Archive for the ‘News’ Category.

2017 Harvest Update: September 8th

winery vistAlan and Jody Rassie are the owners of Rassie Farms. They grow blueberries and several varieties of grapes for us, including Valvin Muscat, Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Cabernet Franc. Their vineyard is situated high on the Lake Erie Escarpment, which not only gives them a spectacular view of the lake plain and Lake Erie, but also puts them in one of the prime spots to take full advantage of the Lake Erie microclimate. Alan and Jody can often be seen in their vineyards, tending each vine by hand, ensuring the best quality fruit.

This year, we will be getting a new variety (for us) from them: Grüner Veltliner, which has roots in Austria, and is proving to be a strong producer of exceptional wines in the region. Made as a dry white wine, it is characterized by aromas of lime, lemon and white pepper with a solid backbone of acidity. A superb wine with food! Since it is new, it is also a bit unknown in terms of when we can expect to harvest it. Our strategy is to test it at least once a week now, tracking the accumulation of sugar, while also watching the acid (measuring both titratable acid and pH), and of course, monitoring the flavors as they develop in the grape.

In addition to keeping an eye on the grapes in the vineyard, we’re also watching the weather forecast. Depending on their path, the hurricanes that are currently threatening the Florida coast may eventually make their way to our region in remnant form and could potentially bring rainy weather. For varieties that are close to harvest, an extended period of rain can have a negative impact on quality – too much water to the berries dilutes sugar and flavor, and in extreme cases, causes the fruit literally to swell to the bursting point. Extended wet periods can also support the growth of molds and mildews, totally disrupting the final ripening process and resulting in an unusable crop. Given all of this, the next week will be a time where we talk with our growers frequently, watch the weather closely, and be ready to “pull the trigger” early if unusually wet conditions make it necessary. It could be a compromise situation, but having slightly less than fully ripe fruit is better than no fruit at all

Life is never dull for the eastern winemaker. Think good thoughts and stay tuned for the next week’s developments.

Bob Green
PIWC Executive Winemaker

2017 Harvest Update: September 1st

seyval-grapes.jpgReport 1 – September 1, 2017

Being a grape grower in the Lake Erie Region never gets boring. Every growing season, it seems, has its own progression, which really starts the year before when the primordial buds—those that will bear fruit the following year—are formed.  So, looking back, we note that we had a stellar year in 2016, resulting in healthy vines that were in prime condition going into a what turned out to be a very mild winter.

We avoided early spring bud damage, even though we had unseasonably warm temperatures from mid-February through early March that came close to initiating bud growth. It cooled off after that, and we continued to be ahead of schedule through most of the rest of the growing season. Fruit set (the number of berries that actually develop on the new clusters after bloom) was good, setting the stage for a relatively large crop.

Summer turned out to be cool and wet—not really what we like to see for our grapes. Molds and mildews can start to show up, and it takes a concentrated effort by the grower to keep them under control. Our growers understand the importance of this effort, and the vineyards that I have seen in my visits are all clean and healthy. For most of the wine varieties, adjustments were made to reduce the amount of fruit the vine was carrying and optimize bunch development – removing excess shoots and clusters, removing leaves to allow more sunlight to get to the clusters and allow better air movement to aid in keeping molds and mildews at bay.   At the end of July, the weather pattern changed, and became much drier but cooler temperatures remained with nighttime temperatures dipping into the 50’s.

This is where it gets interesting. Grapes reach a point in their growth cycle that we refer to as veraison, marking the final stages of ripening and flavor development.  It is during this time that pigment starts to develop in the skins, most noticeably of course, in red wine varieties, and all-important varietal character develops. Weather during this time seems to be more critical to overall quality than earlier in the season; a warm and dry post-veraison period can more than make up for cool and wet conditions earlier in the year.

Veraison is triggered by cool nights like we tend to see starting the end of August. This year, though, with cooler daytime and nighttime temperatures earlier than normal, we observed veraison beginning in our Cabernet Franc on Aug 15, almost 2 weeks ahead of schedule. What this will mean for this year’s crop wine quality is still unknown—but it is encouraging.  Beginning veraison early gives more ripening time and has the potential to allow for exceptional ripeness and flavor development. We’ll start to know more as we continue testing grapes in the vineyard, and the final answer will be apparent at harvest time.

Stay tuned to my upcoming posts to see how the story develops.  Cheers!

Bob Green
PIWC Executive Winemaker

Australian Juices Have Arrived!

See our Beautiful Australian Juices

Our three varieties of Australian juice- vibrant color, excellent quality, fresh, and oh so beautiful!

Our anticipated Australian juices have arrived from the land down under, and they are beautiful! They are awaiting your purchase and pickup in our refrigerated trailers. Remember, this is a unique opportunity to work with fresh Australian juice, We searched long and had to find a source of juice at this level of quality. You won’t be disappointed.

From Our Winemaker

The juices shipped straight from Australia by boat in a refrigerated container with a constant temperature of 33°, just above freezing to maintain freshness. After arriving at port in NY,  and clearing customs, it was expedited by truck to Presque Isle Wine Cellars in the same refrigerated container, assuring us the freshest juice possible.

The juice arrived in plastic liners placed inside of metal drums. A great deal of effort has gone into the packaging, allowing as little air contact as possible. This juice is not from concentrate, but is 100%  Aussie juice- no water added.

This is a product I would suggest every winemaker to take advantage of, as I look forward to this as being the highest quality juice that we have ever sourced out.

Our Australian Juice is awaiting your pickup in our refrigerated coolers.

Our Australian Juice is awaiting your pickup in our refrigerated coolers.

We are currently in the process of restoring our previous harvest blog posts.

Check back to see previous “Happenings on the Hill” posts, as well as learn more insider details about our annual fall harvest.