Downes focuses on viticulture principles in order to reflect their commitment to winemaking as an expression of terroir. Technological surveys ensured that the correct grape variety, clone and rootstock combination was planted in the diverse ancient soil types. The vineyards benefit from the high altitude cool temperatures, as well as an abundant rainfall throughout the year and the prevailing cold summer wind, known as the "Black South-Easter" blowing in from the ocean 12 kilometres away. Viticulture practices and canopy management which enhance longer ripening periods capture in the wines, the broad spectrum of flavors created in the cool climate of the unique terroir.
With generous fruit and supple tannins, Merlot is made in a range of styles from everyday-drinking to world-renowned and age-worthy. Merlot is the dominant variety in the wines from Bordeaux’s Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol, where it is often blended with Cabernet Franc to spectacular result. Merlot also frequently shines on its own, particularly in California’s Napa Valley. Somm Secret—As much as Miles derided the variety in the 2004 film, Sideways, his prized 1961 Château Cheval Blanc is actually a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.