11 July 2013

Hot town, Summer in the city. . . .

Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty.  At least it felt that way last month when I was selling wine back east, complete with Lovin' Spoonful stuck in my head.  Nothing like NYC at the end of June to remind one what true humidity really feels like.  Of course those of you in DC and points south are probably thinking that NYC has nothing on you.  However compared to Oregon, I'm out of practice.  Sweating through my shirt three times before noon however quickly brought back the feelings of summer in the city.  That all was my round about way of saying that our wine is now available in NYC!  Not sure why that feels like such an accomplishment but it does.  We are even on the wine list at The Old Homestead Steak House on 9th in the Meatpacking District.  Of course pinot isn't probably most people's first choice when enjoying steak but seeing it in print was very cool.  Currently you can only get the Pinot noir in NYC but the Pinot gris will be on the next order and hopefully more wines will follow.  So support your Oregon winemaker and go seek out my wine my NYC fans.  If you want to know where drop me an e-mail or give the winery a call and I'll send you in the right direction.

So while I was off gallivanting around the north east, with stops in Ohio also to sell wine and Connecticut to see my brother and his family the grapes back home were busy growing.  Not sure how big of a difference our warm spring gave us I went looking for pictures and the difference between the past two years and this year is amazing.  The first set of pictures were taken after leaf pulling the in the Marechal Foch.  I didn't have pictures taken on the same day so the one from 2012 was actually 10 days later than the one from 2013.  The difference is development is best seen in the bunch closure.  The 2013 grapes have started bunch closure and will enter lag phase soon.  In the 2012 picture look at how loose the clusters are with the stems still very visible.  These clusters are a few weeks away from bunch closure.  Click on the picture for a bigger image.
18 July 2012 - Marechal Foch

8 July 2013 - Marechal Foch
The difference from 2011 is even more startling.  In 2011, July 6th, the Foch hadn't even bloomed yet and it isn't until August 3rd, 2011 that the cluster development compares to the July 8th picture from this year.  This implies that weather holding, we should harvest almost a month earlier than in 2011.  As some of you may remember 2011 was a difficult year for us to get fruit ripe because the season was so late.  Fingers crossed that won't be a problem this year.  Again, click on a image for a larger version.

6 July 2011
3 August 2011
8 July 2013

The trade off to an early harvest is that we have to bottle earlier so blending trials will soon start in the Pinot noir.  Tasting, arguing, convincing others I'm right, discussing, finding the best blends and stained teeth are in our near future here at Airlie.  I can't wait to get started.

31 May 2013

May was good to us.

The beautiful weather at the start of the month has us averaging 2F higher this May compared to last May and with the rainfall at the end of the month we are only had a little less total rain.  Those 2 degrees however have yielded great growing results.  Look at these pictures of Muller Thurgau. One is from last year, June 6th, 2012 and the other from May 31st, 2013.  This year's vines are ahead of last years, you can tell quickly by counting the leaves on a shoot and the picture is a week earlier.  Right now we are probably two weeks ahead of last year!  Yeah!
May 31, 2013
June 6, 2012

We are ahead of ourselves in the winery too for a change.  Looking back at the past two years I wrote about bottling in the month of May and this year we were done in March.  Thus it has been rather quiet in the winery this past month.  The pinot barrels are almost done with ML, two barrels are hanging on and there are three barrels of Chardonnay being stubborn.    Tasting through all the barrels last week while running SO2s and checking pHs, multi-tasking at its best, I'm finding the tannins are trying to strip the enamel from my teeth and the spit from my cheeks, but it's early days yet so I'm not worried.  On the positive side the color is beautiful and there are some lovely dark fruit notes lurking under all those tannins just waiting for their time to shine.

In the vineyard the crew is almost done suckering the vine trunks and cleaning heads, also earlier than last year and Mary is predicting that we could see bloom starting in the Foch next week if the weather holds.  If you have never been out during bloom I recommend making the trip, the smell of grape vine blooms is something quite ethereal and rather unique.  I enjoy it every year and always wish the smell lasted longer.  Speaking of ethereally scented blooms I took a tour of a cocoa plantation earlier this spring in Hawaii and the cocoa blossom might just compare in scent and certainly is a lot prettier.

22 April 2013

Bud break!

We definitely went through bud break this month, though depending on the varietal the vines vary in how far along they have progressed.  Chardonnay is probably the most advanced with Riesling just peaking out.  These pictures were taken today.  Can you believe the weather, it is beautiful here today.

This picture is where the Riesling and Chardonnay vines meet.  It really demonstrates the differences between the varietals.

I love these pictures of convincing a chardonnay vine we really would like to to grow this way not that way!

In the winery it has been business as usual, topping, checking ML's, I still have a few lagging barrels in both pinot and chardonnay, and now checking SO2 levels in the wines which are done with ML.  This is an interesting time to be tasting the barrels because they change so much from week to week, smoothing out rough edges, integrating oak, starting to show some of their potential.  We are a long way from a finished wine though I must say.

I also had the fun job of setting up a spiked aroma trial for this weekend's pick-up party for our cellar club.  I spiked a base wine, both a red and a white, with various spices, vegetables, fruits, etc so that our customers can begin to train their noses and their memories about what different aromas smell like in wine.  It was fun to set up and begin to see the differences even between Mary and I in our own sensitivities to the various compounds.  If you are interested in doing this at home let me know and I give you a few pointers.