Monday, November 17, 2014

A Look Back at 2014

Or at least a quick peak on the vintage.  We're just getting settled into the year of winemaking with most of the wines racked out of their primary fermentations and all of the barrels filled at this point.  I am starting to get a sense of what 2014 means to us, and I am a lot happier than I thought I would be three months ago.

This year started out, of course, with the advent of the "polar vortex" weather patterns that brought the coldest weather I've ever seen here at Allegro.  We bottomed-out at -2 F one morning.  Most of our vines are pretty good to about -5 F as far as vine survivability goes.  But that doesn't mean that all the buds are safe at warmer temperatures.  This is what happened to be the case with our Pinot Noir and Merlot as both varieties took a hit in the yield department.  Luckily, it only account for about a half acre of our production, but it's depressing nonetheless when you still have to work the vines all year and don't have much to show for it.

The budbreak this spring was the latest I've seen as well, and the spring and early summer one of the coolest and wettest since 2003 and 2000.  For those of you who were growing grapes back then, we all knew this was a bad sign.  The wines I made in those two vintages were lackluster at best.  And 2014 was tracking to be a similar type of year.

As summer wore on, it became painfully evident that we weren't going to have a summer.  At least not one that had any heat to it.  It was pleasant, but with the mild temperatures and the significant rainfall, Nelson was getting a good case of tractor-butt from spraying so often.  It all paid off in the long run and we were squeaky clean in our leaf canopy all the way to leaf-fall at the end.  Additionally, all those healthy leaves managed to take full advantage of the small bits of sunshine throughout the year.  And more importantly, all of the sunshine we had in the gorgeous September that followed.  Without the six weeks or so from the end of August to the beginning of October, we would have been royally screwed, behind the eight ball, and pushed to our limit to make serviceable wines.  But Mother nature smiled on us.

I've only started doing any sort of systematic tasting through our wines, but my initial reaction is that I am very impressed.  These wines will have classic East coast profiles to them, with great aromatics, firm and supple tannins and wonderful colors.  In my opinion, the wines will shape up to be similar to our 2001s (some of which are still aging beautifully.)  They will be remarkable wines for years to come and hopefully set a standard for what we can do in this region even when the vintage tries to move against us.

I've said it many times before....I think we're past saying that there are good and bad vintages.  I think we have great years, goods years, and tough years.  But--barring any natural disasters or human mistakes--going forward we should always have reputable wines.  This is what makes making wine on this coast so much fun. It's always different and never easy.  If it was, everybody would be doing it.


  1. Great article Carl. Just wanted to let you know I was pleasantly suprised last evening as I went out with some friends to the New Oxford Social Club. I asked what kind of wine they had to offer and I was told that Allegro Suite was on the menu. WOW! Well....long story short...I had everyone drinking Suite before I left there. You are the best!

    Tony & Debra Hippensteel

  2. Tony & Debra,

    Great to hear from you and thanks for your support! I'm surprised, because I was unaware that they carried our wine...I'll have to look into it.




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