Sunday, January 31, 2010

We're OPEN!

After a brief hiatus yesterday due to the snow, we are officially open again! I got into the vineyard about an hour later since I wanted to wait for any potential ice to melt off the roads, but Charlottesville seemed to do a much better job this time around plowing and salting the roads. We must have gotten about then a foot of snow yesterday but the roads seemed 100% better then the last big snow in December!
The parking lot is getting plowed as I type! So it should be nice and clean by the time people start arriving.  Another thing to mention is that the Touriga is almost sold out, as of this morning we have 14 bottles left. I am going to be really sad to see it go. It is one of my personal favorites!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Be Mine with Wine

This morning Stephen and I had a meeting with Jason, the executive chef at Glenmore Country Club. We were meeting to discuss our "be mine with wine" event. Last year we planned an event with chocolate covered strawberries paired with our wines. This year we might get a little more creative and make a few other things as well! I am really excited about the whole event and I think it will be great fun!

To get you up to speed, this event will be during the day on Valentines Day (Sunday Feb 14th) and we are going to offer a special tasting that day, as well as our regular tasting. If you chose to do the special tasting we will be pairing each wine with a chocolate covered strawberry.... Think rich dark chocolate paired with the 2008 Cabernet Franc, or white chocolate and lemon zest for the 2008 Chardonnay. The tastings will be $12 and it will include the wines, strawberries, and the glass.

Here is a link for the facebook event page: Be Mine with Wine
Mark your calendars to come down to Keswick on Valentines Day!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Rack and Return

There has been a good bit of wine maintenance throughout this week. Stephen has been busy racking off the Touriga and the Petit Verdot. A wine is racked off once the wine gets "stinky". When wine sits in the barrel on the gross lees it can start to make the wine smell a bit like eggs, this is due to the presence of sulfur. Lucky for us, there is an easy and common fix to get rid of the sulfur. When a wine is racked off it is pumped from the barrels into a stainless steel tank. Then the barrels are cleaned with a pressure washer to get rid of all of the gross lees. Gross lees are a combination of inactive yeast and any small particles of grape pulp or skin that were small enough to get through the press. These particles settle out of the wine over time and collect on the bottom of a barrel. When you rack the wine out of the barrel, it is important to leave the lees on the bottom in order to get rid of them.

By moving the wine from barrel to tank and back, the wine is oxygenated. Here's the quick fix: the new oxygen (O2) in the wine actually binds with the sulfur (S) to create sulfur dioxide (SO2). This gas comes out of the wine and like magic, the wine is wonderful again! Cheers to the joys of chemistry...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Spring Fling Passports

Today I was able to take a jaunt out of the tasting room and go meet up with some individuals from our neighboring wineries. We drove down to the Kluge Farm Shop to have a meeting to discuss the success of our holiday passport program that we ran throughout November and December. For those of you who did not know about it, we had a passport program where customers could purchase a passport and receive free tastings at Keswick Vineyards, Jefferson Vineyards, and Kluge. It was great to pair up with wonderful wineries and offer such a great deal to the tasters! We were so excited about it we are planning on doing it again! We are going to do the passport for the months of February and March.

Just trying to give everyone the heads up in case visiting vineyards is in the near future!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"Eiswein" Einstein

Yesterday began with a large truck bringing us our frozen Viognier from this years harvest. According to the driver it was kept in a freezer unit that never got above negative 30 degrees! Needless to say the grapes were solid when we received them. If you have never frozen grapes before you eat them you should really try it... They become so sweet! So the boys started unloading frozen bins of grapes into the press, and I even got my hands dirty, which ended fairly quickly when I realized everyone else was wearing gloves and my hands were numb... This Viognier is going to be our Eiswein also known as our Nektar. Eiswein is the German pronunciation of ice wine which most people are more familiar with. Ours is technically a mock ice wine because to be considered a true ice wine the grapes must freeze on the vine. Making a desert wine is a rather labor intensive process so this wine most likely will not be ready for a long time. We aged our last Nektar for two years in barrel!

Since the grapes are frozen solid it is important to press them off very slowly. If it is done too quickly the bladder, or bag inside the press could tear, which is an expensive fix. This press is so slow that not much was even accomplished yesterday. Stephen was at the vineyard rather late last night and came back in early this morning to continue the pressing. According to Stephen they will probably be doing the same thing this time tomorrow! Since the grapes are frozen we extract a lot less juice from them. Typically with a ton of grapes we can squeeze out roughly 165 gallons of juice. With frozen grapes, we will receive just 45-55 gallons per ton!

Stephen brought me a little sample of the wine and let me tell you it is sweet! Current readings are at 45 brix.... and to give you some sort of comparison all of the other Viognier we brought in this year was around 24 or 25 brix. Brix is a measurement of the level of sugar in a wine or the grapes themselves. Stephen told me his goal is to make this about 10% residual sugar. I guess we will have to wait and see how things shape up!

 Can you believe that becomes this?