Thoughts on Harvest 2017

From the desk of Winemaker Tim Crowe...

What a vintage! We experienced all the ups and downs I normally associate with a growing season in Virginia, with the daunting hurricane forecasts to boot. Who could ask for anything more? But as I walk through the cellar and taste fermenting tanks and barrels, my overall impression is that we prevailed. Despite the early budbreak, seemingly incessant rains, and unseasonably warm weather occurring throughout the season, the absolutely consistent warmth created fruit with full ripeness when harvest time came. To succeed in this vintage, it simply became a matter of trimming the excess to balance things out on the vine. 

What comes of creating a fruit to canopy balance? Estate Rosé - and plenty of it! And the longer we waited to hand sort the varieties after veraison, the sweeter was the Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes that are now part of this now iconic blend. By the time the Rosé was picked and in the cellar, the Sauvignon Blanc (a delicious bumper crop for fans who may be eagerly awaiting in 2018) was already beginning to ferment in its wooden, stainless steel and concrete vessels. Shortly thereafter, things continued apace with the picking of Viognier, Chardonnay and the reds. We chose picking dates to avoid a few downpours, but allowed for continued hang time to sweeten the fruit where we could. As of October 7th, all of our estate fruit has made its way into the cellar, where fermentations are well on their way. 

Were there challenges? Yes - but we continue to abide by the dictum “less is more.” In so doing, we managed to sculpt the crop to a level - across the vineyards - that gave the vines a chance to prove both their power and elegance in the grapes produced.

After spending the better part of the last month in the vineyards working with our vineyard crew to carve out a harvest, the word that came to mind most was finite. A finite number of leaves to ripen the fruit… A finite number of berries that require photosynthesis… A finite quantity of sugars that will accrue in each berry… And a finite number of days for us to make decisions that will determine the quality of the harvest. Finite.

To see the brilliant Fall sunsets now surrounded by the yellow and scarlet leaves, it is hard to believe things can come and go in such limited fashion. But they do, with their passing, the wine growing cycle will begin all over again in a few short cool months. This harvest marks number Thirty (!) for me, and I would be hard pressed to think of a more scenic place to enjoy that anniversary. Thanks to all who made this possible, especially Mike and Kristi who were responsible for bringing me here to be part of this project. Here’s to Joy in Every Bottle!

Salud!

Tim Crowe

Winemaker