2012 Harvest In Retrospect

November 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing Sun.” – John Keats

The Harvest Itself

We couldn’t be happier.  Virginia was dealing with a lot of curveballs in 2012 – radically early budbreak, major frost concerns, a pattern of hot, wet, cold, hot, wet, cold (which kept us on our toes for the entiretly of the growing season), an extended vegetative growth period, uneven ripening, the usual storm concerns in late summer / early fall.  The dice all landed our way, though, and we were able to see nearly all our blocks through to full ripeness, making picking decisions based entirely on winemaking, never picking simply because we had to.

The wines seem to have potential for a refined, focused quality, with some varietals being bigger and more full-fleshed.  Alcohols will be in the mid-range – 13% for Chardonnays, 13.5% for Viogniers, maybe a tad higher for some of the reds.  Extraction is good, as fruit quality was high and fermentations were quite clean.  As we stand, everything is in barrel or tank, and the reds are undergoing malolactic fermentation.  We’re performing battonage on whites and reds this year, aiming for the depth and sappy quality of our 2009 reds.

Our New Vineyards

This harvest was the first harvest for us from both the Catesby Springs vineyard and the Shenandoah Springs vineyard, both of which Sunset Hills purchased in the 2011 / 2012 winter.  From these vineyards we made an array of wines – Chardonnay, Viognier, Traminette, Vidal Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Tannat, Petit Verdot, and both a Chambourcin port, and a rosé of Chambourcin.

Shenandoah Springs proved to be a powerhouse this year, allowing ample hangtime for healthy, slow-ripening fruit.  The Chardonnays made from this vineyard are exemplary for us.  We have two blocks of Cabernet Franc, as well as one of Petit Verdot and Tannat.  It’s a little early to say anything definitive about these reds, but based on fruit quality the Tannat looks like an Estate Club bottling, and the Cabernet Francs should be strong.  As a whole the vineyard perfomed excellently.

Catesby Vineyard proved more difficult for us, but ultimately very rewarding.  Vegetative growth here continued for weeks after veraison, due to July and August jumps between hot and cold, as well as rainfall in late summer.  Fruit ripening was delayed.  We held off on picking with some varietals till the very end – just a week or so before the heavy fall storms in late October.  We have a perfumed, expressive Traminette, a delicate Viognier, a hearty Petit Verdot, and a lush, open, ripe Vidal Blanc from this vineyard.

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