It is official. The 2010 crush season is now history and will go down in the books as the year everything came at once. The usual two and a half month grape receiving period was condensed into one, leaving the crush team to a one-month human vs. grape slugfest. A lot of long days and cold nights—luckily for us, however, this was also the year of the heated crush pad.
As many of you know, we have moved into our new winemaking facility—equipped with floor drains, humidified barrel rooms and even a flat screen TV to watch the Pats on during our Sunday lunch break. We couldn’t have asked for a better facility to help meet the challenges that this year brought us.
While the west had an unusually cool growing season, the east had a particularly warm and sunny one. The Cayuga we sourced from New York is going to make a very pleasant off-dry “Perfect Stranger.”
While some of the red grapes we received from California and Washington may not have had their characteristic ripeness (some may even say over-ripeness), the cool 2010 vintage brought a more balanced acidity that I have not seen in the past, generally lower alcohol levels, and, perhaps most prominently, darker and more vibrant pigmentation. Some of the early standouts this year include Malbec, Petite Sirah and a Merlot that is destined to be part of a 2012 Bordeaux blend. We have also made a dry, fruity Syrah/Grenache rose’ this year that should be a nice compliment to the tasting lineup.
In many ways, it was the ideal conditions for many of the white varieties that we brought in. The grape chemistry (brix, TA and pH) was more in line with old world regions like Mosel, Alsace and the Loire Valley. I’m looking forward to helping these fresh, fruity wines like Chenin Blanc find their way into bottle. We are, however, making a “New World” style Chardonnay that is going to be 100% neutral and re-coopered barrel fermented, which allows for oak flavor, but not overbearingly so—a trend many Napa wineries are switching to.
As the holidays approach, we are thankful to take some time to relax and reconnect as the reds go through malo-lactic fermentation and the whites settle out in tank. It is definitely gratifying to see full barrels and tanks again, and the promise that each wine holds for the future. I think we are in line for another great year.