Harvest came and went, fast and furious! Although crush is one of my favorite times of the year, it is always a great feeling to receive the last bunch of grapes through the door!
The Columbia Valley showed again its ability to craft world-class wines. 2014 was the warmest vintage on record with a lot of heat from bud break in April to bloom in June to veraison in early August (picture above) and into harvest, which blessed us with one of the most outstanding Indian summers I've experienced.
In a nutshell...
Wines created from warmer vintages like 2013 and 2014 need special attention in the vineyard. For instance, we optimize growth of the outside foliage to create a sprawling canopy in order to avoid a direct hit of the sun onto the clusters. The dimpled light coming into the uniform, uncongested fruit zone below will minimize sunburn and retain more of the acidity, brightness and color pigmentation.
The wines this year are already showing an unreal depth in color and many layers of complexity led by a huge mouthfeel of velvety tannins; big bold exuberant wines loaded with ripe flavors like black cherries and juicy plums.
Growing seasons are distinctive each year to the next. The wines made "in the vineyard" will showcase each season's uniqueness.
Wines are made in the vineyard...
Winemaking is tightly dependent on wine grape growing; hence the importance of a good understanding between the grower and the winemaker on which style of wine will be crafted. I do not necessarily like the term "wines are made in the vineyard" because a winemaker will bring his own touch using different yeast, barrels and other winemaking techniques which might shadow some of the terroir but the wine ultimately reflects the climate and viticulture practices.
What else to say - the Columbia Valley ROCKS!
This year at Long Shadows, we had our harvest celebration with special guests Randy Dunn (Feather) and John Duval (Sequel). It took place the day we kicked off our
12th season under a beautiful sky with our Key Club Members. Starting with a formal winemaker dinner on Friday night, our celebration was followed by a day full of fun including various games and tastings. A paella was made by Chef Chris Ainsworth of Saffron while Sarah Roy of Sipid Bites dazzled us with some incredible hors d'oeuvres. We also had live music by Danelle Hayes of American Idol.
All in all, quite a beginning to start the crush! The 2015 celebration will be held on September 11th and 12th.
Various Winemaking Techniques
One of the questions that is often asked is how do we consistently craft high-end yet distinctive wines. One of the main factors is Allen's vision and partnerships with our celebrated vintners who each bring a different style of winemaking. For example, Michel Rolland ferments his Merlot in 1500 gallon wood upright fermenters. We designed a submerged cap device for John Duval to keep the berries immersed in the juice. Randy Dunn likes to add stems back during fermentation for Feather, and we ferment Philippe Melka's Cabernet Sauvignon in oversize French Oak barrels to create a structured wine; the backbone of Pirouette.
Whether you have a question, are planning a trip to Walla Walla or just want to say "Hi!", I would love to hear from you. I hope to see you all in the near future, a glass of wine in hand.
Santé! Gilles Nicault