Monday, September 8, 2008

Reporting from all precincts ...

I sent a scattershot note to a group of regional wineries asking if Saturday’s tropical storm had any effects on their harvest. What follows if their replies. And, as always, my public thanks to everyone who responded.

Jerry Forest,
Buckingham Valley Vineyards: No serious issues in Buckingham. We harvested 15 tons of Cayuga on Friday before the pending storm; clean fruit, good sugar, Ph and acid. We mechanically harvest, so we can pick 6+ tons per hour day or night with one person. It’s great for bringing in the crop before a storm. We got 4” of rain on Saturday, but no high winds, and great drying on Sunday. We netted some reds today (to hang for 2+ more weeks), and plan to pick Chancellor tomorrow morning. All varieties are doing well and ripening somewhat earlier than normal this year. Overall, another great harvest! Thanks for asking.

Brad Knapp,
Pinnacle Ridge: We harvested Cayuga for our sparling Blanc de Blanc on Friday in order to beat the rain. Cayua have a tendency to split when they get rained on at harvest so we wanted to avoid that situation if possible. We got 2.25" (could have been worse) and things look reasonable. We will be picking Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for sparkling wines this week.Vickie Greff, Blue Mountain Vineyards: Thank you for the contact regarding our harvest. Fortunately we did not plan to harvest this past weekend so the weather was not a factor. Although it did put a damper on our Annual Adopt a Vine Ceremony, which took place on Saturday, September 6th. We still gave out the plaques, however the adoptive parents were not able to go into the vineyard to place their plaques on the vines. They took a rain check for next year's Ceremony. Regardless of weather we still had a wine tasting accompanied by snacks and our seasoned parents were given their commemorative bottle of wine! We will most likely begin our harvest next week, of course weather permitting. Due to the predominately dry summer it looks to be a great harvest. We did need the rain this past weekend, but we are hoping for very little rain during harvest and a long lasting warm fall.

Carole Kirkpatrick,
Kreutz Creek Vineyards: We had no problems from the storm, we did not yet start harvesting.

Anthony Vietri,
Va La Vineyards: All is well here. Par for the course and all. I try not to get either too anxious or too excited; it just all plays out the way it's going to play out, and all I can do is applaud.

Carl Helrich,
Allegro Vineyards: I haven't started picking yet, so, yes [we got through it OK]! We'll start this week with some hybrids. Chard will be toward the end of the month along with Merlot. Cab and Riesling in October.

Morris Zwick,
TerrapinStationWinery: We got through OK. We picked second block of Cayuga on Friday instead of Saturday [obviously[ as it was ripe and ready to go. Everything else seems unaffected. We already had some downy mildew problems in one field, so the storm did not help that, but we put a spray down and should be able to manage it. We are likely to pick our Traminette this weekend since it was fairly close last week and the weather looks favorable for some catch up ripening.

Jason Price, Twin Brook Winery: Yes we made it out okay. We were concerned some of the hybrids might swell and burst. Biggest annoyance was crushing in the rain. We crushed and pressed 3 tons of Cayuga Saturday morning. tried to hurry and get the grapes in the press before the heavy rains started. Almost made it. Made clean up a whole lot easier.

Fridays Creek drying out, set to bottle reds

The early assessment from at least one regional winery is that Hanna’s cloudbursts on Saturday did no more than take away a harvest day and spoil some events that were planned.

Frank Cleary Sr. of Maryland’s
Fridays Creek Winery in Owings, Md., said yesterday afternoon the storm that swept through Saturday morning didn’t produce the damaging winds that were feared and that the rain, while substantial, should have little effect on the quality of the harvest.

“We were pretty thankful,” he said. “We had picked quite a bit [already] but we did jump in and pick in advance of the rain and we probably didn’t have to. I mean, it was OK, we could have let it hang. Now we probably will lose a little bit of
Brix on the sugar content. We’re going to check it tomorrow [Monday] and see if any of it dropped down a little on what’s still hanging.”

That there’s so little left to pick off the vines doesn’t mean anyone at the winery has found a cot to enjoy the cool, sunny days forecast for the rest of the week after tomorrow’s cold front moves through. Cleary said they’ll soon start bottling their reds, including a red estate wine they call Rubilee. This is the third year they’ve bottled the hybrid grape, a high producer developed by Cornell under the original name of GR7. They made a very small batch out of the 2005 harvest and made a little more out of the ’06 crop. Cleary said they might get around 25 cases out of the ’07 juice that has been aging about a year and, continuing the trend, could fill around 100 cases next year with what they’ve just picked off the vine.

Cornell came up with the name of Rubiana for the grape, but told Fridays Creek that “we couldn’t use that name. So that’s where we came up with Rubilee as an alternative," Cleary said. “It’s a heavy red; it probably would make an excellent port . . . but that’s not what we’re doing [with it] now.” Asked to compare it to a wine readers might recognize, he said it’s “closer to the local hybrid Chambourcin [than anything else].”

This one ages about a year, as long as the rest of Fridays Creeks reds. “Sometime you can pull them out a little earlier depending on whether it’s a brand new oak barrel or whether it’s been used once before,” he said. “Basically putting it in oak, you’re looking for the oak flavor. It would age just as well in steel. But it wouldn’t have the oak flavor.”

You’ll be able to sample, if I may, the fruit of their labor at Saturday’s open house, scheduled for 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Two 2007 wines that will be offered for tasting are the 2007 Seyval Blanc and the 2007