Viewing entries tagged Riesling

And now for the clusters...

Posted by Tom Higgins
Tom Higgins
Owner, Winemaker, Vineyard Manager & CTO (Chief Troublemaking Officer)
User is currently offline
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.

 

Bloom to Fruit Set

Posted by Tom Higgins
Tom Higgins
Owner, Winemaker, Vineyard Manager & CTO (Chief Troublemaking Officer)
User is currently offline
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)
User is currently offline
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)
User is currently offline
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)
User is currently offline
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.  

alt

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.

 

 

More Riesling Blending

Posted by Tom Higgins
Tom Higgins
Owner, Winemaker, Vineyard Manager & CTO (Chief Troublemaking Officer)
User is currently offline
on Thursday, May 03, 2012
in Cellar

altThe past few days we've been finishing the tank blends on the next set of four Rieslings - the 2011 Dry Riesling, 2011 Hobbit Hollow Vineyard Riesling, 2011 Patrician Verona Vineyard Riesling, and 2011 Nutt Road Vineyard Riesling.  The Dry Riesling has a snappy, crisp finish while the single vineyard lineup (Claddagh Club only) demonstrates just how significant the site differences can be in influencing the aromas and flavors in the glass.  We'll be shooting for bottling by the end of this week, let the wines settle down in their new environment (a bottle), and look at releasing them in a couple of weeks.

The Clusters Peek Out

Posted by Tom Higgins
Tom Higgins
Owner, Winemaker, Vineyard Manager & CTO (Chief Troublemaking Officer)
User is currently offline
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.

 

Bottling the 2011 Reserve Riesling

Posted by Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Thursday, April 26, 2012
in Cellar

altThis week, Tom, Conor and I  bottled the 2011 Reserve Riesling.  It's not every vintage that we choose to make a Reserve Riesling, but this year, as we tasted through the tank samples, it rapidly became clear that 2011 would deliver a reserve offering. The actual bottling process usually happens in a single day, but the team usually spends a couple of days preparing the wines for bottling.    After the final test blends are selected, the winemaking team cleans and sterilizes 2 tanks, one for blending, and one for bottling, then create the final master blend.  The wine is then sterile filtered, and then rests while the team prepares the rest of the equipment.  Then it is on to more cleaning and preparation… the lines and the filler must be cleaned, the glass, closures and other equipment must be prepared.  Then, finally, we begin bottling the wine!

 

 

altThis Riesling bottling was special for an additional reason:  we are introducing new Riesling packaging. Historically, we have bottled much of our Pinot Noir under a glass closure, yet we never had access to Riesling bottles which were compatible.   This year, we were able to find Riesling bottles which work with the Vino-Lok closure (more to come on this)… and the glass happens to be a beautiful deep green color!  Can’t wait to see what the finished wine will look like once our labels arrive!

Readying the Rieslings

Posted by Tom Higgins
Tom Higgins
Owner, Winemaker, Vineyard Manager & CTO (Chief Troublemaking Officer)
User is currently offline
on Monday, April 23, 2012
in Cellar

 

Because of the inclement weather, we decided to focus our attention on indoor activities.  The early Spring has led us out of the cellar and into the vineyard, prolonging some of our normal seasonal cellar tasks.  One of those tasks is wrapping up the blends on the Rieslings so they are ready for bottling.  But today is just as good of a day as any.

 

While many people believe that the best part of being a winemaker would be tasting wines all day, I can assure you, creating the blends can be pretty nerve wracking.  Let's start with the basics on the Rieslings from the 2011 vintage.

 

altReserve Riesling

The first past is to taste each tank of Riesling and take notes on aromas, flavors and finish. Then, we need to decide if there were any tanks that would provide the basis for a "reserve" bottling (we don't do this every vintage, the last being 2009).  The 2011 vintage has three candidates that made the cut.  So each of these tanks has to go through a series of trials in different percentages to determine how those aromas and flavors impact each other.

 

Single Vineyards

Next up, the single vineyards candidates.  We have three single vineyards that we are working with which are in seven different tanks  - two Nutt Road, two Patrician Verona, and three Hobbit Hollow.  So we start with Nutt Road and start with a series of blends of those two tanks (25/75, 50/50, 75/25).  Once we establish how each of those taste, we are better able to predict the influence of one vs. the other.  Thus, we can come up with a blend of 90 to 10 if we really liked the direction of the 75 to 25 tank blend.  Then we have to repeat this for the rest of the single vineyard wines.

 

Dry Riesling

The Dry Riesling was next on our list.  This blending process was a little more rigorous because we were pulling samples and blending trials from all nine of our tanks of Riesling.  With multiple passes and trying to identify a more firm, rigid structure to be a part of the 2011 Dry Riesling yet trying to preserve the balance in the glass can be a little more maddening.  Granted, we are spitting all the wine during this tasting, but you find yourself constantly challenged to find just the "right" blend.

 

Riesling

Last, but not least, would be our house-style Riesling.  This is usually what one would define as semi-dry to semi-sweet.  The vineyard blend each vintage is different along with the different levels of residual sugar.  Again, the nine different tanks are selected for this trial with each tank varying in their aromatics, flavors, and finish.  Numerous passes are made and tanks that seem to "fit" a little more with the traditional style of this wine are usually selected.  Multiple breaks are usually needed to refresh the palate so we are making the best decisions.  In all cases, we let the final cut sit a night or two so we can return and be assured that the blend is where we want it to be.

 

Next Up

Now that we have all the blending trials wrapped up, we're looking forward to putting all the pieces together and getting these wines into the bottle over the next couple of weeks.  Be on the lookout for more bottling updates.

Preparing the vines for the 2012 vintage

Posted by Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins
Susan Higgins has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Friday, April 13, 2012
in Vineyard

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