Tag Archives: Alexander Valley

Harvest 2011 – Week 5 – Things REALLY get moving…

This week we’ve started seeing far more grapes than the previous week.  Our Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc were joined by our first Chardonnay of the season!  Fruit quality looks really nice and acids are still staying put thanks to the more moderate day time temperatures as well as the cool nights.  The Alexander Valley reds are showing signs of the same incredible color that 2010 brought us and we should start seeing Lodi Cabernet and Merlot being harvested over the next two weeks.  For Asti it seems after a crazy end to last week, Week 6 will come in like a lion and go out like a lamb as we enter the first slump of the season.  This will give us a chance to catch our breath and take stock of how things are going.  The weather for week 6, however is forecasted to be a good deal warmer than week 5 with several days topping out around 100 degrees!  Hopefully they won’t go much above that so we can avoid the September heat spike that we saw last year. 


I’m playing with the first Alexander Valley fruit from this season which is a Gewurztraminer from a vineyard in Geyserville which was harvested last Wednesday.  It’s packed with flavor and did retain some acid which is fantastic for the variety that is famous for losing acid like a woman loses last season’s out of style shoes.  I’ve set it up for a long, cool fermentation so the yeast can form the beautiful terpene compounds that make up the fruit and spice notes in the final wine.  I’m also playing with some Pinot Gris from Lodi with a couple of different yeast strains so that should be interesting to see how it goes.


As promised here is the red variety group from Week 4’s interesting varietal tasting!


Latitude 50 N Sekt Trocken Rose  Germany  $14.99

Light and Bubbly

With amazing aromas of strawberries and cotton candy this wine offered fantastic quality for the price.  A medium- dry style balanced with crisp acid and intense citrus flavors.  It’s a blend of Portugeser, Dornfelder, and Pinot Noir.  A perfect bubbly for everyday drinking at a great price, all of us decided to go in on a case!


Studert- Prum Wehlener Nonnenberg 2008 Dornfelder  Germany ~$25.00

Elegant and Floral

I have a soft spot for this variety because it’s one of the first reds I ever worked with in Pennsylvania, of all places.  However this also showed to be the hardest variety to find in the tasting. It’s known for intense aromas of Strawberries and cherries and this wine did not disappoint.  It was dry with moderate acid, medium alcohol and smooth tannins.  It’s worth the search as this was one of the best Dornfelders that I’ve ever had!


E. Pira Chiara Boschis Dolcetto d’Alba 2009 Italy    $19.99    

Elegant and Floral

This variety makes a light and easy to drink red which is perfect for lighter fare.  Moderate aromas of cherries, bramble fruits, red plum, and figs introduce the wine which has a dry palate with medium + acid and moderate alcohol.  The tannins are firm and structured but ripe.  This is a great food wine. 

Umathum 2008 Zweigelt Burgenland Austria    $16.99

Spicy and Smoky

This was a dark brooding wine with smoky gamey notes complemented by black cherry and plum.  The palate is dry with medium + acid, moderate alcohol and strong structured tannins.  Zweigelt may be a good alternative to Merlot or Syrah for those seeking something different.  This one was really nice.


Montebuena Rioja 2009   $9.99

Power Punch

Made with 100% Tempranillo this wine is true to form with aromas of cherries, raisins, lemon zest and vanilla.  The palate is dry with medium acid, moderately high alcohol, and strong, textured tannins.  Right now Spain is offering some great value for the money.  Anywhere else this would easily be an $18-20 quality wine.


Quinta das Maias Tinto 2004 Dao   $11.99

Power Punch

Another value to be had currently is dry reds made from Port varieties.  This wine is a blend of 60% Jaen, 25% Touriga Nacional, 10% Alfrocheiro and 5% Tinta Roriz.  The nose is intense with aromas of coconut, almonds, vanilla, and cherries.  American oak is clearly a favorite with this producer.  The palate is dry with moderate acid, medium + alcohol, and a full body filled with flavors of cherries, dried dates and raisins.

Harvest 2011 – Week 3 – The Pinot Commeth

We’ve begun harvesting Pinot Gris from the Central Coast vineyard, CatCanyon (also the source of the Emma Pearl Chardonnay).  Pinot Noir doesn’t seem to be too far behind in Brix so I’m sure we’ll start to see that soon as well.  Here atAstiwe have our first grapes scheduled for mid-next week however it’s mainly Sauvignon Blanc that is going to be opening our season up mixed with a bit of Pinot Gris.  The word from the Central Coast is that tonnages are down even from already reduced estimate numbers but given that we’re only 2 days in to it down there that may not be indicative of the entire harvest.  It should be an interesting season to say the least but we already knew that, right?


The weather has still been fabulous for both grapes and people with cool foggy mornings and moderately warm, sunny afternoons.  So far the forecast calls for more of the same with a slight cooling this weekend and then warming again next week.  I love it. The grapes love it.  Everyone is happy!


Personally, I love a bandage type harvest (If you get it done quickly it hurts less!).  You’re crazy busy for a little bit but you get a lot of work done and the season just flies by.  Before you know it, it will be Halloween and you’ll be breathing a sigh of relief.  Slow harvests seem to drag on forever.  It’s much better to be super busy than waiting for the next vineyard to ripen up. 


On the MW front, I’m now a little less than 3 weeks away from getting my results from this year’s exam.  I’m nervous and excited all at the same time which is a mildly uncomfortable feeling in itself.  Excited because I feel like I did well and nervous because I felt that way last year too and it didn’t turn out all that well for me.  Only time will tell for sure.


I’m excited about Fall as it seems to be showing up more and more now.  Our Bartlett pears are ripening as is my table grape vine (when I can get to the fruit before the raccoons do).  There are little signs in the trees that the chlorophyll is breaking down and little tinges of red and yellow are beginning to show through.  September is right around the corner and it’s time to begin thinking of fall decorations, spring bulb planting, and butternut squash and pumpkin bisque.


Vintage 2011, The Mid-point Check In.

When I last talked about how vintage 2011 was going in the NorthCoast was in bloom and the weather was truly dismal indeed!  Now after several weeks of beautiful, warm, sunny weather our outlook on the vintage is beginning to lift.  The rain during bloom did impact the crop levels negatively.  So far I’ve heard that Chardonnay and Pinot have been the hardest hit however it seems that it is highly dependant on site as I’ve also talked to growers who say that their Chardonnay has set normally.  Our Malbec looks spotty at Asti but that’s not terribly unusual for Malbec here even during ideal weather.  The rest of the red wine varieties seem to have set a normal sized crop however my seedless table grape set looks pretty shabby.  As this is my first foray into table grape growing, I’m not sure if it’s normal or not.  The warm weather is a good sign though because the smaller crop will ripen faster than a normal sized crop a sugar accumulates faster with less berries.  If this weather continues we may have somewhat of a normal harvest season for the whites specifically.  Already we’re warmer than we were at this point last year with several 100+ days under our belts on the North Coast.  This is also a good sign as it gives the grapes time to acclimate to hot temperatures which will avoid the “blanched” problem that we saw last year from the 3 days of 110+ late last August.  With all the rain early on the disease pressure has been high. Combined with the tricky European Grapevine Moth sprays which must be timed with the flight cycles of the moth, the growers have been kept on their toes keeping the problems at bay.  As for the winery, spirits are high with the continued warm weather.  We’re working on testing and cleaning all the harvest equipment and anticipate seeing the first grapes through the gate around mid to late August.  Our sights are set on ordering yeasts, Malolactic bacteria, and oak.  We are not, as we were this time last year, staring at the sky and scratching our heads.  We are reveling in the bright light, warmth, and soft breezes that the grapes needed desperately.  This is also the calm before the storm in the winemaking world so I’ve taken the time to reorganize my office, dust off my clipboards, and ready everything for the coming craziness.  I’m also going to be attending the Wine Bloggers Conference 2011 in Charlottesville, VA next week.  I’m super excited about this because it seems that this conference will be geared to what I am which is a wine centered blog!  Several great speakers and promising break out sessions should put me in a good mood to enjoy some wine with my husband and fellow bloggers! If you’re also attending be sure to come by during the White wine tasting session as I’ll be pouring the Emma Pearl 2009 Central Coast Chardonnay since we’re sponsoring part of the conference as well!


Here’s to a great season!!