Harvest kicked off at our Anderson Valley Estate at the end of August and was completed by September 18th (save for the late harvest Chardonnay which will be picked in the next few weeks). Cool nights in early summer, heatwaves (especially the one over labor day weekend), and hillside vineyards all played a part in making the 2017 harvest unique. We caught up with our director of agriculture and our Anderson Valley winemaker to get a peek into how this vintage is going.
We harvest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at night because it’s cooler and the grape quality is better when they’re cool and crisp.
Winemaking starts with farming. How do our farming practices set up up for success?
Joseph Hardin, director of agriculture (JH): Our organic, sustainable, integrated farming system relies on each part of the ranch to contribute to the health of the whole. Timing also plays a large role in harvesting the highest quality fruit.
When the heat wave came through Anderson Valley in the middle of August, how did that affect our fruit?
Stéphane Vivier, Anderson Valley winemaker (SV): Through the heatwave, the vineyards held up very well; our fruit looked really good. We knew the pick date was going to change, we just had to watch and check often to determine by how much. The biggest impact was that we had to speed up picking from a two to three-week stretch to picking everything within ten days. That was intense!
JH: Basically, we’re dancing with mother nature and she’s always in the lead.
How will this translate to wine?
SV: From the extremely cold spring and early summer nights (temps dropping to 40 degrees) to the heat waves at the end of summer, the weather this year led us to a longer bloom time and smaller clusters and berries which resulted in a lower yield with fantastic quality of fruit. The wines will be a little more powerful this year but with the same vibrancy and freshness as prior vintages.
So once you’ve determined the fruit is ripe and ready for picking, how do you decide where to start?
JH: We pick on a lot by lot basis and keep each lot separate throughout crush and fermentation until blending takes place. We want to make sure the juice is good before we blend certain blocks together because you can’t ever un-blend.
Can you tell us a little bit about where we are in the winemaking process for a few of our Anderson Valley wines?
SV: Sure, we harvested our Chardonnay the first week of September. After spending 3-6 days in stainless steel tanks for primary fermentation, we moved it to 25% new French oak barrels for secondary fermentation where it will stay for 12-18 months. We harvested the Pinot Noir during the first week of September. It is finishing right now in tanks and heading to secondary fermentation in 25% new French oak to age for 12-18 months.
The Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir Blanc was also harvested during the first week of September. The Pinot Gris had 6 days fermentation in stainless steel tanks and is now finishing fermentation in oak (no new oak) for 7 months. The Pinot Noir Blanc had started fermentation in stainless steel and is currently aging for 7 months in 5% new oak.
What are your overall feelings about this vintage?
SV: The Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are showing great freshness compared to 2016. The Chardonnay is showing a lot of floral character and elegance. It will be accessible and balanced at an earlier age compared to the last two vintages which needed more time in the bottle. The 2017 vintage will be more old world/old school wine, which is really great. The wines are going to be mind-boggling!
ARTISAN OF THE MONTH
Name: Shelley Bernard
What is your role at Long Meadow Ranch (LMR)?
Preservationist, responsible for creating all jam, jelly, preserves, dried fruit, and peppers, sauce (was labeled as puree), pickles, non-alcohol cordials, cocktail bases.
How long have you been with LMR?
1 year 3 months
What has been your favorite project at LMR?
Hoshigaki (dried persimmons) - The beauty of making hoshigaki is watching the amazing transformation of an astringent and fairly inedible fruit into a delightfully delicious dried fruit, perfect to use from a topping on salads to enhancing charcuterie boards. Truly an ugly duckling story.
What do you wish other people knew about LMR?
With the breadth of the organization as stated it’s still an intimate place to work, you know the people around you and the goals of the organization. Quarterly meetings get everyone on the same page.
Tell us how you got into cooking/preserving. Was it a natural fit from the start or did you take various avenues before landing in the field?
As long as I’ve been working at LMR I’ve been preserving professionally, however, I have been making preservatives since I was roughly 8 years old. We had a large blackberry bush near my childhood home and my mother and I would make blackberry jam. I definitely took various avenues to get to preservation, I have worked as front of the house in hospitality, bartending, management positions, veterinary technician- it wasn’t until Chef Barber came to me and we discussed the potentials of preservation that I entered this field.
What kind of trends are you seeing in the culinary industry?
Pretty much exactly what Long Meadow Ranch represents, farm to table, using every aspect of plant and animal, the engaged/environmentally conscious and trying to think about the future of the world.
What inspires you?
Gardening, fresh produce, and deciding what to do with them later.
Best vacation you have ever taken?
Bora Bora- it was stunning!
Red or white wine?
It depends on the season- red in the winter and white in the summer, or just a lot of red.
Bike or motorcycle?
Impartial, I like to bike but I’ve also been on a few motorcycles.
Sushi or pizza?
iPhone or Android?
That’s funny- I have always been an “Apple girl” but I’ve been thinking recently about changing to an Android.
Mountains or ocean?
Both- that’s why I live in Napa, it’s two hours to the ocean and two to the mountains.
AT THE TABLE
Sweet figs wrapped in savory prosciutto with hints of creamy blue cheese pairs perfectly with our 2015 Long Meadow Ranch Chardonnay from Anderson Valley.
Prosciutto Wrapped Figs with Blue Cheese
Recipe Courtesy of Michael Markoff
Serving size: 3
3 large figs
3 ounces of blue cheese - crumbled
3 thin slices of prosciutto
1 cup of wild arugula
2 T Long Meadow Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 t balsamic vinegar reduction (recipe below)
splash of lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste
½ cup pickled red onion (recipe below)
1 bottle 2015 LMR Chardonnay, Anderson Valley (optional)
Wash the figs, cut in half lengthwise and put 1/2 an ounce of blue cheese in the center of each half
Carefully wrap the prosciutto around the fig
Heat up a sautée pan to medium-high heat with 1T of the olive oil
Season the outside of the prosciutto wrapped figs with a pinch of salt and pepper
Sear on both sides until golden brown
Toss arugula with remaining olive oil, lemon juice and pinch of salt
Arrange the figs on top of the arugula and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar reduction
Garnish with pickled onion
Pour a glass of wine and enjoy (optional)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Place 2 tsp of balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pot, bring to a simmer over medium heat, cook until reduced by half
Pickled Red Onion
1 cup julienned red onion
2 T white sugar
1 T salt
1 cup rice vinegar
Add the sugar and salt to a small sauce pot. Add the vinegar and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Bring the mixture up to a boil.
Pour the vinegar over the sliced onion. Press the onion down so all the pieces are submerged, then let the mixture cool to room temperature.
Once cool, transfer the onions and all the brine to a lidded container. Store in the refrigerator.