Tag archives for “Salad”
FROM THE WINERY
Bottling: Reflecting the Vineyard and Winemaker’s Vision
The guiding principle behind bottling wine is to capture the character and flavor at the very moment the winemaker has finished cellar aging. We want to capture the wine in that state without uncontrolled and undesirable effects on the wine during bottling (like oxidation). It is no simple task but we devote a great deal of attention and focus to this.
For most of our wines, we also want them to develop in the bottle. Once we have captured the wine’s character, the biggest effect we can have on the wine’s development is through closure choice.
For red wine, our preference is to use natural cork from Portugal's cork forests. Every one of our corks has been prescreened to ensure a high-quality appearance and the absence of trichloroanisole (TCA). TCA is a naturally occurring chemical compound in cork that results in 'cork taint', an undesirable aroma that detracts from the fruitiness and character of wines. 'Cork taint' can smell and taste like wet newspaper, cardboard, or chlorine. To avoid this, our corks are soaked in ultra-purified water, sealed in a jar, and then smelt by a trained sensory panelist. Yes, every single cork.
For most white wines, we are looking for a very limited and controlled amount of oxygen to be introduced into the wine during bottle aging. With this in mind, we select a closure with a low and consistent oxygen transmission rate (OTR) - enter the stelvin screw cap on the Long Meadow Ranch Sauvignon Blanc. For our Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir Blanc, and Rosé, we like the slightly higher OTR effect of cork.
Have you ever tried to attach a sticker to a moving object and get it straight? Now try that on a round bottle! The bottling lines will move between 60 and 120 bottles per minute, the pace depends on multiple bottle styles, corks, and capsules. Bottle packaging and bottling lines have a personality of their own and behave differently on different days, they need constant monitoring, adjustment, encouragement, and a little luck.
FROM THE VINEYARD
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!
From the Vineyard
Vineyard pruning is the practice of removing last year’s growth from the vines. We manipulate the vine to give us the fruit quality, quantity, and light environment we want for the growing season. Pruning is the most important vineyard operation all year, because it casts the die for the season’s upcoming crop. We prune to create balance between vine vigor and fruit load. Pruning takes place annually when our vines are “sleeping” (aka the dormant season) and before bud break to promote growth and prevent disease. This timing is important, because all the nutrients have moved to the root from the leaves.
Pruning methods vary based on trellising. We trellis our vines in two different ways: open lyre and bilateral cordon. Therefore, they’re pruned differently too: cane and spur pruning.
Guyot Style Cane Pruning
To get started, scope out all of the shoot growth from last year and choose the four best canes to be laid down as the new fruiting canes. We’re looking for healthy canes that will promote ideal fruit orientation with open clusters, even light (sun and shade) and airflow. Remember, all vines are unique.
Next, remove last year’s fruiting canes with all of the unchosen canes attached.
Cut the length of the new fruiting cane. Typically, this is 8 to 10 buds in length. In a perfect world, each bud will have one shoot with two clusters.
Carefully massage the chosen cane (you’ll hear a little crackle), wrap once around the fruiting wire (bottom wire), and tie down the end.
Move on to the next vine!
Bilateral Spur Pruning
Look at the prior year’s shoot growth and choose the best oriented canes with the ideal wood diameter (a little bigger than a #2 pencil) and the healthiest looking buds on each spur.
The first bud on each cane is called the basal bud and it has the least amount of fruit. Count 2 clear buds (can fit your pruning shears underneath) above this and cut the cane. Ideally, the remaining clear buds are pointing upright and not crowding each other.
Repeat with every spur on the vine, then move on to the next vine!
From the Vineyard
We've been busy since harvest!
At the end of 2015 harvest, we removed an old Sauvignon Blanc block from our Rutherford Estate (the photo below is from the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc harvest).
The first step in removing a vineyard is to pull out the posts (we donated ours to ranchers affected by the fire in Lake County to make necessary repairs from fire damage), remove the drip irrigation, any overhead sprinklers and the catch wires (we rolled these up by hand and recycled them).
And then it’s time for the big, bad bulldozers!
Following the vineyard rows, this bulldozer, fitted with a vine pulling tooth, digs 36" underground to remove as many of the roots as possible, while pushing the vines to the left making a neat and tidy pile. After each pass with the bulldozer, our crew then also takes a pass through the block to pick up any roots the bulldozer missed by hand.
Next is the bulldozer with the brush rake. The teeth at the bottom of the rake reach 4-6” under the soil to tease the remaining roots to the top, while pushing the pile of vines out of the block.
Now it’s time for the amendment cocktail! Ours is made of gypsum, limestone and compost (all organic). The amendments are evenly incorporated into the soil with a tractor (shh, don't tell him he's not a bulldozer).
In the next step, we get back to old-school farming and bring out the slip plow. This behemoth is 5’ tall and 12’ long and is attached to the back of a bulldozer. This technology was used back in the 1950’s and is making a comeback. The slip plow rolls the soil by digging 5' under ground, bringing it to the top.
Up next is the 18’ disc. The discs reach 12” into the soil, mixing the new top layer to prepare for new vines.
Finally, the box scraper (a glorified rake) takes a couple passes through the block to level the ground.
After all this hard work, the soil is now 18” higher! Or, as our Agricultural Operations Manager puts it, “We’re breathing the love back into the land.”