2023 Estate Verjus  

Last year, Chef Thomas Bellec spotted vibrant clusters of unripe green grapes and wanted to find a way to utilize them in his cooking. Although these grapes are not ideal for wine, they are perfect for creating verjus. Verjus originates from the French expression “vert jus”, which directly translates to “green juice.” Verjus is a versatile kitchen essential and is known for its gentle acidity and sweet-tart nonalcoholic juice. It is best used as a vinaigrette or citrus substitute. Chef enjoys adding such a unique flavor to his dishes and often features the ingredients in Rooted and Atelier menus. He loves using verjus in a marinade, a salad dressing, or a sauce because it’s subtle and floral and won’t interfere with the flavor of the wine it’s paired with.  

This year, Chef Bellec and our winemaking team, Cary Gott, Bob Cabral, and Tom Pierson, collaborated to produce a larger amount of Verjus to be used in our culinary program and to be enjoyed by guests.  

In August 2023, Chef Bellec and a small team from Advanced Viticulture harvested over 400 pounds of unmatured Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes from the recent “green drop” at the Bricoleur Vineyards estate. Green drop refers to the practice of selectively removing grapes that are lagging in ripening to maintain consistent quality and uniformity among the remaining grapes on the vine. 

On the same day, the grapes are transported to our custom crush facility Punchdown Cellars in Santa Rosa. The grapes are initially pressed in a hand-crank fruit crusher, which softens the unripe grapes. They are then pressed a second time in a manual fruit basket press. Our winemakers cranked the press to get the juice from the grapes. This juice was then strained and placed into kegs with dry ice to stop any fermentation. After the grapes are pressed for a second time, we are left with the stem, skin, and seed “cake”. This cake of skins, seeds, and stems was transported back to the Bricoleur Vineyards estate and used as compost in our estate garden. 

We were excited to hand bottle 12 cases of verjus in 375ml bottles. We plan to use half in the kitchen and offer the other half to our club members.  

We plan to release our 2023 Estate Verjus this October.  

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