Vintage Notes 2003

This is our 5th harvest of our estate vineyard and we will hand pick grapes from all of our 38 acres planted at Sheldrake Point. The five acres of our oldest vines planted in 1997 include Pinot Noir, Gamay, Riesling and Cabernet Franc. Our youngest block is one acre of Cabernet Sauvignon, and this year we will harvest this variety for the first time. We will also harvest a few hundred lbs of Syrah!

Last winter was cold and snowy in the Finger Lakes. While the excellent water and air drainage of our lakeside site afforded us considerable protection, even here the episodes of very cold weather killed vine buds thereby reducing our overall crop from a normal yield of 120 tons to an estimated 75 tons. We also lost some vines to winter kill and will replant these to maintain full productivity of our vineyard.

The spring was cool and somewhat wet. This made it difficult to work the rows and challenging to maintain our viticultural standards. In other words, we had to battle weeds more than usual. The spring also delayed fruit formation and ripening, and we are just now catching up to seasonal averages for heat units. To ensure proper ripening and the exposure of fruit to early morning sun, our crews have been removing leaves from the fruit zone, mostly on the east side of the rows.

In order to achieve the wine quality standards that we have established for Sheldrake Point, we must produce healthy fruit and achieve a high degree of concentration in the grapes. Our canopy management program deals with the first issue, and our crop management with the second. One of the key steps is to grow vines that are in balance with the quantity of grapes they carry. This entails reducing the crop by removing bunches. For example, in Pinot Noir, this means no more that one bunch per strong shoot. This year our Pinot will yield only 4.5 tons of fruit, just a little over one ton per acre! A sunny August and September have helped considerably and we expect the quality of the grapes and resulting wines to be very good. Once again we plan to produce Riesling and Cabernet Franc Ice Wines, as well as a very special wine “Vin de Paille”. The Ice Wines are produced from grapes left on the vines to freeze during winter, and harvested and pressed as frozen grapes in the traditional manner. Ice wines are sweet, balanced with vivacious acidity and full of intense flavors. Vin de Paille, or straw wine, is produced from grapes that have been picked at the peak of ripeness, dried to reduce the water they contain, and then pressed yielding a complex, unctuous and intense wine a true labor of love and a rarity.

A sunny August and September have helped considerably and we expect the quality of the grapes and resulting wines to be very good. Once again we plan to produce Riesling and Cabernet Franc Ice Wines, as well as a very special wine “Vin de Paille”. The Ice Wines are produced from grapes left on the vines to freeze during winter, and harvested and pressed as frozen grapes in the traditional manner. Ice wines are sweet, balanced with vivacious acidity and full of intense flavors. Vin de Paille, or straw wine, is produced from grapes that have been picked at the peak of ripeness, dried to reduce the water they contain, and then pressed yielding a complex, unctuous and intense wine – a true labor of love and a rarity.

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