America’s Most Popular Champagne
For more than 135 years, Korbel has been bottling some of the finest California champagnes from its facility located along the scenic Russian River Valley. Long considered the nation’s champagne, you’ve likely popped open a bottle to celebrate a milestone in your life, as have many American presidents throughout the years. (Since 1985, Korbel has been selected as the official champagne of the last nine Presidential Inaugurations.)
Korbel has held fast to the time-honored French tradition – méthode champenoise – where the champagne is fermented inside of the same bottle from which it’s served.
First, wines are made (most popularly from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes) and fermented in casks until ready to be taken out to create a cuvee blend. The cuvee blend is then added to a champagne bottle along with further yeast and sugar. Next, the bottle is capped where the wine is fermented for a second time, inside the bottle.
During this second fermentation process, yeast eats away at the sugar, creating a natural carbon dioxide (the bubbles Korbel California champagne is known for). The longer the yeast is given to eat away at the sugar, the smaller the bubbles become, and the finer the champagne. The bottles, initially upright, are then flipped 180° upside down for more than a year to “riddle” the yeast sediment into the neck of the bottle and complete the fermentation process.
Once the second fermentation process is complete, bottles are carefully moved (with the yeast sediment now in the neck of the bottle), and the yeast sediment is frozen in place at the bottle neck, and extracted. Dosage (sugar) is then added (the percent of dosage is what makes champagne dry or sweet), then bottles are corked, caged and labeled.
Interesting Korbel California Champagne Facts
° Did you know that according to tradition, the uncaging of the cork on a champagne bottle requires only six turns? The next time you pop open a bottle of Korbel, give it a try!
° Korbel lists the percentage of “dosage” on the back of each bottle, to help buyers determine how dry or sweet the champagne is – check for it the next time you’re purchasing Korbel California champagne. For instance, Korbel’s popular Brut has a dosage level of 1%, making it dry champagne, and its Sweet Rosé is at 6% dosage – a much sweeter varietal.
° People often ask what the difference is between a champagne and still wine grape. The actual grape varietals used are exactly the same. The only difference between the two styles is when the grapes are harvested (grapes used for champagne are harvested much earlier). Unlike wine, champagne is meant to be consumed quickly, not aged and shelved for long periods of time.
History Buffs Take Note
A complimentary, captivating 50-minute tour departs daily 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., from the Korbel Railroad Station that was built in 1876 (a former railroad station on the tracks laid by Korbel which ran through the estate to San Francisco as a thriving supply line). This fascinating historic walking tour takes visitors through the antique Korbel wine cellars (built in 1886 and completed in 1890, using redwoods from the property) and history museum, full of artifacts from the winery’s inception. Be sure not to miss the short film on the history of Korbel.
Tastings and the Korbel
Delicatessen & Market
Korbel treats visitors to four complimentary tastings per person (for groups of less than 20), 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., daily. Several Korbel champagne varietals can only be tasted and purchased directly at the tasting room or through Korbel’s wine club. Besides California champagne, Korbel also produces still wines that can only be purchased at the winery or through the club, as well as a variety of brandies.
For a more personalized experience, or for those celebrating a special occasion, Korbel also offers private tours and tastings led by a dedicated tour guide. The private tours and tastings require a reservation made a minimum of 10 days in advance and with a minimum of 10 guests in the party, and are based upon availability. Parties of 20 or more must have a reservation. All private reservations are treated to a 15% discount on KORBEL products. The cost is $20/pp.
While visiting, plan for lunch at Korbel’s full service, award-winning delicatessen, open daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can choose from a gourmet boxed lunch (advance orders recommended) that includes a gourmet sandwich, handmade pasta salad, seasonal fresh fruit, a house baked cookie, soft drink and utensils. The deli also makes made-to-order sandwiches, salads, soup du jour, espresso drinks and more.
The Korbel Garden Tour
Korbel’s Garden Tour is offered mid-April through mid-October, 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday – a nod to Korbel’s rich farming history.