Monday, August 24, 2009

Waltz Vineyards looking forward to excellent yield as vineyard manages to evade severe storms

The next five weeks holds the key to the quality of the 2009 vintage. A dry, warm September and all that rain from the spring and summer becomes a distant memory. Well, except for all the aches and pains that still linger from the extra work that the rain necessitates.

One winemaker who says he's been fortunate enough to dodge most of the intense storms is Jan Waltz, at Waltz Vineyards in Manheim, Pa., a new winery and already one of my favorites. They've built a lovely tasting room and the wines (from the Chardonnay through their signature Merlot to their high-end Cabernet Sauvignon) are all worth a taste.

Stopped Monday to grab a bottle for a shoot we're planning at the Harrisburg Patriot-News, and while there had a chance to barrel taste the 2008 Merlot and 2008 Cab. Both are rounding nicely into shape.

Waltz said that even a rainstorm last Friday that dumped more than 2 inches of rain didn't set back the vineyard because it had enough dryness to absorb what fell. "We could see it all [heavier rain and haul that fell in Lancaster and surrounding communities] from here, but we missed it," he said. "The rain either follows the valley or follows the mountain, so most of the time it goes around us. We're on track for a good year."

Waltz said he expects an exceptional yield out of his Cabernet Sauvignon. "I think this is going to be a great Cab year, because [it's] further ahead than what we normally are."

Business, he said, has been picking up steadily since the spring opening, even on Thursdays and Fridays. The tasting room is open noon to 5 p.m. those two days and Saturdays. To handle the crowds and the parties, they've added a hire, and could add another once they expand their hours to Wednesday and perhaps Tuesday. They are planning to be open holidays, including Labor Day in another couple of weeks.

Though not part of a wine trail per se, Waltz said he's seeing visitors who are making up their own wine trail, doing a circuit that includes Nissley, Tamanend and Mt. Hope along with Waltz Vineyards. And other wineries in the Harrisburg area and north and east along the Berks County Wine Trail are within an hour's drive.

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