St. Francis' Merlot Reserve is produced and grown exclusively from a 20 acre parcel situated in the heart of the estate vineyard in Sonoma Valley. The soil formation is distinctive, well-drained with rock, gravel and loam topsoils which yield small quantities of grapes per vine and an excellent concentration of fruit. The vineyard's cool microclimate is moderated by breezes from the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay and characterized by the morning and evening fogs. These cool night temperatures are critical to the development of complex fruit of superior quality. Vines are drip irrigated and canopies thinned by removing leaves from the vines to increase exposure to the sun, concentrating color and flavor. Harvest customarily occurs between mid-September and the end of October.
The fruit is harvested by hand and crushed into temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Fermentation takes place in 8 to 15 days. The different lots are racked into new and one year old French and American oak barrels, and remain separate during the 24-30 month aging period. The blend is then assembled. Bottling takes place without fining or filtration and the wine is held nine to ten months prior to release.