Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Years from Keswick Vineyards!

Since New Years Eve is a night full of champagne, I just wanted to take the time to wish everyone a happy New Years Eve! I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday with their families and friends. I was lucky enough to get out of the snow and go visit San Diego for the holidays and it was amazing! This was the first time visiting home since I moved out to Virginia six short months ago. So to my family and friends, it was great seeing you! Just wanted to send a quick reminder letting everyone know that we will be closed on January 1st for New Years. We will be back open on the 2nd for business. Feel free to bring in canned goods if you plan on coming since we have not turned our box into the Charlottesville Emergency Food Bank for an extra 5% off any purchases!

Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Just wanted to make sure everyone survived the snow this weekend! It was my first real snow according to Kris... since it actually stuck to the ground this time! We were closed for the weekend since the roads hadn't even been plowed for a few days and once that was clear we had to clear our own driveway. We realized it was a bad idea to drive out to Keswick Vineyards when we saw one of the plow trucks was off into the ditch.... We officially opened back up Tuesday and I am here in the tasting room as we speak (or as I type!). So come on in if you need some last minute holiday gifts or need wine for Christmas! Just to make everyone aware, we will be closed on Christmas Day, but will reopen on Saturday.

In other news, the Viognier is almost sold out. This is personally my favorite white wine we have on the tasting menu right now, so I will be very sad to see it go. This is also the wine that took best in show at the Virginia Town Point Competition. We were quite honored to receive that recognition, so I'm going to have to save a bottle to put on our trophy shelf! 

Looking out the tasting room window out to the front of the property.

The lake is officially frozen over... poor tree...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bottling Complete!

So for the past two days we have been bottling! When we bottle we hire out a truck to come to the vineyard to help us out. This time we bottled the Les Vents de Anges Viognier, the Verdejo, the Rose, the Royal and the Consensus. On Thursday we started with the Verdejo and then moved onto the LVD. We finished up the night with the Royal, which turned out to be quite a pain. Since we use the small belissima bottles, they kept tipping over and I believe we had about 3 casualties. On Friday we did the Rose and the Consensus. So let me take you down the assembly line:

First the empty bottles are put onto the conveyor belt.

Then the bottles are flipped over and cleaned out with a citric solution.

After that they flip back over and are filled to the brim with wonderful Keswick wines.

Then the cork is inserted into the bottle. Then the foil, or capsule, is put onto the bottle. Lucky for us, this machine decided to break on Friday so we had to hand capsule all of the bottles. Once the capsules are on they go through a spinner. The capsules are loose over the neck of the bottles and the spinner magically tightens them.

Last but certainly not least, the labels are put onto the bottles. Then you've got a bottle of wine! The whole process goes rather quickly (if we don't run into any bumps) and at maximum capacity we can pump out 48 bottles a minute!We did a good job and got all of the wine bottled. But it started snowing on Friday night and we had to leave before we added labels to the Heritage. I'm bummed about this because I cannot wait to have the Heritage in the tasting room!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

One day till Bottling!

It has been really cold this week and I was surprised to drive into work and see that our lake had partially froze over! Now don't get your ice skates ready, it is just a small layer of ice, but it was exciting to me!

That poor tree has been water logged (and now ice logged) for the past week. I hope it makes it through the winter!

As I said in the previous post we are getting close to bottling (tomorrow is the big day)... so the boys have been busy prepping all of the wines. I mentioned the filtering of the wine, but I did not mention the blending of one particular wine. After each wine aged separately in oak barrels the Consensus is being blended together to the parameters that our wine club members picked! The wine is in stainless steel right now, sitting patiently for bottling.We also had to test the wine for alcohol level and sulfur levels. This insures that the wine is at the correct stage for bottling. Another factor to consider for bottling, which I would have never thought of is keeping the wines and the empty bottles at generally the same temperature. It is important that the bottles are just as cold as the wine going into them or else the bottles will condensate. Now although that doesn't sound like a big deal, it is! Because if there is condensation the labels will slide right off the bottles!

Bottling is actually done in the back of a large semi truck with all of the mechanisms to fill, label, cork and add the foil to the bottles. I am really interested in how this will work and I'll give you and update (and pictures) tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bottle Overload

So we are preparing for bottling and we got out shipment of bottles. Little did I know it would be such an overwhelming amount of bottles!

That stack of bottles goes about 5 deep and 3 wide! We received four different types of bottles the 65, 10, 13, and 22. Since those numbers mean nothing to me, lets delve a little deeper....

The 65's (far left) are used for our standard red wine bottle and the 2008 Consensus will be bottled in it. They are Bordeaux bottles. 

The 10's (2nd in line) are our standard white wine bottles, called Burgundy bottles. We will be bottling both the Les Vents de Anges Viognier and the Verdejo in them. Both the Burgundy and the Bordeaux bottles are dark green (technically called antique green and dead leaf green). The reasoning behind this is the darker the bottle the less sunlight can come in contact with the wine, which means less oxidation.

The 22's (3rd) are smaller dessert wine bottles, which we will be using for the Royal (the late harvest Norton). The bottle holds half the volume of the other bottles and is called a Belissima bottle. These bottles are taller then the previous two!

Last but not least is a bottle I am unfamiliar with, the 13 (far right). The 13's will be used to bottle our Rose. This is called a Hock bottle. The bottle virtually does not have a punt, while all the other bottles we are using do! A punt is the little indent on the bottom of a bottle. This bottle does not have a punt because wines that tend to be bottled in them do not have sediment.

Overall, we received 20,580 bottles in our shipment!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Filtering the Viognier

So after cold stabilizing for a few weeks the wine is ready to be filtered. I talked about cold stabilizing for a brief moment a few posts back but to refresh your memory we turned the temperature of the tank way down to make sure that the proteins could be taken out of the wine.  Stephen came with 2 different glasses of wine into the tasting room, one pre-filter and one post-filter. Can you believe those are the same wine? After tasting them both the filtered wine is much more focused but the flavor profile is very similar.

So I went out to the barrel room to see how this was done and basically a large hose is connected to the stainless steel tank (we were filtering the Les Vents de Anges Viognier) and the hose pushes wine through the machine in the picture below. This machine sends the wine through a series of filters and it comes out the other hose back into a neighboring tank. We monitored the pressure during the process to make sure that there was not any back up. Sometimes if there is a lot of yeast or sediment, wine will be forced through the filter and not processes as finely.

After we filtered the whole thing we were left with the lees, yeast, and bentonite in the bottom of the tank we started from. The yellow color is the yeast and the gray color is the bentonite. Stephen encouraged me to taste what was left over in the tank and it was a really interesting flavor. It looked like it was going to be very granular but it was very smooth and creamy, which attributes to the creaminess of some Chardonnay. But it was also rather tart! Quite the experience, I wished I could scoop it up and let everyone in the tasting room try it!

Monday, December 7, 2009

...And the Results Are

So our Wine Makers Dinner went off without a hitch! It was fantastic fun and great food. Thanks to Harvest Moon for the great food and thanks to all of the people who attended. I was lucky enough to get a plate made for me at the end of the night and the cracked pepper encrusted filet was incredible. Needless to say, I was in heaven.

As for the Consensus Blending Party both of the days were fun. We had a full house in the back of the barrel room and the blending started at 10:00am! The grapes that were allowed in the blend were Chambourcin, Petite Verdot, and 3 different lots of Cabernet Sauvignon. The different lots are based on where the vines are situated on the property. Lot 1 is in the front of the tasting room planted in clay. Lot 2 and 3 are planted in the back of the property on shale but lot 3 is on top of a hill. Shale is always great for growing because it is self-draining which will not over saturate the grapes while they are growing.

The winning blend turned out to be 12% Petite Verdot, 28% Chambourcin, 55% Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 1 and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 3. Its average score was 16.5 out of 20. So congratulations to the winning team, Gavin Meek, Jen Cottler, Paul and Kathy Clements, and Barbara and Debra Harris! Now they have bragging rights for the rest of the year!

Our second place team (and the winners of the Sunday blending event) were Kelsea Bordoe, Scott Fry, Kristin and Chris Friedline. They created another amazing blend of 2% Petite Verdot, 2% Chambourcin, 59% Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 1, and 37% Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 2. It turned out to be a much different blend then the one that won the overall, but it only lost by 1.3 points on average!

Weather-wise: It SNOWED on Saturday! This was my first snow, which was exciting, but I was nervous about driving in the snow. Fortunately it did not stick around Keswick and by the time I made it into Charlottesville the roads had been plowed. So I dodged that bullet. After all of that snow, I was expecting crummy weather on Sunday but it is nice and sunny, but very chilly!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Event Preparations

We are getting prepared for quite a few things this week: the Wine Makers Dinner and the Consensus Blending Event! So it has been quite busy around here!

Stephen had to rearrange all of the barrels in the barrel room in order to make way for the tables for both the Wine Makers Dinner and the Consensus Blending Party so our barrel room looks completely different! I am very excited for the dinner because Stephen is going to be releasing the reserve wines to be paired with the menu. We even got an oven and stove top delivered to the vineyard today! I was a little confused when I walked  outside and nearly bumped into it.

In regards to the Consensus Blending Event we are prepping for that and I am excited about the wines we are blending with. Apparently it is 3 different lots of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot, and Chambourcin. Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Verdot are two of my favorite grapes so I am excited to see which blend wins!

Oh and one more note of interest... Our lake flooded again, this time worst then the last! It was a chilly rainy day yesterday, but today is beautiful! And according to the local weather it is supposed to snow on Saturday... Being from San Diego I still cannot fathom waking up in the morning to snow!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Holiday Food Drive

I am very excited about a new program we are just getting started and it is our Holiday Food Drive! Throughout the month of December (up until Christmas Eve) we will be accepting canned and non-perishable food items to benefit the Emergency Food Bank of Charlottesville. We will have a basket, by our cute little Christmas tree where customers can drop of goods for the Emergency Food Bank. The best part about it is that any donating food will receive an extra 5% off their purchase in the tasting room!

The Emergency Food Bank is an organization that has been active since 1973 and they have about 100 volunteers, all unpaid, that work together to provide food for families in need in the Charlottesville area. Obviously we are excited to work with them and with all of your help I'm sure this will be successful!

Here is a list of items in high demand:

Canned tuna or chicken
Peanut butter
Canned vegetables *
Soup (dry or canned)
Canned beans
Canned fruit
Macaroni and cheese