This photo says it all. Harvest has nearly come to an end. We’re wrapping up the 2012 growing season with a popular grape that has really earned its keep this year. Chambourcin. You know her in two forms: a dry red and a beautiful rosé.
Some notes about Chambourcin from Ross, our assistant vineyard manager. It’s a lovely read, so you should pour yourself a glass of something beforehand.
I think this year has been a testament to the persistence and adaptability of our favorite woody perennial. The year awakened early with mild temperatures in the spring. Pruning in the warmth was bitter sweet; we enjoyed a break from the biting cold but the warmth woke the vines up early. As the buds began emerging, the promise and beauty of the new growth was mingled with dark foreboding; an early frost would almost certainly kill the new shoots. The frost happened and, although not as bad as it could have been, the damage was disheartening. Would the vines come back and bear fruit? As the year progressed, the vines began to give subtle hints that their sweet berries would grace the vineyard in abundance!
Once clear of the perils of spring, another challenge loomed for the vines and their young fruit. Day after day and week after week passed without rain. The ground dried out and cracked. Grass lost all trace of green and stopped growing (less mowing!). This type of weather being quite unusual for this region, many were watching with great consternation. Tales of failures in other crops prompted a wary eye to be cast across the rows of vines, so recently in danger from the frost. But at the end of the year looking back, we can all be thankful for the persistence of the grape! Not only did the vines make it through, but in response to the hardships the canopies of leaves and graceful tendrils were open to the nourishing sunlight, the salubrious breezes, and the eager harvesters more than ever before. What an amazing year; this will be a vintage to enjoy with thankfulness. Thankfulness that good things come from life’s many pressures.
What do wine grapes and babies have in common? They are precious, and they don’t sleep. Traminette was ready to pick this morning, mud or shine. One more day on the vine could have exposed Traminette to the dangers of rot and over ripening, and we didn’t want to lose the optimal flavor bursting from these grapes today. The rain was just background noise.
Traminette is a delicious white grape that makes a floral/spicy aromatic wine with a hint of sweetness and a lingering aftertaste. It’s the Midwest version of Gewürztraminer, and so widely loved that it’s been chosen as Indiana’s signature wine. We have two fields ready to pick today, roughly 18 tons of fruit, and are crushing some now, actually.
Basically, the vineyard looked like a screensaver yesterday. We were lucky enough to walk through it all morning, harvesting row by row until we collected 1.5 tons of Chardonnay and eight tons (the average weight of an adult male elephant, btw) of Vignoles.
A word on Vignoles. We grow it on some of the highest and best ground at Creekbend because it is typically slow growing, small producing and prone to rot. When done right, its flavor is a beautiful balance of peach, pear and apricot. This year’s vintage tastes amazing. Skins are warm yellow and tie dyed with rustic purple. Looks weathered like your grandma’s Tupperware. Tastes as clean as the best German Riesling.
Chardonnay was harvested first thing yesterday morning and our winemakers were crushing it in batches before lunchtime. Another delicious grape, though entirely different in flavor. This fruit has a rich honey profile with lemony finish — very sweet as a grape, but after fermentation it will make a dry white wine with almost no residual sugar. We like it in either form.
We’ll be harvesting four days straight next week. Stay tuned! The fun is just beginning.
It has been a while since my last blog. We have been busy in the vineyard pruning as well as helping out in production on those really nasty days. In the vineyard we are happy to have a new piece of equipment that has been a real time saver and reduced the strain on everyone’s shoulders. As you can see in this video it is a trailer on which the staff rides to prune the vines at about waist high instead of shoulder high.
It also gives everyone a steady pace to work at. The crew is happy to be out of the mud and snow and we haven’t had any problems with our shoulders. What a great addition to the vineyard!
On Wednesday, a few of us gathered in the lab to commence what has become an annual pre-holiday tradition: tasting wines for our “library release.”
Every year, we pull a few (okay, a bunch) of wines from our library and evaluate them to determine which ones are ready for a re-release. We are looking for wines that have aged gracefully and taste great. Wines that you can share with loved ones at your holiday table or tuck into your cellar for next year.
And, it’s a lot of fun! Take a look at some pictures from this year’s tasting.
We picked some excellent library wines this year and they go on sale today!
Here is just a peak, more info about the wines can be found on our website.
2001 Cabernet Sauvignon: $40
2002 Cabernet Sauvignon: $40
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon: $60
Creekbend Pinot Grigio 2007: $30
Creekbend Chambourcin 2008: $30
Shiraz Reserve 2003: $35
Starting this weekend, we will also be offering a tasting flight of three of these wines (Shiraz Reserve, Chambourcin and the ’02 Cabernet) for a small fee.
I hope you can stop by soon to stock up on these special wines!
Founded in 1972, Oliver Winery is Indiana’s oldest and largest winery. We are located in Bloomington, Indiana. We make over 40 varieties of wine from classic viniferia like Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio to fruit wines like Blackberry. We also make a line of wines called the Creekbend Collection which are made exclusively from grapes grown in our Monroe County vineyard, Creekbend. We operate a Tasting Room that is open year round for tasting and weekend tours. Our wines are available for sale in our Tasting Room, distributed in eighteen states and through our online store: www.oliverwinery.com.