Are we there yet?
Each year when I write this particular newsletter, we are either still buried under a pile of grapes or as in this case, mostly finished with the heavy work load. It is a great time to reflect upon what the vintage has given us and how we responded to it. The challenge is to keep the same intensity and focus that was fueled by anticipation and adrenaline at the beginning of the harvest. Honestly, I do look forward to the finish as much as the process itself. The conundrum is that once it is over, I lament its end. So I guess the journey is the goal rather than ‘are we there yet ’?
2016 appeared to be another vintage like 2015 with much variation in ripeness that echoed the variability at bloom during the spring. Most of the 2016 wines that are now in barrel I see as being quite structured, leaning slightly more heavily on tannin than last year ’s acidity-focused structures. I ’m excited about the potential for both kinds of vintages. They are different kinds of good. Overall, yields seemed about the same as last year (which was fairly light) with some blocks heavier and others lighter – nothing really dramatically different there.
Harvest 101: After the grapes arrive to the winery, the whites and rosÚs are immediately pressed, and fermentation is usually completed in barrel within 6 weeks or so. With the reds, they are typically fermenting in the tank on skins for about a month with some going close to two months before pressing. It is this stage of pressing the later reds that I am at as I began writing this. Tonight (10-25-16), I have pressed the last of them. I have been watching/tasting each tank pretty much daily after they are done fermenting to determine when it is ready to press, when angles and rounds have positioned themselves in fairly equivalent prominence for this stage. I figure out the order they will want to be pressed so that I can devote pretty much the whole day to pressing slowly, doing micro blending trials with slightly increasing pressure levels as the day progresses. It makes for very long work days and gets in the way of (not-really-needed) beauty sleep and writing this to a degree that frustrates Judi very much ‘isn’t it ready yet? ’.
The new wines in this offering pretty much represent the core of our Pinot Noir focus and a nice cross-section of some of the other wines. We have consumed these nightly with dinner in preparation for this release. I am really happy with this lineup. These wines span several vintages and pretty much the breadth of Sonoma County which I love more dearly each year.
Download the complete newsletter below to learn more.
- 2014 Helfer Vineyard Chardonnay
- 2013 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
- 2012 Hallberg Vineyard Pinot Noir
- 2011 'Sasha' Russian River Valley Syrah
- 2013 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon