Check back often for news on harvest, winemaking, events and other fun wine-related things.
Now that harvest is over, we can get ready for the busy holiday season, fine-tune our wines and prepare for next year's bottling. This week we will start malolactic fermentation (ML) in our newly barreled red wines. This secondary fermentation converts harsh malic acid in the wine to the softer lactic acid. This takes from one to three months. Once that's complete, we can top off the barrels and let them rest for awhile.
Bottling will be in February or March, but corks, screwcaps and bottles need to be ordered in the next few weeks. The red wines need to be blended, so we are doing more blending trials this weekend. Soon after, we will create the blends and let them rest in barrels until bottling.
Finally, we are working on some great holiday specials so watch your email and our website for details later this month
Our 2020 grape harvest has begun! Pinot Gris has typically been our first pick, but for the first time in 10 years, we started with Merlot from Red Mountain's Quintessence Vineyard. This wonderful fruit will be part of the 2020 Fly Rod Cellars wine. Harvest was Sept. 9, we crushed that night and did a three day cold soak to help bring out color from the skins. Then we began a very active fermentation (photo to right).
Next was our Gamache Vineyard Pinot Gris, used for our Three Forks Rose'. Harvest was Sept. 10, and crush was Sept. 12. After a three day cold soak, the juice was a pinkish-red, ready for pressing and settling. Fermentation has started in stainless steel tank, and we expect to do a long, cool fermentation to maintain flavors and aromas.
Our next scheduled picks were delayed due to hazardous air quality for the vineyard workers due to wildfire smoke. Our final pick of Red Mountain Merlot (from Ciel du Cheval Vineyard) was Sept. 19. Our Ciel du Cheval Grenache is scheduled for Sept. 22. The good news is that the smoke filtered the sun, so ripening was also delayed. The smoke has now cleared, the skies are sunny and blue, and the weather is warm. Hopefully harvest 2020 will finish without more challenges.
What impact will smoke have on the 2020 wines? We're a bit unsure at this point. Smoke taint isn't always perceptible in the grapes or newly finished wines. It often shows up after bottle aging. We had a week or more of smoky, hazardous air. Several sources said that the smoke was mostly larger particles that do not penetrate grape skins. The smaller particles that would be a concern peaked for only about 90 min., so their impact could be minimal.
We are monitoring ongoing smoke taint information from Washington State University and our industry orgainzations. We can make a few changes to our normal winemaking techniques to minimize smoke taint in finished wines, but so far haven't found it necessary. If wine ends up smoke tainted, the best advice right is to drink it early and not let it age.
July is our Summer Wine Release month. Due to COVID-19, we will not be having a release event, but you'll be able to taste and purchase these fantastic new wines at the winery or online beginning August 1 (Sunbreak is available now). Descriptions courtesy of The Review of Washington Wines and Wine Press Northwest.
2019 Convergence Zone Cellars “Sunbreak” Chenin Blanc, Snipes Mountain, Upland Vineyard
Chenin Blanc is an undervalued variety. This version shows a brilliant lemon-gold color and aromas of Asian pear-apple, white peach, honeydew melon, grapefruit, pear blossoms, honeysuckle, jasmine and lemon verbena. The flavors are deliciously juicy and vibrant, with notes of pear and grape skins, peach stone and gravelly minerals. The back picks up poire and pêche liqueurs, melon rind and grapefruit peel, followed by a crisp, faintly honeyed finish. Production was 158 cases. $17.00 retail (Wine Club prices $13.60-$14.45) and you can purchase it here.
2019 Fly Rod Cellars Pink Pollywog Rose' of Mourvedre, Wahluke Slope, Weinbau Vineyard
This features a brilliant copper-pink color and lovely aromas of strawberries, Rainier cherries, red currants. lavender and pink incense. The flavors are vivid and nicely extracted, with notes of grape skins, cherry stones and Wahluke Slope minerals, followed by a pleasingly juicy dry finish. Production was only 20 cases! $20.00 retail (Wine Club prices $16.00-$17.00).
2017 Fly Rod Cellars Salmonfly Syrah, Red Mountain, Ciel du Cheval Vineyard
This is another example of Red Mountain's amazing Syrah, and this two-barrel lot is an exquisite expression, offering an experience of black plum, blueberry and Bing cherry, framed by a skillfully presented structure. Production was only 48 cases! $33.00 retail (Wine Club prices $26.40-$28.05)
It was July 2010. After making wine for nearly two years, it was time to open a tasting room. Our first wines (Sunbreak Chenin Blanc, Dewpoint Riesling and Storm Front Red Blend) were well-received and sold out in a few months. In fact we had to close the tasting room for a few months as we ran out of our small quanity of wine.
The brightly colored screen printed bottles were unique and a big hit. The logo stood out and consumers were drawn to something new and exciting. The wine inside was full-bodied, aromatic and balanced. It was the kind of wine that paired well with food with complex flavors, soft tannins and a juicy finish.
It's been 10 years. The world has changed dramatically. Monica and I both retired from our day jobs and are enjoying nature's beauty and more leisure time in North Bend. We've produced 66 different wines and learned a lot along the way. While our winemaking style will not change, you'll start to see a refresh of our brand, beginning with this blog post, newsletter and website.
Other changes coming soon include a new Reserve tier of single vineyard, single varietal and single barrel wines for our Wine Club, new labels and some new back-end system improvements.
Thank you for trusting us to bring you some great wines over the past 10 years. With you continued support, we look forward to the next 10 years!
Scott and Monica Greenberg