Making a truly exceptional wine is a multi-faceted process. Although it may seem obvious that the end result has to taste amazing, there are many other components to consider along the way. The way a wine smells, looks, and even feels (viscous, oily, etc.) are all integral factors for how the human mind perceives wine.
The very first wine that we are releasing under our Ricci Vineyards family label is a rosé of Pinot Noir. Rosé has taken off in terms of popularity in wine-drinking circles for the diverseness and approachable nature it represents, however, not everybody knows what a rosé wine is. Most people associate rosé as that "pink drink" when they walk down the wine aisle of their grocery store, but as you might already realize, there are no such thing as pink wine grapes (at least, that occur in nature). So, in an attempt to clarify, rosé is a style of wine making and not a varietal of its own. You can make a rosé with almost any red wine grape; it's really a matter of preference.
Well, it certainly has been awhile since we have last contributed to this blog section of the website. It would be easy to say that most of that has to do with the conscious decision to avoid the computer and devote the bulk of our time to friends and family over the holidays, the honest admission is that a bit of laziness played a factor as well.
In any case, hopefully this post will get everyone up to speed. For starters, the 2018 harvest was a huge success in terms of production, as yields were reported to be 20 to 30% above what is considered average. The only downside to such a haul is the potential glut put on the market; meaning there might be some issue on whether winemakers are going to demand as much supply for 2019 ... but we suppose that bridge will be crossed when we get to it.
As far as the current state of things in the vineyard, everything is meandering along as it should at this time of the year. The biggest and most laborious project is the pruning of the vines while they are dormant (and before bud break occurs in a few short months). Pruning may seem straightforward, it demands a fine attention to detail and many years of experience to develop a proper and consistent technique. Aside from just pruning back old wood to promote new growth, each one of our vines is also treated with a special pruning sealant to protect the vine from contracting any fungal diseases. When a cane or cordon is cut on a vine, we want to close the wound to prevent any infections from occurring. So, if you ever walk through a vineyard during winter and notice that the fresh cuts on a vine look like they have been painted, in reality it is essentially a band-aid to ensure the vine remains healthy and infection-free.
The annual grape harvest is a culmination of all the blood, sweat and sacrifice that is put toward the land each year. The many months of preparation and painstakingly long hours lead up to this moment where a whirlwind dance of machines and manpower unite to collect the literal fruit of our labor. While the 2017 harvest was chaotic due to a late-season heat wave that caused a lot of fruit to ripen all at once, 2018 has been quite the opposite. It has been a very mild and cool summer in Carneros this year and the grapes have been lackadaisical in terms of ripening; which has lead to picking crews having to wait idly by and remain patient for the big show to finally start. However, now that harvest has officially commenced we shouldn't complain too much as the yields thus far have been outstanding.
Also, even though believe that each harvest is unique and special in its own way, it is important to point out that the 2018 harvest is noteworthy because it represents the first time that we have ever harvested our fruit with the intention of making our own wine from it. It is fair to say that we will always consider ourselves farmers above all else, but this is an exciting time as a new chapter of our family legacy is just being written. Come springtime next year, we will proudly be able to share our very first bottlings of the Ricci Vineyards label with all of you!
To all of you reading this that work in the wine industry, we want to wish you the very best of luck and success with your own harvests this year. In addition, we want to thank all of the members of our relentlessly hardworking and dedicated vineyard crew...we would cease to be without you rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty on a daily basis.
Here's to a great rest of harvest!
Starting a few years back, we decided it would be neat to host an annual party for family and friends to coincide with the 4th of July festivities. This year's event took place on the final weekend in June and although the event doesn't really have a name, it's still a complete blast all the same. This year we had a great turnout, both with humans and dogs alike! Pretty sure the finally tally was 13 dog attendees total, which is quite the pack.
Not to mention, we had about a baker's dozen of party goers pitch their tents and stay the night. We like to think that everybody was lulled to sleep by the comforting sounds of barn owls screeching in the night and bull frogs croaking by the pond ... or perhaps not (we at least find it comforting).
In any case, we would like to give a big 'thank you' to everybody that made the effort to come out and spend some time with us on the vineyard. It definitely was a fantastic day filled with good food and great times. We hope to see everyone soon and we can't wait to do it all again next year!
(Special thanks to Lorna Underhill and Katie Kohfeld for their photo contributions)
Magic happens every year in the vineyard: the bleak, doldrums of Winter and frost-filled mornings are whisked away with the emergence of Spring and the blossoming of new growth on the vines. Known collectively as "Bud Break" in vineyard-speak, this is the time of the year where the previously groggy, dormant vines are slowly awakened from their winter hibernation to begin another growing season. While this phenomenon is not uncommon in a lot of perennial plants, the occasion is usually a cause of excitement in the wine industry because it means another harvest is only a few short months away.
During the midst of winter, if you look at a bare vine you will notice little notches that run along the length of each existing shoot, or branch, that almost look like knuckles. These "knuckles" are the buds of the vine that will eventually spring to life once the threat of frost has passed and warm weather starts to take hold. In Carneros, bud break usually occurs in mid-to late March, but it can happen as early as February during mild winters and as late as April when the weather is slow to cooperate. Once bud break does happen, you will notice that a previously barren vineyard landscape will suddenly transform into a vibrant scene full of bright green, baby grape leaves. Sometimes it feels like this process happens overnight, but in truth, that is not the case...