Photo Essay: The Long, Cold Winter

March 27, 2014 § Leave a comment

March 27th, 2014

On the bright side: we've had some brilliant sunrises this winter!

On the bright side: despite all the snow and cold, we’ve had some brilliant sunrises this winter!


Late March 2014 finds us with spots of snow still on the ground, freezing temperatures, and lots of work ahead of us.  It has been a nearly unprecedentedly cold and snowy winter in much of the East Coast, certainly in Virginia, and absolutely here at Sunset Hills.  In fact, the weather has been such a prominent topic of conversation for the past two months that I’m hesitant to bring it up at all.  Instead we’ll take a stroll around the production end of Sunset Hills to see what we’ve been up to.

The 2013 Rose of Cabernet Franc magnum.  We love a good wax dip.

The 2013 Rose of Cabernet Franc magnum. We love a good wax dip.

Nearly all our 2013 whites have been bottled this winter.  Thus far we’ve bottled the 2013 Sunset White, 2013 Chardonnay, 2013 Rose, 2013 Rose of Cabernet Franc, 2013 Viognier, and 2013 Reserve Chardonnay.  Due to low yields in our estate fruit, we will be skipping the vintage with Petit Manseng – a bummer for sure, but on the bright side we were able to do some wonderful blending with Petit Manseng in our Chardonnay and Viognier.  The 2013 whites are quite nice – fleshier and riper than in 2012 – and we’re excited to see them appear on our tasting lineup and in the Club shipments.  Bottling season will continue through June this year, as we still have our beefier 2012 reds to barrel, as well as some of the earlier 2013s.  All told we will be bottling more wine in 2014 than ever before, and we’re quite fortunate to have some very exciting releases around the corner.


Double Magnums!?

Double Magnums!?

We were excited and honored to have our 2010 Mosaic included in the Virginia Governor’s Cup Case for a second year in a row.  This is quite an honor, as the competition itself is quite stringent, and the fellow wines and wineries included in the Case are truly wonderful expressions of Virginia wine.  We are further excited to be putting the finishing touches on our 2012 Mosaic, and moving it into bottle in May, although at this time we aren’t planning on releasing it until next winter.

You're telling me the winemaker actually prunes?

You’re telling me the winemaker actually prunes?

And, of course, winter is for pruning.  While we were hoping to have completed the installation of our new vineyard, Sherman Ridge Vineyard, the weather has not yet permitted.  So, instead, the crew has been busy pruning through these freezing days.  With 60 acres to prune, this task essentially spreads out over the entire winter.  The picture above is the Cabernet Sauvignon in our Estate Vineyard #2.  He should probably be wearing gloves.

A Tasting of “Nate’s Picks” for April/May 2014 – Something Old and Something New

March 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

March 17th, 2014

Below are descriptions of the wines we will be offering as “Nate’s Picks” for the April/May Estate Club Shipments.  Enjoy!

Sunset Hills Vineyard 2013 Chardonnay – Unreleased until now, I’m very excited to be getting our 2013 Chardonnay (as well as all of our 2013 whites) into everyone’s hands.  Made in a similar style to our “stainless” Chardonnays of past vintages, the 2013 Chardonnay benefited from the very cool and long ripening season at Shenandoah Springs Vineyard.  Much more dense in the mid-palate, with riper aromatics of peach and pear and white flower, and a nice crisp refreshing acidity, this is more in line with the Chardonnays we were seeing from the 2009 vintage.  Very expressive and vibrant.  While the wine is very fresh and young now, we expect this to age from now until 2016.  Also: ask about the screwcaps!

Sunset Hills Vineyard 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon – Some of you may have had this wine at private tastings or Estate Club events over the past year, but we’ve finally decided to let it go and release it to the Universe.  Wonderfully aromatic, with great cigarbox and molasses and baking spice on the nose; super-smooth (my word) on the mid-palate, with flavors of tobacco, dried fruit, vanilla, and coffee.  We were fortunate to be given a vintage in which we could make a Cabernet Sauvignon in the more “international” style (very ripe, very smooth, very expressive), while still retaining that great acidity and bright fruit of our Estate Vineyard #2, and we consider this to be a once-in-five-years Cab Sauv.  This Estate Club shipment will sell us out, sadly.

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