Napa Valley experienced a bountiful year for Chardonnay in 1997, in that higher than average yields were experienced, yet the grapes showed great quality and character. Along with these ideal conditions, the harvest was early and the grapes for this wine were picked before the brief harvest showers that occurred in the later weeks. In order to retain this fruit quality, once at the winery, the Chardonnay grapes were gently transported directly to the press for "whole cluster pressing". This minimal handling technique of neither crushing nor destemming the grapes maximizes natural fruit flavors while minimizing bitter tannins from skin and seed contact. After this gentle pressing, the juice was settled and then fed into new Medium Toast French barrels for un-inoculated yeast fermentation. The indigenous yeast fermentation prolongs the fermentation for better barrel integration and complexity. The wine completed malolactic fermentation and spent a total of over 12 months sur lie stirred periodically in the same barrels for added richness, complexity and mouthfeel. To retain maximum varietal character and preserve the full flavors imparted by the oak treatment, the final wine was lightly fined, but not filtered before being bottles.