We’re getting ready to bottle our vintage 2019 Chardonnay. This may not be our long term label, but it’s a fun start.
Each week we are rotating through our different types of fungicides.
The baby grape clusters are doing their thing. The tendrils are shooting out reaching for sunlight.
It‘s mid May 2021. Our dormant pruning efforts in early March paid off. At the first sign of bud break in May we returned to Liberty Lake to begin our Spring maintenance.
Last year we waited to spray fungicides until we visibility saw damage. This year we are spraying before the spores appear.
First fungicide application was copper based.
A week later we (Ron) sprayed with Sulfur. In this photo you can see we also Captan which we may use in a third rotation.
Here‘s a glimpse of what‘s going on in the vineyard right now. Everything has leafed out and fruit set has begun … if not has been completed (unsure). In an effort to get better fruit we trimmed the vineyard of all the shoots growing downward or laterally or those addition off shoots that try to produce fruit. It‘s the hardest part emotionally to do. Some choices are obvious, while others are painful – We hate thinning out clusters. We removed almost 2 full buckets of shoots with probably over 100 grape clusters.
We had a few friends over last night and decided to take them down to the cellar to share in our first taste of our 2019 vintage of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
First our Chardonnay. We only have 1 carboy of Chardonnay from our estate grown Wente 72 clone – planted in June of 2017. This Chard has undergone crush, press, primary fermentation and malolactic fermentation – It has been racked off the lees a few times and has a really wonderful color and clarity to it. Best of all – we poured 6 tastes; and everyone agreed it looked, smelled and tasted like Chardonnay … good Chardonnay!
After the taste we topped it again with argon and put the airlock back on. It’s ready for bottling which we will do toward the end of May.
Moving on … like a true flight tasting. We next tasted our practice batch of Pinot Noir which was made from grape must be purchased frozen from Brehm Vineyards.
Again .. excellent color and clarity. We aren’t great at identifying the nose of wines. Sometimes we recognize a hint of berry or chocolate .. much of the time if we read the label or someone suggests what the tasting notes are .. then we are easily swayed to believe that. Our wine vocabulary sounds more down-to-earth. We use words like YUM or SMOOTH, or SOFT or HEAVY. We are still learning. Not only on growing and making wine but tasting wine. We already know how to drink wine. Lots of it .. but it takes some effort to slow down and really taste it.
The Brehm is also in really great shape. We know that red wines will mellow out as they age so the slightly heavy tannins we tasted will probably smooth out. This wine has undergone 2 different MLF inoculations. Malolactic fermentation which introduces a bacteria that turns the malic acid into lactic acid .. giving wines like many reds and Chardonnay a nice mouth feel. We will be bottling this carboy in May.
Our estate grown Pinot which was harvested very early in Sept of 2019 due to an impending SNOW on Sept 9. Our brix was only 16-17º – on average and we needed 23º. We were forced to use a process called Chaptalization (adding sugar .. a lot of sugar) to the wine. Not enough sugar= not enough alcohol .. and nobody wants that! So we added 19 pounds of white sugar from the local restaurant supply store!
This wine is lacking color. We have 4 carboys of it. 3 of them are straight free run. Free run comes from putting the fermented grape must into the press and just letting it gravity drain into a carboy without using any pressure on the skins. In a perfect harvest – the free run has the potential to be the creme de la creme of your batch of wine. In our case .. in this vintage of grapes – not quite ready for picking … our PRESSED wine has more potential . As for the clarity .. it’s slightly cloudier than the Brehm and it tastes a bit like a Boones Farm fruit wine. The jury is out on what we will do with these carboys of wine.
Needless to say when we planted this Vineyard Project we never expected to be splitting our time between two homes. Any winemaker professional or backyard enthusiast will tell you that growing and producing wine is a year-round venture.
Nevertheless here we are. It’s early spring at 47° 39’ and were back to give the vineyard a very important haircut. Spur pruning while the vines are still dormant to get rid of the year old “wood” from last year.
From Silver Oak Cellars who can explain it better than I can, “Spur-pruned vines have the look you might expect from grapevines. They are cordon-trained, meaning they have that classic “T” shape you see when driving by a dormant vineyard. All the wood that makes up the “T” is old wood that has been trained over many years into that shape. Those horizontal arms are called “cordons,” on which are spaced vertical spurs every six inches or so (approximately a hand-width). It is from those spurs that we get new vine growth each season.”