First Crush

Sep 14, 2011 Posted by Richie Roberts 0

There is no looking back now, we are well into harvest and things are looking good here at the winery and out in the vineyard. We started off with a couple tonnes of Pinot Noir picked last Friday from our Jack Rabbit Flats Vineyard site in the Lincoln Lakeshore appellation, and we are continuing today with another few tonnes of Chardonnay from the same vineyard. This site always gives us our most balanced fruit, with a lot of character that you can taste in the fruit when it is harvested. These two hand-harvested picks have been pressed gently into fractions, and will be fermented separately in stainless steel and then blended together later on in the year to form the base for our traditional method sparkling wine. The juice from each variety tastes well balanced, with great acidity and concentrated flavours. Each block was picked in small crates to make sure that none of the fruit was prematurely crushed on the way back to the winery.

Another sure sign the vintage is upon us, we have started receiving new barrels that will hold mostly reds (but some whites too!) from the 2011 harvest. I’m excited to be trying out some new barrel options this year from a variety of cooperages in France, the United States, and Hungary.

Walking through the vineyards this past week I am a bit surprised at how advanced things seem (in spots). In particular some of our younger blocks seem to have fruit that is maturing quickly, and those blocks are the ones that we will probably bring in next. It seems a bit odd to start the crush (for still wines) with Riesling, but every year there are surprises because of both the vintage variation here, and the differences between the sub-appellations in the Niagara Peninsula. I think because of that, a lot of what we do has to be done by following intuition, and not necessarily based on what’s been done in past years. My short time as a winemaker has taught me that thinking a little bit outside the box almost always makes things more interesting in the final wine.

Drinking from our cellar this week: 2009 Pinot Noir, a wine we’ve just released and one of my favorites from the vintage. An ideal red to ease into the fall.

Highlight of the week:  New barrels arriving at the winery. It’s like Christmas morning for a winemaker.

“Can’t live without” item of the week: Sunscreen with SPF 30+. Very important this time of year since we spend a lot of time in the vineyard and the crush pad.

Something to take the mind off harvest: Innovative map of the wine regions of France, because everyone (admit it) gets confused on occasion with French wines (thanks to @wineboffin for sharing this!).

On deck in the next week:  Still making a lot of decisions about the coming week, but it looks like the next grapes to be picked will be the young Riesling vines from our Estate Vineyard, along with young vines from the Stouck Vineyard in Beamsville, and possibly some Chardonnay Musqué early next week.

Follow along this blog on a weekly basis, where I plan to tell you about all the fun we’re having on the crush pad trying to
make great wines!


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