The harvest is upon us.
The possibilities endless, the future unknown. It’s a very exciting time.
I love harvest season. I can smell the heat of fermentation and yeast in my sleep. I actually have come to crave that overwhelming fragrance by the time the next season rolls around. But I also lose a lot of sleep, not only because we are busy night and day, but because my fear of failure kicks in and rightly so. I think the thing I have found most difficult about this art is that you get only one shot per season. One chance to make that hedonistic Chardonnay that people will either love or leave. One chance to cold-soak for just the perfect amount of time, not too much tannin, good color extraction, perfect protein bonds. And if you go one day too long? Not necessarily ruined, but definitely not optimal, and you’ve got to then work with what you have. Or my nightmare, since we are not with our fruit in the vineyard, that my growers succumb to picking crew pressure and pick 3 weeks early, or late, and then what do you do with substandard fruit? Wine is absolutely made in the vineyard. The careful eye of the farmer, the seasoned knowledge of knowing when to drop crop, when to adjust canopy, and when to finally call it a vintage and pick. These people create the foundation for a beautiful glass of wine. Without the proper shepherd to guide the vines from dormancy to harvest, the winemaker doesn’t stand a chance. If I am lucky enough to get beauty in the harvest bin, my only job at that point is not to screw it up.
But the harvest pressures are great for the farmer. From personnel nightmares (everyone’s crop is always ready at the same time), to tank space (the winemaker’s tanks are all full and she can’t take another load until something finishes the ferment), to late season rainstorms bringing mold and mildew, to the pressure of thousands and thousands of hungry birds who can smell a ripe grape three states away. For farmers, there is never any guarantee of any crop, until the winery signs the receipt ticket. It’s a long year for them.
With that said, the early thoughts on the 2016 vintage is that it will be one for the record books. Cooler weather that has set in now, lets the fruit obtain maximum physiological ripeness, while not spiking the sugars out of range. The drought suffered by most of California is devastating, along with the fires, but grapes are a hardy vine. And the fruit does benefit from stress. So these circumstances can actually come together to produce some of the most magnificent wines. Only time will tell.
We’ve recently enjoyed our 4th annual Summer Dinner on the Patio. Our guest chef this year was Joan Raymond, and a stellar addition to the kitchen was she. We had a terrific group of diners, some previous, some new, and I hope you guys make as many memories as I do in the kitchen! So happy that “the Don” also had our deck done in time! Always grateful to have him and his skills around the winery!
So besides all of the new harvest excitement, we’ve got some excellent wines coming out. We recently bottled our barrel-fermented series of Bordeaux varietals. And if you’ve forgotten about those, don’t fret, it’s been two years! These are our most important wines (from a winemakers point of view). And by that, I mean, we pulled out all of the stops. We bought the best fruit from the area that is now the Moon Mountain appellation (it became that after the harvest in 2014). Very desirable microclimate. We sourced Cab Sav, Merlot, and Carménère from this region, and Cab Franc, and Petite Sirah from the Chalk Hill appellation. The best of these grapes went to a destem only, then into new French oak barrels. We had small feet do the “I love Lucy” stomp, okay, Marty’s feet were slightly bigger, but a big shout out to Natalie and her beautiful girls and Marty for the stained legs! This wine was fermented entirely in these new French oak barrels, which requires two new barrels to make one barrel of finished wine. It’s a lot of investment, it’s a big commitment, and we really had no idea if it would be worth it. The thought behind this technique is that during the ferment stage, the heat produced will help the tannins in the oak and fruit integrate more quickly and thoroughly. The wine will be silkier, more voluptuous, and more cohesive when put to bottle. I would say a resounding yes to all of those. But you be the judge. We’ll be releasing these new wines at our Harvest Pick-up Party on October 1st. They will be available in the tasting room at and our supporting stores after that, probably nearing the holidays. A word of caution, we only made one or two barrels each of these wines. So that’s only 25 cases of some. Don’t wait too long, as I’m sure they will sell out (or Don will keep most of them for himself to drink).
As if that wasn’t enough excitement, we’re going to bottle with the two “banks” in September. These are the two Bordeaux blends. One is a Cab heavy blend (left bank), the other a Merlot dominant (right bank). If you like blends, and who doesn’t, these wines are not to be missed. I would say as the winemaker, the artistry involved in making a blend is serious business. But to see these come together and show their stuff makes my heart sing. These two wines, along with the barrel fermented Petite Sirah will be available on the winter shipment and in the tasting room.
If you’re interested in a fall tasting at the winery, please excuse our busy schedule, and it may very well be with our Tasting Coordinator, Carrie Gray. Carrie has been kind enough to help me out with tasting groups, events around Boulder, and our wine club parties. She’s got great knowledge of the wines, and would love to take care of you at the winery.
If you have any wine needs, just send me an email, and we’ll fill your cellar. Also, look for us at B-Town liquors on a Friday in October (date to be decided) where we’ll most likely be pouring at least one of our newest wines.
To say the year has gone by at light speed would be an understatement. So many days filled with amazing people, wonderful discoveries, and cherished time to consider this life. My gratitude for each of you and your support in this endeavor is boundless. If this passion is only a pathway to lead me to know so many generous, caring, amazing people, then it is a life well spent.
So I’ll take my one shot, roll the dice, and see just what kind of cards the universe has dealt us this season. And I will be happy to share successes and failures with you, my friends, because a glass of wine amongst friends makes everything better.
Wishing you the best of everything, and the most wonderful people to share it with.
Molly, Don, Roxy and the Goose
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