Viewing entries tagged Pinot Noir

And now for the clusters...

Posted by Tom Higgins
Tom Higgins
Owner, Winemaker, Vineyard Manager & CTO (Chief Troublemaking Officer)
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on Sunday, May 05, 2013
in Vineyard

 

altWith the San Diego-like temperatures this past week (clear, sunny, mid 70's), the vines made a quick leap from bud break to a first showing of the clusters.  The forecast for this week doesn't look like there will be much of a change, so we're probably going to see some significant growth this week.

 

What are the next tasks?

We'll begin the process of "suckering" this week to remove the shoots that have emerged from the trunk.  This allows the vine to focus on putting energy into the shoots on the fruiting wire for this seasons production.

 

Next, we will do some shoot thinning to remove shoots that are too close to each other.  The grape clusters need appropriate air drainage, so it is important that each shoot (bearing 2 clusters) has its own space.  It is much easier to perform this task at this point in the season when you can use your fingers. As the shoots mature and harden off, pruning shears are required for removal, and the task becomes more difficult.  

 

We will continue to post photos and updates as the 2013 season progresses, so be sure to check back to see where we are in the vineyard and cellar.

 

Harvest is here... early!

Posted by Tom Higgins
Tom Higgins
Owner, Winemaker, Vineyard Manager & CTO (Chief Troublemaking Officer)
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on Tuesday, September 04, 2012
in Harvest

 

With early bud break, early flowering & fruit set, and early veraison, is it any surprise that the grapes are ready for harvest?  In fact, this is the earliest harvest this region has ever seen!

 

On August 26th we brought in a little over four tons of hand-picked Pinot Noir grapes for our sparkling program (Blanc de Noir & Brut Rosé).  The Blanc de Noir grapes are hand-sorted, destemmed and then immediately pressed to eliminate drawing out colors and flavors from extended skin contact.  The Brut Rosé is also hand-sorted, but we allow it to spend a little time on the skins to draw out some fresh strawberry and cherry components from the skins.  This year, we allowed the juice to be in contact with the skins for 20 hours before pressing.

 

Both styles of bubbles will ferment until dryness and then we will allow the wine to rest over the winter before bottling in the spring.  If the fermentation esters are any indicator of the flavors in the finished wine, these bottlings will be quite exciting - everything from candied strawberries to bananas, and fresh bowls of cherries.  I'm sure Susan is salivating as she passes by the tanks, so I'm quick to remind her that winemaking is about patience.

Finally, Another Entry

Posted by Tom Higgins
Tom Higgins
Owner, Winemaker, Vineyard Manager & CTO (Chief Troublemaking Officer)
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on Wednesday, August 15, 2012
in Vineyard

 

It has been way too long since my last post - but I have good reason.  Since the dramatic change in color with our Pinot Noir fruit, there has been an increase in the bird population on the property and much more pressure to get some netting out rather than get another diary post out.

 

So here is what has been going on:

 

Rolling Out The Nets

altOnce veraison started, it was time to minimize the damage to the fruit.  Birds of all types can contribute to a myriad of problems including higher disease pressure or turning a cluster to vinegar.  To avoid this, we have to protect the fruit:  especially red varieties, and especially those that ripen early such as Pinot Noir.  There are several different types of nets that can be deployed - nets that cover multiple rows, cover one row, or nets that cover the fruit zone.  We selected the type of nets that cover the fruit zone which will allow us to continue driving the tractor down the rows without issue.  Also, we will be able to simply roll up the netting and connect it to the trellis wire at the end of the season - so that in years to come, we can simply release the nets and drop them into place.

 

altLeaf Removal In The Fruit Zone

Another critical step for the success of a tight cluster variety like Pinot Noir is the removal of leaves in the fruit zone.  This step allows for proper air drainage along with sunlight penetration to dry the fruit out more rapidly when we have either rain or morning dew.  However, we must be careful of the quantity of leaves removed along with the side of the canopy from which the leaves are pulled.  Typically, when rows run South to North, we would only want to remove leaves on the Eastern side of the row in order to avoid having the grapes be damaged with sunburn from the more intense afternoon sun.  Pictured is our assistant, Conor, removing the Eastern leaves from the fruit zone on the middle block of our vineyard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prepping For Harvest

There are a number of little things that need to be cleaned up, oiled up, and double checked to make sure they are still in working condition.  Most of our harvest equipment is used in a span of 6 weeks, so now is a good time to start cleaning out the cobwebs and testing it out.  It should only be a few weeks before the first fruit arrives so the pressure is on!

 

Pinot Noir Clusters 7/27/12

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Pinot Noir Clusters 8/15/12

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Bloom to Fruit Set

Posted by Tom Higgins
Tom Higgins
Owner, Winemaker, Vineyard Manager & CTO (Chief Troublemaking Officer)
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on Tuesday, June 12, 2012
in Vineyard

altThe conditions for bloom to ensure a proper fruit set were not ideal, but what can you expect in the Finger Lakes.  Nevertheless, we woke up Sunday morning (6/10) to fruit set on the clusters.  It's too early to tell if there is any unevenness in the berry set, but in the next week we'll have a better idea if some of this wetter weather impacted bloom.

 

The past week, we've been focusing on shoot thinning and positioning.  I'll post some pictures of before/after here shortly (when I have some additional time).

The Grapes are Blooming!

Posted by Tom Higgins
Tom Higgins
Owner, Winemaker, Vineyard Manager & CTO (Chief Troublemaking Officer)
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on Thursday, May 31, 2012
in Vineyard

On May 29th we received quite a scare. A "microburst" of 90 mph wind ran through our area and took down a number of trees along with severe rain and hail (read the NOAA report here). Fortunately, we dodged both the extreme winds and hail and only received a touch of the rain.

 

altMay 30th delivered a different surprise - bloom in the vineyard. The fragrance is remarkable and makes the vineyard work much more pleasant. And while it's wonderful to work out there, this time for a wine grower can be pretty nerve wracking. Weather like rain, hail, wind, and cool temperatures can impact the delicate flowers and cause uneven fruit set despite the close proximity of the stamen to the ovaries (vitis-vinifera are able to self-pollinate). Multiple daily checks from the different weather services are normal protocol now.

 

And while all the great weather technology is available, we are still reminded that mother nature is in control.

Reinforcements have Arrived!

Posted by Tom Higgins
Tom Higgins
Owner, Winemaker, Vineyard Manager & CTO (Chief Troublemaking Officer)
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on Monday, May 21, 2012
in Vineyard

 

altSome replacement vines have arrived.  Occasionally, a vine is struck by the tractor or just doesn't seem to perform like the surrounding vines and needs to be replaced.  These vines are marked in the Fall and are ordered from the nursery.  Once we are in the clear of any additional frosts for the season, we have the vines shipped out from the nursery.  Next, we break them out of their packaging and let them rest in the barrel room to keep them cool and out of the sun.  The roots need to be watered multiple times a day in this state.  Once we are ready to plant, we'll place the vines into buckets of water to allow them to have one last opportunity of a good drink before they go into the ground.  The matching clones are chosen for the rows we are working with and, with a shovel, we remove the old vine and replace it with the new.  Lastly, we give the vines a little shot of water so it will be able to have a good start on firing up the shoots for the season.

 

A Little Bit of Frost Damage

Posted by Tom Higgins
Tom Higgins
Owner, Winemaker, Vineyard Manager & CTO (Chief Troublemaking Officer)
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on Saturday, May 05, 2012
in Vineyard

 

We were met with some pretty cool temperatures (29 degrees) last weekend and after a couple of warmer days, we were able to assess the damage.  It looks like the frost was minimal at best.  Maybe one bud per three vines.  

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In fact, a number of the buds that were damaged were at lower heights on the trunks - potentially saving us some addition time with the later process of "suckering" the vines.  Also, we haven't begun "shoot thinning" yet, so we should be able to work around many of the toasted buds in the fruit zone that probably would have come off anyway.

 

In speaking with other growers, it looks like the highest damage numbers might be around 30%.  With those percentages, I'm really glad we dodged a bullet this time around and I'm hopeful the warmer temperatures will persist.  Thank you Cayuga Lake.

 

 

The Clusters Peek Out

Posted by Tom Higgins
Tom Higgins
Owner, Winemaker, Vineyard Manager & CTO (Chief Troublemaking Officer)
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on Friday, April 27, 2012
in Vineyard

 

altThe vineyard has some additional excitement this week - the first clusters of 2012 began to emerge.  While these clusters are smaller than your pinky fingernail, we're thrilled to see this development knowing how much effort has gone into the vineyard thus far.  We still have quite a bit of the season ahead of us, but this is a promising sign of things yet to come.

 

Uneven Development

Depending on the area of the vineyard and the clone, some shoots are already out 2" while on other vines, the buds are just beginning to swell.  We figured that by planting seven different clones of Pinot Noir and four different clones of Riesling on our site we would avoid an "all eggs in one basket" approach and benefit from the clonal differences.  Some clones may ripen earlier than others, while some may benefit from a warmer summer, and others may push buds first.  These "clones" that I'm referring to are not GMOs, but rather mutations that been observed in the plants for centuries.  Pinot Noir is one of the most susceptible grape varieties to mutation (there are hundreds of clones of Pinot Noir) and has been linked to the white varieties of Pinot Gris (or Pinot Grigio) and Pinot Blanc.  As you can imagine, there are pros and cons to each of the clones depending on the growing season.

 

Cooler Temps on the Way

As we hold our breath as we look at the weather forecast and see some cooler temperatures over the next couple of nights, we're hopeful that these low temps will be the last of our growing season.  The forecast for next week has temps in the 60's and 70's, which should put the vines in a much more comfortable place and point us in the right direction.

 

An Evening of Perfect Pairings at the Aurora Inn

Posted by Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
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on Sunday, April 22, 2012
in Events

Last night, we had the pleasure of partnering with the Aurora Inn for a wine dinner which featured Heart & Hands wine!   Dining at the Aurora Inn is always a treat - we feel very fortunate to have such a wonderful fine dining establishment just four miles away from the winery in rural upstate New York.  Executive Chef, Patrick Higgins is constantly reinventing the menu, using (or preserving) what is fresh locally, and creating innovative cuisine which is always flawlessly executed, beautifully presented and served with great care.  

 

This year, Meryl Davis, the Director of Training and Service, introduced the "Epicurean event" concept, which includes wine dinners as well as culinary classes.  For each of the wine dinners, Patrick and his team craft a completely new menu, with several courses custom-paired with specific wines from the featured winery.  This winter, the Inn hosted Red Tail Ridge and Hermann J. Wiemer wineries, and we were blown away by the wines and the food pairings, so see couldn't wait to see what the team at the Inn would dream up to pair with our wines!

Squab Tartine

 

The evening began with our 2008 Brut Rose - a release from our library.  Then it was on to a pan seared scallop over a fresh snap pea puree, with squid ink "caviar" paired with our 2010 Patrician Verona Riesling.  This was followed by a mussel bisque - which was paired with our 2010 Polarity.

 

After a brief Intermezzo, we transitioned to the Pinot Noir....  Lamb and Pinot Noir are a classic food and wine pairing - and one of Tom's personal favorites.  The 2010 Pinot Noir was paired with a lamb loin topped with fava beans, and a strawberry compote.  The compote was sweet and savory and complemented the lamb beautifully!

 

The final main course pairing was a squab tartine (pictured to the right), paired with our 2009 Barrel Reserve Pinot Noir - a pre-release of an upcoming wine.  The squab was prepared two different ways:  the breast was pan roasted, while the leg was braised. The meat was resting on a toasted house- made brioche, which rested on bourbon cherry jus.  Patrick and his team preserved about 40 pounds of fresh local cherries in bourbon last summer - and they were well worth the wait!  Beneath the breast, there was a mix of diced celery, onions and carrots with a mixture of herbs - which reminded me of the flavors and aromas in my mother's Thanksgiving stuffing. 

 

Caramel Cheesecake

And finally, we were treated to an amazing dessert, created by Trina Myers - the Aurora Inn pastry chef.   If you happen to visit the village of Aurora, but don't have time to dine at the Inn or the Fargo - Trina's specialties are also available at the Village Market, and at Dories in the summer.

 

This evening, Trina created a modified version of a Caramel Cheesecake - pictured to the left.  The crust was a honey vanilla tuile - a kind of dry, lightweight cookie.  The cheesecake was crafted from mascarpone cheese and bavarian cream, and had a rich texture, but was not too heavy.  The raspberry compote had nice acid, which helped to cut through the richness of the dessert, as did the 2010 Hobbit Hollow Vineyard Riesling.   

 

One of the best parts of the evening was being able to share the wine, and the experience, with all of the other guests at the dinner.  It was wonderful to see so many of our regular customers and Claddagh Club members... and we truly enjoyed meeting so many new people during the course of the evening! 

Preparing the vines for the 2012 vintage

Posted by Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
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on Friday, April 13, 2012
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After a relatively mild winter and abnormally early spring weather, we are experiencing an earlier than normal swelling of the buds.  The vines were planted in Spring of 2010, and this is the first year that we might harvest a few grapes from our estate property for inclusion in Heart & Hands wines.

All of the pruning is finished, and now Tom and Conor are positioning and tying the vines to the fruiting wire.

Pinot Noir Vines:  Heart & Hands Wine Company