Saturday, November 27, 2010

Telling....

So, I guess it's telling that my last post was about harvest widows and about how our spouses are sometimes left stranded during this time of year.  Turns out it's not just spouses, but just about anything in our lives.  Including blogs.

This past harvest was a wicked one in terms of the amount of work required and accomplished.  I haven't had this tough a harvest since 2005.  It started early--almost as early as 2002--and finished late.  Not quite as late as last year, but since we made so much wine this year it seemed to drag on and on.

Am I complaining?  For once, no.  It's hard to complain when the vintage turned out so nicely.  Now, I can say this because I just had my second day away from Allegro since August 10th.  The first was Thanksgiving.  That's a hell of a long haul to do anything, even if it's something you love. 

I'm especially non-complainative due to the fact that the grapes were awesome.  Most years I am nose-to-the-barrel thinking about what they'll turn into.  This year, I think I'm a little intimidated by the prospect of making such incredible wine that I don't want to know how much pressure I might put myself under.  When the grapes are good, the wine should be good.  When the grapes are phenomenal, the wines should blow your mind.  If you didn't make really good wine this year, you should pack up and go home.  This should be one for the ages.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Harvest Widows

It's now mid-October, 2010.  The first juice we received for this vintage was in early August.  (It was peach juice from our friends at Maple Lawn Farms for the wine we call Celeste......)  It's now over two months later.  Ray has had a few weekends off in the meantime.  I've had fewer.  We're tired.  We're sore.  We're a bit numb.

We're staring down the last week of harvest.  By this time next week, all of our fruit should be in the winery...barring any hurricanes, typhoons, or other acts of God.  The light at the end of the tunnel is finally visible, but it's a heck of a ways off. 

I read an article today in a newspaper from the Napa, Ca, area.  It was about the families of winemakers and what happens during harvest time.  One spouse out there coined a phrase--and started a support-group--for what she called "harvest widows."  These are the people who have chosen to spend their lives with us nutcases.  We know who we are.  The ones that think nothing of spending a Friday night unloading tons of Merlot, or a Sunday morning meditating on the pumpovers and punchdowns of red fermentations.  But it's a lonelier time for those whom we chose to spend our lives with. 

The article described us basically as human zombies with stomachs that need to be fed.  It's not far off the mark.  Some days are better than others, that's for sure.  But for the most part, we're tired.

And, yet, we come back every year for more.  I remember when Ray first started here.  He kept going to job interviews and posting his resume on Monster, etc.  But after that first harvest, the first crush of 2006, I could tell he was pretty hooked.  There's something about making wine, and working hard to make better wine, that gets into your blood.  Into who you are.  It becomes us.  It's what we do.

So, here's to all the harvest widows out there.  Especially, Kris, Cathy, and Marianne.  We'll be back soon.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Doing

These past few weeks have been full of the crush.  Long days and long nights.

At one point last week, before the end of the night and after a couple days of it, we were feeling pretty beat.  We still had a few more tons to process, and the combination of fatigue, cold, beer, and darkness led to strange giddiness.

I asked my good friend Nelson--of Karamoor fame, who had just brought some Merlot--why we do this.  Why do we out ourselves through this small bit of insanity?

"Because it's what we do," he said.  And he's right. 

Some may go on, waxing poetic about how the wine drives them to make it.  Some may just be going through the paces of employment.  But for some of us, it's just what we do.  What we have to do.  Because it's who we are. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

October Tough-ness

So, we live here on the right side of this country, and we grow grapes here.  We've been doing it unsuccessfully for a few centuries, but recently we've started to get it right.  One of our chief concerns has always been the onslaught of hurricanes and tropical storms near harvest time.  And this year is no different.

The timing of these past few systems (Nicole, etc.) has been pretty good.  We have most of our early and mid-season varieties in, and the late season varieties are still hanging tough out there.  Our beautiful season is still in the works, and it's still looking good.  It's this toughness that make it all work for us.

Our late varieties--primarily Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc--originate from a maritime climate (Bordeaux).  They are red varieties that have fairly tough skins, leading to the higher proportion of tannins in the resulting wine.  This toughness leads to a very good resistance to a lot of the rots that plagued East coast grapegrowers for years.  It also comes into play with end-of-season rains.

There's a harvest theory that you should wait at least three days after each rain to let the water move out of the vines.  There are competing theories as to whether the rain water moves into the berries through the roots or through the skins of the grapes.  Some recent research at, I believe, Washington State shows that even if you pressurized grapevine roots with water and he water dripped out of the leaves but didn't enter the grapes themselves.

So, if you follow that line of thinking and think about our tough varieties, you'll realize how we don't worry as much as we used to about rain at harvest.  Sure, it messes things up a bit.  But for the tough-stuff we like to grow, we can laugh it off.  All the way to the cellar.

Friday, August 27, 2010

More Thoughts on Wine Competitions

The folks at the New York Cork Report had a recent posting about their position on wine competitions the other day.  It's been a long time since I've read something from someone in our industry that has fired me up so much in a good way.  Here's the link to the article.  Please read it now before going on.....

http://www.lenndevours.com/2010/08/we-wont-participate-as-judges-in-wine-competitions-heres-why.html

My takeaway from this is that they have opened their eyes and had the guts to put out publicly what most of us--meaning me and maybe a couple others--have been thinking and saying for years! 

Full disclosure: Allegro does not enter medal competitions.  We do enter the local Pennsylvania Wine Society Tasting since a lot of the members are our customers.  Other than that, no other competitions. 

Before me, John and Tim Crouch (founders of Allegro) did enter competitions for a while, but even they soured on them, recognizing them for being thinly-veiled games of chance.

The main point of the article that got me was when they pointed out the Emperor's new clothes: that there should be transparency and clarity in the wine business.  And, it seems, hardly anyone knows what medals are worth.  Or do they?  I know who knows.....the wine competitions.  They are worth entry fees to keep the competitions in business.  But for the consumer or the media there is no transparency nor clarity on what these competitions actually accomplish.

As someone who has judged thousands of wine, I can't begin to tell you how subjective a process it it.  Do I even like the wine?  Is it flawed?  Is it winemaking or grape-growing that made it this way?  It is my style?  Did I just have chocolate for dessert?  Did I brush my teeth?  Are my allergies bothering me?  Did I drink too much last night?  Do I need to impress the judge across from me?  Is he a pompous ass?  Am I a pompous ass for thinking this?  All these questions play into it.

(As an aside, I think wine critics are of a different ilk, but that's for a different post.)

Bottom-line, wineries like competitions because it's easy to get medals and medals sell wine because no one truly knows what a medal is worth.  It's a fake outside endorsement.  Thanks, New York Cork Report, for calling it like it is.

Lastly, for those of you who don't get it, I'll be starting my own wine competition soon.  Feel free to send me 3 bottles of your wine along with a $50 entry fee.  Tell me the price of your commercially-available wine, and I will send you correspondingly-colored medals.  $0 to $10 gets no medal, $11 to $15 gets bronze, $16 to $20 gets silver, and $21 and up gets gold. 

In other words let the market determine the quality.  It's the core value that our country was founded on.

Thoughts on a Rename

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while will notice two things (at least.)  One is that I haven't been very good at updating it in the past couple months.  No really good reason for that.  Just that the vineyard has been almost two weeks ahead of normal.  And I tried to take the first real family vacation with Kris and the boys.  So, basically I've just been goofing off.....

The other thing is I changed the title.  "Life at Allegro" is a boring name, so I changed it.  The new name is more boring but just a slight bit cleverer.  For those of you who need a refresher course on your Greek, Latin, and German:

vitis - the scientific genus classification of grapes
sophia - love
philo - wisdom
enology - winemaking

And it's all German due to their tendencies to smash words together to make new ones.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Vineyard Report--Early July '10

Thought I'd post a quick video I made out in the vineyard to describe what the year is looking like so far.  Not sure how much I like the video format, but it may mean I can keep up with things better.  Let me know what you think, if you'd like.  Negative votes may not apply....

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Back again....and there.

I knew it. I knew it. I knew it.

There was always going to be a time when I stumbled on the blog, when I spent more time doing what I love rather than reflecting on it. So, maybe it's obvious--based on the summer we're having--but we're sitting on one of the most unique, remarkable, quintessentially different vintage that I can remember. The one that comes closest to this would be 2002.

2002 also had a warm spell in January, had a warm time in April that caused an early budbreak, and was borderline drought conditions with heat waves and cool waves. OK, so it has lots in common with 2002, just more so. It's all been amplified. Where 2002 was hot, this is hotter. Where 2002 was dry, this is drier. This is the "-er" year if there ever was one.

Now, I hate to actually put this in writing--for fear that my boys may someday read this and think that I was going nuts at an early age or perhaps taking in too much of the vinous vintage--but I actually think we maybe could use a little of the wet stuff. Now they say, be careful what you wish for. And I'm sure in this climate of overdoneness that if I asked for a shower I'd meet a deluge. But the leaves are starting to curl, they're starting to lose their gloss, and the grass crunches beneath my feet. It's hot and dry. If it wasn't so damn humid I'd think I was back in Kansas. (Not a bad thing, but you're not me.)

This phenomenal year had had me back on my heels since day one (April 7), reeling to keep up with its twists and turns. Now, after fruit set, I wonder if the vines will make it. Will we somehow be able to pull off the vintage of the century with adequate rainfall and protection from hurricanes? Or will we finally succumb to the power that was 2009 and sink into the depths of a debilitatingly tough and rough vintage due to the carnage of drought-like conditions and lose half of our venerable vines in our vineyard to the stresses of extreme climate change?

Again, for all of you who don't know me, you can now see why I don't play the lottery. This is a poker of the soul. Can we or can we not stare down the deck for an inside straight, run the table on the vines? Or will we pull up short, fold, throw in the junk and give up?

It's too soon to tell. Here we are in July. We still need to get through veraison, get nets on, build sugars, soften skins, ripen tannins. I'll see you in October, or maybe in September. I'll be the one with the grape goo on my hands.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Too Busy

Man, has it been busy.  I always knew there would come a time when I didn't have time to post blogs.  For a long time.  Sorry.  At least it's better than the alternative. 

Here's to a great vintage.  Cheers!


--Carl

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Moving On

Dealing with our early budbreak put us a ways behind.  Not that that's anything other than normal at a vineyard--or any other part of my life for that matter--but we were just ahead in being behind, if that makes any sense. We've finally found our groove and are starting to feel under control in the vineyard.

A couple weeks ago we finished a bit more planting.  We have some spots in our Merlot that never took well with our first planting back in 2005.  I never did figure out what caused it, but I have a feeling it was a combination of a bunch of things.  First and foremost being that the nursery I bought the grafted vines from undoubtedly sent me a mixed bag of vines.  The weak ones have died out, but the rest are doing fine.

Don't ever get me started on grapevine nurseries--or printing companies....If I ever did my life over again, I'd head to one of those fields where there's a lot more tolerance for....well, a whole lot more tolerance for everything.

The grapes are looking well so far.  This cooler weather we've had has kept the vines in check for the most part.  We're still ahead of most years' timetable, but not as far as we could have been if we'd had anything close to normal weather since that heat spell in early April.  I've been watching the pattern of temperatures for the last month or so, and we seem to be starting out a lot like 2002 did (my first year here at Allegro.)  And if 2010 is anything like 2002, I'll be happy.

Monday, May 10, 2010

It was cold....

OK, so I've been growing grapes for over ten years now, and this morning I had an experience unlike any I have ever had in a vineyard.....and can you keep your mind out of the gutter?

At 6:00 AM I was out in the early daylight looking at a thermometer. It started around 31F, and eventually bottomed out at 28.8F. I wasn't sure what to think. Allegro has never been totally nuked before.

This year started out so early, with temperatures in the high 80s in early April. We broke buds on our Chardonnay on April 7th, with the Cab following a few days later. Totally crazy, totally messed up. Don't tell me that climate change isn't real, because I'm living it in 2010.

I tried to explain to my boys what the early budbreak was all about. I compared it to being in a race and trying to jump the gun. If you get caught, you're disqualified and and out of the race. But, if you time it perfectly, you have a jump on the rest of the field. And that's the way I felt up until this morning.

Standing out in the lowest couple of rows of the Cab, I felt DQ'ed. Just waiting for the starter's gun to go off for a second time. Waiting for the other shoe to drop.

A few hours later I went back out and started finding leaves that were crumpled up and blackened. But after lunch he damage hadn't spread much further. Our lower rows had intermittent injuries, but for the most part I think we're ok.

Of course, tonight could be a repeat of the same. Only difference is that I plan to put a fungicide spray on the vineyard, for two reasons: a) it's going to rain soon, and b) the air is supposed to be still, and having my sprayer blowing things around out there has to help a little. And every little bit counts.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New Sweet Stuff

It's taken me a while to realize this, but things that are new--and maybe different--are good. Not always, but at least most times when it comes to wine. (OK, I've had "new" bottles of wine that turned out to be crap, but you get what I mean.....)

For years, I've always challenged winemaking self to do new wines. Try something a little different. Change things up in order to make them better. Of course, Mother Nature does that for us automatically every year, but I like to change the things I control as well. Nothing like throwing the whole deck up in the air and seeing where the cards land. And now, after doing this for a lot of years, I have a pretty good sense of where they fall. Or, or at least, I know where to find them all after they hit the ground and put them in a semblance of order.

I woke up one day to the idea that I hadn't made any new sweet wines lately. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I like my dry wines, I drink dry wine, and would only make dry wine if I could get away with it. But, I am also keenly aware that my sweet wine sales outnumber my dry wines sales. It's just a reality being a small winery in Pennsylvania.

And, I'm proud of our sweet wines. All of them are technically sound, they are unique, and well-made. I can see why our customers like them. It makes me a little schizophrenic at times, but I'm OK with that. (And so am I....)

This spring we brought in some apple juice that we concentrated by freezing. It's now fermenting away in a cold tank, probably for the next month. Not sure what we'll call it, but it should be a an Aria-style wine. The wine smells like intense apples. Think green Jolly Ranchers if they were trying to make them smell like Golden Delicious instead of Granny Smiths. I can imagine the different desserts it'll go with.....

And, I'm playing around with the idea of doing a blueberry wine. Yeah, yeah, I know, I always said I wasn't doing anymore fruit wines. But I have had some really nice blueberry wines from Bartlett's in Maine, and they are intriguing. Not that I could make ones like they do (mine won't be dry), but it seemed like an interesting challenge. I like challenges, even if they kick my butt sometimes. (Remember, it took me four tries to get Red Lion Red right, and it works now.)

That may be it for a while. I do still have my dry wines that I am tinkering with. Hopefully this will keep all you sweeties happy for a while.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Way Things Change

Change.  Musicians want it.  Politicians want you to think that they'll bring it about.  I can't live without it.  Just ask the people around me.  I guess I always think there's a way to do things better around here.

I think back about the way things looked when we first showed up back in 2001.  I remember driving down the Sechrist toward the winery and pulling in with Kris and Carl (age 1) in the back seat.  I remember seeing the winery and the old trailers and the trash out front and the musty smell in the tasting room and the dark, dampness in the cellar.  I also remember that I had a cold and couldn't taste anything.  And, John poured us a taste of the 1997 Cadenza, and I was impressed.  

Then, he poured me a taste of the 1991 Cadenza and I was floored.  Totally blown away.  What an awesome wine.  Even with my head-cold, I could see the brilliance that this man created in his wines.

Things have changed since then.  I have lived by the mantra that a business has to spend money to make money. (John never understood that.  He lived by the Field of Dreams "If you build it, they will come" motto.  Doesn't work too well in Brogue.)  So, early on we spent money on advertising, but lately we have spent money on expanding our vineyard and production area.  And, related to this, we may be expanding our tasting/event area.

Back when John and Tim ran the winery, they produced around 4-5K gallons annually.  We're now about three times that.  They didn't really have any employees.  We now have about 23 people on staff (mostly part-time.)  They never did festivals.  We take our wine on the road as much as we can.  They didn't have other stores.  We have five.

But, you know, would I trade what we have for what they had?  I don't know.  I also have a family that this winery helps to support.  They did almost exclusively dry wines, while I end up making a lot of sweet wines.  It's just a different path.

I have to say that because of our size, we are now surrounded by some of the most interesting and special people that I am proud to call part of the Allegro family.  If we were smaller, this wouldn't be part of my world.  I also come in to contact with so many people that love our sweet wines.  And although I don't personally drink those wines, I feel good about bringing a bit of happiness into their lives.  Our winery is different and things have changed, but you know, I like it this way.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Dunkin' Donuts

It's probably been pretty obvious that I've been busy. It's the middle of March, and we're in the middle of Tour de Tanks. This wine trail event has really transformed what business is like for wineries in this region. Prior to this event, I would probably get about 75 people coming out to our winery during this month. Nowadays, we get over 3000 people.

As a winery, we're of course in the business of selling wine, and being able to get this many people through our door has been amazing. Granted, we're not the only winery most of these people are visiting. So, after we have basically fed them lunch--we go all out of the food--it does get a little disappointing to see some people leave with only one bottle from us.

But, I try to have a longer range view of things. Sure, I may not be selling a whole lot to each of them. But I know that these same people are comparing apple-to-apples so to speak. They can try our wines and try other people's wines. And, in this down economy, our wine sales at the winery are up 10% over last year. It makes me feel good.

So, as I get ready for another day talking to potentially 500 people, I remember what this means to our family winery. Even though I sometimes feel like I'm working for Dunkin' Donuts ("time to make the donuts.....")

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Breaking of Winter

I noticed it today. Small spots of grass peaking their blades through the spaces of snow. And then, there were larger spots of green. Or, rather, gray-yellow-green, of the hibernating grasses that lay dormant under the covering of white.

No matter how much enjoyment my boys have enjoyed the days' off from school, no matter how much I enjoy the changing and diversity of the seasons. I am ready for spring. I am ready for summer. I am ready for spring.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Big Snow of 2010, Part 2

After spending the last two days dealing with snow, I am now totally convinced of the concept of climate change. (Just because some people call it "global warming" doesn't mean it doesn't affect the winter times.)

As someone who lives and dies by the weather--in that I follow it religiously during most of the year due to vineyard issues--I am starting to notice some patterns. Basically, the weather forecasts seem to be getting more and more inaccurate. I've got a feeling that the predictor models are based on decades of weather data, and that they may not be as indicative of weather in 2010.

Now, I haven't been just thinking this because I've been dealing with so much snow that it's even hard for my boys to enjoy it. I've been seeing the local forecasts as well as some internet ones missing big storms as well as overcalling some near misses.

If there are any meteorologists out there who think I am way off my rocker, let me know. In the meantime, I'll be digging out from what was called a 5" snow a few days before it hit.....

Sunday, February 7, 2010

More Snow and More Snow and More Snow

Like most of you on the East Coast, we got buried in snow starting Friday.  Probably got over two feet, but the drifts in front of the winery were a good 30".  It took me 15 minutes to plow a single lane with my tractor 25 feet long to our front door.  The four-wheel drive tractor could barely drive forward through the stuff, let alone push the snow.

I have to say that I am glad we got all of our tanks moved outside before all this hit.  We even filled them with the next batch of Suite for cold-stabilization.  I tried to go out and check the temperature in the tanks yesterday, but the stairwell to the crushpad was full of snow....

I don't think we've seen this big a dumping since 2004 when we had to cancel our Sweet Release weekend and I plowed for two days.  There's just a lot of snow out there.

That said, I think 4WD vehicles should be able to make it into our drive today if they really want to.  Good luck.  I'll be on the tractor if you need me......

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Moving

I'm torn these days.  I spent most of yesterday moving tanks around. We have a few tanks in our winery--horizontal ones that take up a lot of space--that we use for cold stabilization.  (These are old milk tanks from the dairy industry that we converted years ago for wine production.  What's good enough for milk is plenty good enough for wine--we have alcohol on our side!)

Every year we cold-stabilize our wines.  This involves bringing the temperature of the wine down to around 26F--depending on the alcohol content--and holding it there.  We then seed the wine with some potassium bitartrate in order to start a crystallization process that helps pull the excess tartaric acid out of solution.  Now, this sounds all fancy and chemistry-like, but every winery in the world does this or some form of this.  The aim of this is to have the crystals deposit in the tank so they don't deposit in the bottle in your fridge at home.

Interesting fact: the crystals we pull out of the wine?  It also goes by the name of "cream of tartar".  That's right, the stuff used in baking comes from the wine industry.  Neat, huh?

It takes a lot of energy to bring these wines to these low temperatures and hold them, especially when we're trying to keep the rest of the winery a little warmer (67F) in order to get our MLs to run in the barrels.  So, the idea was to take the tanks outside--where it's colder--and save some energy and space costs.  (Yes, space costs money.  It's why you are charged to put things in storage units.)

Opening up the space has made me realize that we could be using this barrel room as a Barrel Room.  In other words, use it for events and other marketing nonsense.  Perhaps sell a few more bottles of wine.  Now, I'd love to sell more wine, especially if it's the reds and whites I enjoy making so much.  But the site of a newly-freed-up wall just begs for more tanks and barrels to fill it, not tables and chairs. 

In any case, we're not quite done with the moving yet.  Just got about 3-4 inches of snow last night.  It's going to be fun sledding around with the forklift today.....

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bottles

We're doing a lot of bottling these days, so I'm thinking about bottles a lot.  It's all part of the packaging of our product.  Back when Kris was involved in our day-to-day decisions, she said she wanted to make our bottles look as good as the wine tasted.  She accomplished that.

We use a few different types of bottles.....and I've been trying to make it easier on our warehousing and storage of them by not using too many.  But, I also feel strongly traditional in this sense.  I can't imagine Chardonnay in anything else but a Burgundy bottle, and Merlot and Cabernet have to go in a Bordeaux.  Riesling is in a hoch (although we do it in blue....why?  Because it sells better that way.  Believe me.  Most package decisions are made purely on making the wine more saleable.  If you find a cool bottle at the state liquor store, you can pretty much be assured that the wine is just as uncool that's in it.  That's marketing.)

We get asked from time to time if we can re-use the bottles, and unfortunately we can't.  The bottles we purchase from our suppliers come to us sterilized.  (Sure, every once in a while a small piece of cardboard dust makes it into the bottle, but it's STERILE dust....)  There's no way on earth that I could take a used bottle and sterilize it so that it could be re-used.  It's just asking for trouble.  A few stray bacteria in the bottle and, poof, bad wine.  Or worse, refermenting wine that pops the cork on somebody's brand new white rug.  Not worth the risk.

Now, I have been reading that there's a company on the west coast that is going to start recycling bottles.  There have been companies like this around from time to time, but they have never been successful long-term.  I'm hoping this one will be--and that they find a way to open a branch on the east coast.  This is an idea whose time has come.  Most bottles are used once, and not all of them make it into recycling bins.  (In fact, at Allegro, we have to drive about 5 miles to our recycling station.  No curbside pickup in Brogue....)

In Europe, they have been re-using (re-sterilizing) bottles for years, and I read that the average bottle makes about 7 trips around before it's melted and remolded into something else.  Most of the carbon footprint for wine bottles comes in the making.  I sure would sleep better at night knowing we were being a bit more energy efficient with our bottles.  Once the re-sterilized bottles are available near Pennsylvania, you can bet I'll be using them.....

Monday, January 18, 2010

Personality

Brenda--the person who has the difficult task of trying to convince me that marketing works--once asked me if I thought there were similarities between a winemaker's personality and their wines.  I think this is an interesting question to play around with.  And, I'm not saying that bad wines are made by bad people and good wines by good people, but rather what style do you end up making the wines in, or what wines do you choose to make based on your personality.

I had the opportunity to taste Chaddsford's 2007 Pinot Noir last night (a blend from Phil Roth's old vineyard and the Eric's Miller Estate Vineyard.)  It was a really nice wine, and it almost made me re-consider my decision never to make Pinot Noir again.  And it reminded me of the personality question.  Pinot Noir is the "exception" grape.  You can do x and y in the cellar to most grapes, EXCEPT Pinot Noir.  Or it's the "especially" grape.  As in, you have to be gentle with all grapes, ESPECIALLY Pinot Noir. 

Pinot Noir is not a team player.  It's not easy to get along with.  It demands special attention in the cellar.  This is not to say that we ignore any of our wines.  It's just that Pinot Noir is like the prima donna of the grape world.  Don't play to its ego you're screwed .  And that's what it's been like for me.

Now, I like tannins.  Always have, probably always will.  Tannins are what protect the wines, make them robust and invigorating.  Tannins separate the wheat from the chaff in the wine-drinking world.  They also allow the wine to put up with an aggressive personality.  I am young and dumb in this wine-world, very much a kitchen-sink winemaker.  (If I think two different things will help a wine, I do them both, not just choose between one or the other.)  When I get a chance with a great vintage, I go for broke.  (Case in point, our 2007 Cadenza.)  No holds barred, throw it all on, and leave it all out on the field (or cellar, as the case may be.)

So, my personality really doesn't jive with Pinot Noir (or Sangiovese, for that matter) that looks to be coddled and caressed and massaged on its way to the bottle.  I like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with their richness and powerful finesse.  Chardonnay that takes to layers and layers of pushing to go to the place I want.  These are wines that fit my personality.  Even, play to it, like it, perhaps even need it.  These are Allegro wines!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Holiday Hangover

Now that the holidays are past, I know a lot of people just stick there heads down and try to grind out a few months.  I remember my first couple jobs out of school when I realized that my next day off was Memorial day in June.  It's a long stretch.  I was always sad to see the holidays come to a close.

Now, it's different, but still a but the same.  I enjoyed the holidays with Kris and my boys, and visiting family.  But in the Allegro side of things, it's time to finally focus on what we're good at: making wine.  Christmas is our vest sales time of the year, bar none.  (I always wonder what happens to all the Holiday Wine Drinkers in July--haven't they heard of Riesling?)  We sell boatloads of wine in November and December--even in this economy--but in January it's as if all the wine drinkers are suffering from a collective hangover. 

Not that it really matters.  I know things pick up again soon, especially with Tour de Tanks coming.  In the winery we're starting to bottle the 2009 wines.  First up is the 2009 Riesling.  We'll get the Vidal bottled soon as well as our new Dry Rose.  Still have the 2008 Claret and 2007 Aria to finish up as well.

Pruning will kick in again soon.  We haven't been that excited to be out pruning this year with the cold temperatures, and the wind and the snow.  We usually get pruning by about this time of year, but our vineyard is still of a manageable enough size that we can hold off a bit.  If we aren't into it in a few weeks, though, I'll start to worry.  Again. 

Winemaking never worries me.  We can always wait until we think things are right to move ahead.  But the vineyard--and Mother Nature herself--won't wat.  She tells us what to do and when to do it.  And, we enjoy it as well....