Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mid-Harvest Report

Wow...this year started with anticipation of an early harvest due to a hot August month on the West Coast.  However, September arrived with an abrupt cool down and grape ripening of many varietals & regions slowed to a crawl.  I was literally gnashing my teeth as I was waiting for grapes to arrive.  Well, be careful of what you ask for! 

The surprise of the season was that the first juice to arrive was actually pinot noir from Westport Rivers Vineyard here in Westport, MA.  Yes, certain varietals grow well in MA along the southern shores of Cape Cod.  This pinot noir is destined for a light rose style that will be released in May of 2014 just in time to enjoy for summer.

A full 10 days later, I finally had the first of my West Coast grapes arrive...and then the deluge descended!  Within 4 days, over 2 tons of grapes had been crushed and were fermenting away.  Petite sirah and cabernet sauvignon from the Suisin Valley just to the southeast of Napa Valley in CA.  Merlot & viognier from Knights Hill Vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills AVA of the Yakima Valley in southeast WA.  The red grapes were destemmed & fermented in open vats while the viognier ended up being barrel fermented in a new French oak barrel.  I'm only planning on completing the alcohol fermentation & MLF in the barrel & then move to a SS tank to provide just a touch of oak for creaminess & palate roundness.

So far, I'm very impressed with the fruit this year.  The winery is full of big fruity aromas--blackberry from the petite sirah, raspberry from the cab sauv, & blueberry/mulberry from the merlot.  The viognier smells like honeyed peaches & floral blossems as it bubbles away.  As you can imagine, the winery is a little busy at the moment! 

But we're not done yet!  Chardonnay juice from Westport Rivers has just arrived and will also undergo barrel fermentation.  Tomorrow, the Durell Syrah from Sonoma County arrives as frozen must (to capture the flavors & aromas straight off the vine).  This weekend I go down to RI to pick merlot & cabernet franc for the limited production of "Merrimac Left Bank".  I'm told the WA cabernet franc & Paso Robles petite verdot will arrive towards the end of next week.  And last but not least, the Shenandoah Valley Zinfandel will be custom crushed & frozen for me so I can wait to deal with that in a month or so.

Lots of fermentations going on.  The petite sirah and possibly merlot will be pressed on Saturday so a little space will be freed up for the incoming grapes.  The cab sauv is undergo a very slow but steady fermentation--the color extraction due to the low temp extended fermentation is simply out of this world!

And on top of that, there's the Carm-ah that's almost ready to bottle.  A winemaker's job is never done...and man do I love this job!


Friday, October 4, 2013

2013 Harvest is Here! thing you never quite forecast is how much work it is getting all the last minute details of a basement finishing project completed.  Seems like I have not seen the light of the sun this summer while I was painting, painting, painting, and more painting.  Besides some furnace room doors that still need staining & varnishing, all the pieces came together in late August and that project has largely been completed.

Just in time for the 2013 harvest season!  I actually got a jump on the season last week when I got notification that the pinot noir juice I had ordered from Westport Rivers Vineyard was going to be ready.  This vineyard is special in many ways, but not the least that it's located in Westport, MA.  Yes, high quality vinifera grapes can be grown in New England but only certain varieties and in certain locations.  The Russell family has located a unique property along the southwest coast of Cape Cod just 1 mile from the beach.  The vineyards border the Westport River as it empties into Buzzards Bay.  They've taken pains to only plant early maturing vinifera varietals like chardonnay, riesling, & pinot noir that are capable of ripening in our New England climate.  The vineyard is a beautiful piece of property and I feel lucky to source some of my starting materials from them.  The pinot noir has been happily fermenting away since I brought it home and is intending to form the base of our first rose wine.  Crisp, fruity, clean, & delicious on a summer day after it's released in the spring.

The excitement continues on Monday with the delivery of cabernet sauvignon & petite sirah!  I'm really looking forward to working with these grapes from the Suisin Valley in California that form the basis of our PS Project red blend again.  The 2012 PS Project is in the bottle and I must say that even I'm impressed with it.  Fruity with a tannic backbone that lingers on your tongue.  2012 was an excellent year, but what I've heard so far indicates 2013 will be even more spectacular.

What else is on tap?  Well, sit right back and I'll tell a tale, a tale of a budding winery...

Westport MA Chardonnay
CA Paso Robles Petite Verdot
CA Sonoma Valley Durell Vineyard Syrah
WAYakima Valley Viognier
WA Yakima Valley Merlot
WA Yakima Valley Cabernet Franc

and last but not least...

RI Merlot
RI Cabernet Franc

The later are from another special vineyard that I chanced upon.  Mums the word on more but trust me, finding high quality merlot & cabernet franc here in New England is quite the coup for Aaronap Cellars!

It's going to be a busy fall so stay tuned.  Find Aaronap Cellars on Facebook for last minute details as the season progresses!