Harvest 2015, Part I

Me and Chuck Tauck getting ready to toast the start of harvest on one of those sun-drenched September days.

Me and Chuck Tauck getting ready to toast the start of harvest on one of those sun-drenched September days.

During those sun-drenched late summer days when we started picking back in mid-September, someone asked me about my expectations for Harvest 2015. I began my answer by saying, “Barring a hail storm that takes out the vineyard…”—because, at the time, there had been enough summer heat to nicely ripen our fruit, rain came when we need it, and as a result there was not much disease pressure on the fruit. Harvest 2015 on Sheldrake Point started out glorious!

Don’t worry, the Sheldrake Point vineyard is fine! But those vagaries of nature that we often speak of did show up at the very end of September and the beginning of October. Eight inches of rain fell during a short span of time and that certainly didn’t do us any favors.

Of Riesling and Tonnage

Sheldrake Point’s biggest year for tonnage at harvest was 250 tons in 2013. Then came the winters of 2014 and 2015, both bringing record cold and devastating some Finger Lakes vineyards. We expected our share of tonnage loss from winter damage over two brutal cold seasons, and Harvest 2015 was down nearly a hundred tons from our 2013 record.

A good measure of how this will play out at bottling time is our Riesling crop. As of the first week of November, all the Riesling was in, except for a small amount of fruit intended for a Late Harvest Riesling. It is such a small amount that we will bottle only about 50-60 cases of Late Harvest. All of the other Riesling we brought in will go toward our Dry, Semi Dry, and Luckystone Riesling.

Ice Wine Lesson from Harvest 2015

We won’t be bottling a Riesling ice wine from Harvest 2015, though fortunately we were not actually planning on an ice wine this harvest.

As a lesson on the sometimes tempestuous relationship between Mother Nature and winemakers, if we were planning on a Riesling ice wine for Harvest 2015, we would have to cancel it for lack of grapes. But, never fear, we have plenty of Riesling Ice Wine  on hand because 2013 and 2014 were so prolific.

And, despite lamenting stormy relations, we must tip our hat to the Goddess Gaia for her hand in our award winning 2014 Wild Ferment Riesling Ice Wine.

Empty tanks and empty barrels at the beginning of Harvest 2015. Our tonnage is already pressed into juice and fermented into wine, or will be soon.

Empty tanks and empty barrels at the beginning of Harvest 2015. Our tonnage is already pressed into juice and fermented into wine, or will be soon.

Gallons of Rosé

Our tonnage from Harvest 2015 is already pressed into juice and fermented into wine, or will be soon. The last two fermentations, plus the Late Harvest Riesling, will likely be done by Thanksgiving. The Sheldrake Point Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Rosé are all on track to be very good wines.

Of the 23,000 gallons from Harvest 2015, 12,000 gallons is Rosé, with half of that intended for our custom crush clients.

Expect the same quality you have come to enjoy with our Rosé—but expect much more of it! We will be bottling 2,500 cases for ourselves, up from 1,500 cases of the 2014 vintage that sold out by mid-summer.

Toasting another season

Whenever you open a bottle of our Sheldrake Point wine, you are uncorking the realization of the hopes of a season, and the practical realities of a harvest. In our next post, “Harvest 2015, Part II,” vineyard manager Dave Wiemann tells us more about bringing in fruit this season.

With experience developed in wineries throughout the Finger Lakes, Dave can always be found in our winery or lab, gently and patiently tending to the fermentation and aging of our wines while caring for our tanks, barrels and equipment. Armed with two degrees in chemistry and two in philosophy, Dave not only brings us expertise in the wine lab and on the crush pad, he also can be heard waxing poetic virtues of everything from Plato’s cave to contemporary third-party politics.