aromatics and maintaining high acidity. Strong breezes tunneling through the vines throughout the day create thick skins and tiny clusters for an intense fruit-focused palate. The restricting shallow and dense clay loam soils result in extremely low yields, producing grapes with strong character and balanced freshness.
The fruit is harvested by hand at the peak of ripeness and in the coolness of the night to preserve the purity of the fruit flavors. Grapes are handled with gentle care as they are transported to the winery and immediately pressed. “We put a big focus on single-vineyard, house-made wines to give us total control from vineyard to bottle,” says Winemaker Todd Graff. “This ensures our high-quality standards are not just being met, but exceeded.” Indeed, each Frank Family wine is handcrafted in-house, and our dedication has earned us the recognition of leading the effort of “Grower-Champagnes” in the United States.
The Time it Takes
Frank Family employs the labor-intensive méthode champenoise to produce each of our sparkling wines, a patient process that takes no less than five years from vineyard to release. “The world’s finest sparkling wines are made by the méthode champenoise, and while it is the costliest way to produce sparkling wine, we knew there was simply no other option when it came to producing ours,” says Todd.
The process begins once a base wine undergoes its first fermentation. Then, sugar and yeast are added to the bottle which ignites the secondary fermentation, creating the small, delicate bubbles for which Frank Family sparkling wines are adored for. Each of our sparkling wines are aged in the bottle for a minimum of three years, with the Lady Edythe Reserve Brut receiving an impressive eight years of aging prior to release. This additional three to eight years resting on the lees (spent yeast cells) provides a delightful creamy and rich texture to support the natural acidity found in our Carneros-designated sparkling wines.
By continuing in the sparkling tradition of our historic property, Frank Family Vineyards is holding true to our vision of becoming a leading California “grower-producer.” Our four unique sparkling wines are finessed yet fun and are all suitable for an array of occasions, foods, and seasons. The history, love, and hard work can be tasted in ever sip!