Finally, it has dried out. I can walk in the vineyards and my back yard without worrying about sinking into a puddle. Since my last update we have still had several more storms however it has not been everyday and we have at last seen a return to sun which gave us a few weeks of normal summer weather. Despite this, the humidity has stayed very high and has caused growers to continue to be on their game with fungus sprays. Downy mildew has been widespread this year. This week brought many storms as a cold front moved through and now our forecast says nights in the 50s with highs in the 70s over the next week or so. Luckily it is supposed to be relatively dry over the same period. If this continues it should make up for the crazy rain from earlier in the “summer”.
The reds are just now going through veraison but many of the white hybrids are within a few weeks of harvest. We are starting our Aurore harvest tomorrow for sparkling and we will continue almost constantly until mid-October. The vinifera is very exciting this year with the cool nights. It should be a beautiful year for acid assuming the rest of the fruit is clean. If we get a moderately warm September with low rainfall and cool nights, this vintage could be spectacular. It is still too early to tell but the vines are healthy.
Blaufrankisch at the start of veraison
I’m getting ready to crush Blaufrӓnkisch (Pronounced Blaw-fraan-kish) for the first time for the 240 Days Project. I’ve never worked with this variety but I’m extremely excited about it for the Finger Lakes. It is an Austrian variety, mainly grown in the Burgenland with characters similar to Syrah but with a Cabernet-like structure. Most of the local wineries call this variety Lemberger and many cite Blaufrӓnkisch’s challenging pronunciation as the reason to do so. I have my own thoughts on this since we haven’t found another name for Gewürztraminer (Ge-vurz-tra-meen-er) yet and goodness knows that one is equally challenging. Blaufrӓnkisch is a deeply colored variety that ripens a week to week and a half ahead of where Cabernet Franc ripens, making it very appropriate for our short growing seasons. In anticipation of the small but fun project, I’m going to do something else I’ve never done; I’m going to ferment it in barrels. That has necessitated me purchasing coopering tools, pictured below. These will help me remove the hoops and heads then retighten the hoops in order to be able to stand the barrels on their remaining head and dump in the harvested fruit.
Barrel Wax, Head Tool, Hoop Hammer, and large L shape is a Head Holder.
This is something I had always wanted to do with the To Kalon fruit in Napa but we never got around to trying it before I moved. I think the roundness of the palate of the Blaufrӓnkisch and the spicy character will pair nicely with the natural structure and complexity of an oak fermentation. There will be challenges since these will need to be punched down rather than a pump over. The early cap work I usually do during a red fermentation will be much harder. I am considering getting a wader and punching down by foot but we’ll see.
Today, I’m off to China for the final trip of the Ningxia Winemaker Challenge. On August 29th we all find out how we did over the past two years. This has been an incredible experience and one which I will remember forever. I can’t wait to find out how the wine is received.