Check back often for news on harvest, winemaking, events and other fun wine-related things.
Have you ever seen crystals or "wine diamonds" form in your wine or on a cork? Those are most likely deposits of tartrates that have precipitated out of your wine. To minimize this, we cold stabilize our white and rose' wines. Formation of crystals is less likely in red wines, so we don't cold stabilize reds.
With the right setup, cold stabilization is easy. Wine is chilled to a temperature just above its freezing point and is held at that temperature for two to three weeks.
We generally use 35 degrees. The frosty tank on the left has a built-in cooling jacket connected to a glycol chiller. The cold glycol circulates through the jacket and chills the wine in the tank. This lowers the solubility of potassium hydrogen tartrate in the wine (KHT for you chemistry nerds, Cream of Tartar for you bakers) and facilitates their crystallization and precipitation. The tartrates bind to the inside of the tank where they can be removed after pumping the now stable wine to another tank. The cooling fin in the other photo is covered with tartrates after stabilization and wine removal.
The result is wine that is unlikely to produce crystals after refrigeration at home. If you do find these crystals in your wine, they are harmless.
Savor Northwest recently released their "20 Northwest Cabernet Sauvignons That Blew us Away in 2020". Two of our wines made the list!
Fly Rod Cellars 2016 Stimulator Cabernet Sauvignon
Fly Rod Cellars is an occasional project of Convergence Zone Cellars' assistant winemaker Troy Mandeville and cellarmaster John Richardson. This Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon shows a deep ruby and offers forward sweet and spicy aromas of jammy black fruit and black peppercorn with notes of smoked cedar and sweet tobacco. Nicely structured on the palate, it presents flavors of tart black cherry balanced with textured tannins that display notes of cocoa and earthy, aromatic hints of graphite and dried herbs.
AVA: Columbia Valley
JUDGES SCORE: 93 Points
Convergence Zone Cellars 2016 Squall Line Cabernet Sauvignon
North Bend, Washington's Convergence Zone Cellars used Horse Heaven Hill fruit for this Cabernet Sauvignon that offers aromas of black fruit, leather, dried herbs and Allspice. On the palate, it's juicy with flavors of black cherry and blackberry balanced by peppery spice, earthy violet and a finish hinting at coffee dusted dark chocolate.
AVA: Horse Heaven Hills, Washington
JUDGES SCORE: 92 Points
We are in a Phase 2 area, meaning you can now taste wine inside our winery. If the weather is nice, outdoor seating will also be available.
Tasting hours are Saturdays from 1:00-5:00 pm. Reservations are not required, but encouraged since we have limited seating. Just complete the contact us form and tell us your requested date, time and number of people. We will confirm via email.
You can also purchase wine via appointment. Just place your order online and contact us to arrange a pickup date and time.
We've decided to stay open on Saturdays from 1:00-5:00 pm for wine purchases and pickups. You can order online and we will have your wines ready for you during those hours or by appointment any day of the week. Tastings will resume as soon as COVID restrictions allow. Stay safe out there and remember to wear a mask!
Our Fall New Wine Release features three wines from the stellar 2018 vintage that are perfect matches for your Thanksgiving and holiday meals. These wines will be available for tasting and purchase beginning November 14 from 1:00-5:00 pm at the winery. They are available now online. Tasting reservations are recommended as we can only accomodate three groups at a time--use our Contact Us form to request your time and size of your group (in the "Comments" field).
We finished the 2020 grape harvest on October 20 and put our last wines in barrel on November 9. For those who like numbers, here is some fun data about the 2020 harvest:
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.
Save 40% now on cases of our 2019 Three Forks Rose' and 2014 Mistral GSM Blend. Rose' is great any time of the year-- #Rose'AllDay. Normally $240/case, our Rose' is priced at $144/case, a savings of $96. Our fruity and earthy Mistral is normally $396/case, on sale now for only $237.60, a savings of $158.40. Sales tax and shipping (if applcable) not included.
You can reserve your cases now by purchasing online and choosing either shipping ($19.98 flat rate) or winery pickup. Sale pricing valid through Nov. 1 or until the wine is sold out.