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.
Above: Some of the moments captured from our blending session.
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.
Above: Scenes from the vineyard on an mid-Winter afternoon.
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...
Above: New growth starts to emerge as the vines come out of dormancy.