Friday, October 8, 2010

Tricia's First Weekly Update!

N.B.  Tricia's entries will appear regularly on Fridays; a deadline this post technically makes (if not in the spirit we intended).  Make no mistake, Tricia completed this post much earlier in the day, but due to all the work happening that she mentions below I fell flat on getting it up until now.  Enjoy!

So, today I blog.  Anyone who knows me intimately, or has tried to communicate with me via e-mail or cell phone, knows I may be the least likely blogger in the Finger Lakes.  My girls say I repel technology.  My cell provider has stopped calling to suggest I upgrade my ancient phone--I think I finally made it onto the Hopelessly Prehistoric list.

In fact, some readers may not believe I am writing this post myself, but I am.  Why?  I agreed initially because Kelby, being bright, young and technologically-savvy, assured us that people want to know what is going on here during vintage and, like Horton the Elephant, he has shown us that you are out there and you are interested.  To my surprise, I am finding that I am thrilled to be able to tell you about some of the things we have been working on this past week--it has been a Finger Lakes Winemaker’s dream. 

On Saturday the 2nd, we crushed some beautifully ripe Lemberger and Cabernet franc.   Because we brought in all of our Lemberger—more than 15 tons--we had plenty of material to play with.  Being curious winemakers, we set up several trials.  Some fermentations are progressing with an addition of oak chips—some toasted, some raw—to see how fermentation in the presence of oak affects the mouthfeel and potentially the color stability of the finished wine.   We also set up trials to examine what happens to the color and the texture of the wine when we add various tannins at the beginning of fermentation.  The hard part is waiting for the wines to finish fermenting so we can get some early indication of how the treatments will affect our wine now and make predictions about how the wines will age. 

Then things got really exciting:  On Saturday night, Peter Bell, Peter Howe, and Kelby stayed late to press Lemberger rosé.  The grapes slated to become rosé had been crushed in the morning and the juice was kept on its skins and seeds until nighttime.  When the juice picked up a beautiful magenta-pink color, the fellas made the call to press.  It’s fermenting slowly but steadily, and is already showing a range of exotic flavors.  Right now, it reminds me of pomegranate, blackcurrant and raspberry---really delicious!  Rosé used to be winemakers’ closely kept secret.  Consumers saw pink wine and thought it would be sweet and simple, and weren’t really interested in rosé as a category.  Then they found out that the best examples are brilliantly balanced between white and red wine in terms of texture, and have pretty berry aromas plus something earthy, which makes the wine interesting rather than simple.  Of course, now we winemakers have to share our rosés with the world, but we’re actually quite happy to do that.  We’ve been perfecting ours over the last few years.  Small-scale trials led to a small-scale commercial production—just a few cases last year.   The public’s reaction was tremendous—we created instant rosé fanatics, and those who tried it last year have been begging for a 2010 version.  Happily for all, it is on its way.  Just that darned waiting thing again….

The next torment will be waiting to taste the Lemberger Port.  Just a few days of fermentation gave us a Port with plenty of juicy goodness with enough wine character to be entrancing to grownups.  Yesterday, it got a quick pressing and fortification and into barrels it went for a long winter’s nap. 

Monday’s highlight was a trip through the vineyard in the chilly rain with Kelby and Mackenzie. Despite frozen fingers and dripping faces, we cheerily collected Riesling grapes from every plot where they grow on our 54 acres of vineyards.  We inspected the blocks for Botrytis—hoping to see the good version (Noble Rot) rather than the bad (bunch rot!)  We found our grapes still in great shape and touches of excellent Botrytis. Back at the winery, we crushed the samples and tasted them.  Kelby and John Kaiser (our vineyard manager) are putting together a database of information on each of the blocks on our property to track everything from botrytis levels to harvest chemistries to tasting notes.

On Wednesday, we bottled our 2009 Cuvée.  The then-still wine went into bottles with a dose of yeast to referment.  We’re one step closer to finished sparkling wine!  We’ve laid the bottles down in dark bins, where they will stay for another year.  By then, the yeast will have contributed a little more alcohol and their lovely bubbles as well as some creamy textural elements.  I can’t wait! 

Yesterday we crushed and pressed about half of our Riesling.  We were nearly done when the power went out, forcing a delay.  The lull provided us the opportunity to sneak off to the tasting room where our brand new Executive Chef, Jarrod Crytzer, was hosting his first tapas evening.  We feared a disaster—no electricity, no cooking, no lights, maybe no guests?  Peter Bell said, “Poor guy!” just as we opened the door to the dark tasting room.  To our delighted surprise, candles were glowing merrily on tables, guests were chatting in cozy huddles, the food had been prepared before the power quit and it was exquisite.  We were met with cheers of “Look who it is!” as our bedraggled and grape-juice coated group entered their midst.  “You have to try this:  pumpkin crème brulée paired with Drink New York Riesling!  It’s unbelievable!”  And it was.  Kelby had tipped me off to the surprising match earlier in the afternoon.  Peter Bell and Kelby had gone to the tasting room the afternoon before to make sure that the perfect wines were selected to complement the food, and to be sure the food complemented the wines selected.  We were delighted with the unexpected opportunity to drop in during the tapas event and are eagerly anticipating the next one.  Eventually, the lights came on, and we went back up the hill to finish our winemaking work for the night. It was a late one for the guys.  I got a dispensation around nine to get home to my fabulous girls.  I miss them a lot on these long days.    

Today, we are crushing and pressing more Riesling.  Nothing could make me happier. 

So there you have it:  a week filled with making our favorite wines: every style of Riesling, Port, sparkling wine, and rosé.  What could be better?  Of course, the theme seems to have been hurry up and wait.  The hurrying is easy. 

Thanks for tuning in, or whatever hip word you use in the blogosphere.  I can feel my daughter’s eye rolling from 26 miles away.  “Please stop saying, ‘hip’, Mom.  I’m begging you.”  I’ve heard it often.  I’ll get there—blogging is my first nanostep into the current century.  Better late than never.   

À la prochaine,


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