Vintage Notes 2009

The 2009 vintage followed another easy winter with neither vine damage nor bud mortality.  Spring came early and stayed relatively dry as the vines pushed early with bud break on May 3 and bloom about mid-June.  June and July were both were warmer than average but not unusually wet and the vintage was enjoying ideal conditions.

Veraison started in the early varieties about August first and was over by August 15. However, late August was cool with only 70% (386) growing degree-days of monthly average (550 gdd), and through September we experienced generally warm and wet conditions that challenged ripening at a very critical time.  As we approached the typical harvest weeks of late September and October, we delayed and delayed as we watched the sugars push higher.  However, acid in the berries remained higher than we liked and, while risky, each delay of harvest anticipated the needed drop in acid.

The weather fairy was on our side in mid-October when a hard freeze blanketed the entire Finger Lakes region, effectively ending the growing season for all vineyards . . . except Sheldrake Point!  Somehow a combination of 1) our proximity to Cayuga Lake, 2) the low (relative) elevation of Cayuga Lake, and 3) favorable winds blowing warm air from the lake all contributed to our vineyard not being affected by the freeze.  We enjoyed another three weeks of above-freezing temperatures and were able to extend our harvest into mid-November – our latest ever!

Looking across all varieties, red and whites, acids are fresher in 2009 than 2008 and 2007. Reflecting the season and yield control, some varieties such as Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer showed better ripeness and balance in 2009.

Cabernet Franc was riper and fresher, reminding me of 2002 a well structured, fresher and under appreciated vintage that followed the super ripe 2001.

Our early tastings of the young 2009 wines with Riesling still fermenting, and the reds progressing through ml are favorable. Whites are varietally characteristic, clean, well balanced and generally of medium body and flavor intensity. Riesling and Chardonnay look particularly promising.

The bane of all winegrowers, vineyardists and wine makers, namely Pinot Noir, has good varietal expression, looking to be a pretty wine, light colored and reminding me of 2001.

The other reds are in barrel and include Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. These have deep color; good extract, structure and are of Medium(+) body and Medium(+) flavor intensity. These wines merit patience as they continue to evolve and develop.

Bob Madill,
Winegrower & Partner

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