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!