Heron HillBlog

Meet our bloggers and find out what's going on at Heron Hill Winery and our other two tasting rooms on Seneca and Canandaigua Lakes! Staff members are writing about the vineyards, what's happening in the cellar, fun events, wine pairings, new releases and more.

John Ingle
 
November 24, 2015 | John Ingle

Thanksgiving at the Ingle home

Thanksgiving at the Ingle home is a perfect opportunity to share the Ingle Vineyard lifestyle with family and friends. Being an avid gardener as well as a grape grower, Thanksgiving is all about homegrown. The festivities begin with Ingle Vineyard Chardonnay unoaked, our favorite wine! Crisp and refreshing with complex flavors of apple and lemon, it satisfies the palate. As we move into the dinner mode our thoughts turn to turkey and a versatile red such as the just released Ingle Vineyard Merlot Reserve 2013. A bright and juicy wine with medium body and a silky mouthfeel that will nicely complement the assorted organic homegrown delicacies such as sweet peas, mashed potatoes, whipped sweet potatoes (yes, all from our Finger Lakes garden) and stuffing made with our carrots, celery, herbs and raisins. Traditional and time-tested flavors. For dessert we look forward to our organic apple cider pie paired with a delicious Ingle Vineyard Icewine 2010. This is a luscious wine that has an intriguing aroma of glycerine followed by creamy sweet flavors of quince and pear – nice foil for the pie.

John Ingle with produce from his garden Heron Hill Reserve Merlot for Thansgiving

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday because it’s all about family, sharing, counting our blessings and enjoying our home. All recommended wines are available at our three tasting rooms and online at heronhill.com. Enjoy!

Heron Hill Winery, Heron Hill Tasting Room at Bristol, and Heron Hill Tasting Room on Seneca Lake are closed on Thanksgiving Day, however please join us for Small Business Saturday. Visit any one of our three locations on November 28th for storewide wine discounts and holiday cheer.

Time Posted: Nov 24, 2015 at 9:00 AM
John Ingle
 
October 15, 2015 | John Ingle

Harvest 2015 plods along in the Finger Lakes.

The harvest season plods along, day-to-day, vineyard-to-vineyard, weather report to report -- it’s hurry up then wait. This convoluted vintage of freezing winter, wet summer, hot September and now cooperative October weather has brought in some beautiful grapes. The scant harvest (1.2 tons) of Pinot Noir brought exciting brix (sugar) levels and great jammy flavors.  The Chardonnay, again a scant quantity (8.5 tons) was declared "perfect" by winemaker Barry Tortolon.  Now we are into the Riesling. Finally good quantities to go with exceptional quality. The 7.5 inches of rain we had in June helped to develop Botrytis (the "noble rot"). We hope this block of Riesling brings a very interesting dessert wine. Next will be Merlot, then Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, late harvest and icewine.

 

Barry Tortolon winemaker with chardonnay harvest time at Ingle Vineyard Riesling bunches from harvest 2015 Heron Hill
Winemaker Barry Tortolon inspecting Chardonnay from Ingle Vineyard; checking Brix in the early morning; clean & ripe Riesling from Keuka Lake.

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Time Posted: Oct 15, 2015 at 7:04 AM
Mark Patterson
 
November 6, 2014 | Mark Patterson

Red Red Wine...You Make Me Feel So Fine

You keep me rocking all of the time.

Which is a good thing this time of year. After one of the busiest weeks of Crush thus far we got to celebrate with...an even busier week. The last of the Ingle Vineyard Riesling came in looking fine. We have left a few rows for a Dessert Wine, but the rest of the Riesling is now happily (for the most part) bubbling away in stainless and will continue to slowly eat-up sugar over the next 3 weeks or so. We also got heavily into Reds this week. First up, we pressed Merlot. Volumes will be down, and the ripeness level is not on par with 2007 or 2012, but we'll try to coax some decent tasty treats out of it. Cabernet Franc followed close behind, with decent tonnage, but somewhat low Brix levels, and a definite 'leaner' character than optimal. However, we've been pleasantly surprised by how well some of the Reds from 'less ripe' years have developed before and I don't see any reason to be less than optimistic about our chances this vintage. Last in, and the last delivery other than grapes destined for Late Harvest and Dessert Wines, was Cabernet Sauvignon. If you've grown fond of the bell pepper character in Cool Climate Cabs, you might have something to look forward to. There are also some nice red berry notes coming through in the unprocessed grapes, so fingers crossed. Tonnage was again down compared to other years, so make sure you stock up when Eclipse Red is released.

Time Posted: Nov 6, 2014 at 6:10 PM
Mark Patterson
 
October 27, 2014 | Mark Patterson

Our House...Is A Very, Very, Very Fine House.

A very fine place...to pick some, fine estate-grown Riesling from the vineyards overlooking beautiful Keuka Lake.
This past week saw everything shift into Hi gear, with the Vineyard in front of the winery being picked.  First up was a small crop from our oldest Block with some amazing, raw floral and fruit notes, and a little bit of minerality even at this early stage.  There was a little bit of 'good' Botrytis cinerea in the mix, which should manifest itself in some apricot notes post-fermentation.
The next day we picked the rest of the Vineyard, which mainly consists of some younger Riesling vines.  Crisp acidity.  Lovely fruit flavours. And, as an added bonus, yields were higher than we anticipated.  Don made the call early in the Winter to leave a few extra buds on the canes prior to pruning to compensate for the Polar Vortex that had already been gripping the Northeast and it paid off with a bit more fruit then expected.  Bonus.
Saturday saw the arrival of the first of the Bordeauxs.  We accepted delivery of some nice, handpicked Merlot which now rests comfortably in a tank and several bins for fermentation.  We looked to be picking our own Cabs form Ingle Vineyard early next week as the jump to Lightspeed continues.

Time Posted: Oct 27, 2014 at 3:00 PM
Mark Patterson
 
October 20, 2014 | Mark Patterson

Simply The Best!

We were honored to host our Harvest Sweepstakes Winners this past week.  Chad and Jen from Portland, Maine had the pleasure of helping pick and process the first lot of Ingle Vineyard Riesling this year, as well as enjoying lunch with John and a Library Tasting with Bernard later on.  Congratulations, Chad and Jen!
We're well into it now, with Riesling coming in from 3 different lakes in the past few days, and looking very nice.  We should be getting more Ingle Vineyard fruit in the coming days, although a glance at this week's weather forecast is not very promising.  The vineyard at Heron Hill will likely be on hold until early next week, with the Reds coming in in short order afterward. 

Finger Lakes vineyard lunch at Heron Hill Sweepstakes Harvest at Ingle Vineyard Heron Hill winemakers with sweepstakes winners

Time Posted: Oct 20, 2014 at 5:00 PM
Mark Patterson
 
October 13, 2014 | Mark Patterson

Once. Twice. Three Times A Lady!

But I'm not sure I love you when you show up 3 hours late with the first load.
Today was already expected to be a pretty busy day, with 3 loads of Chardonnay from the eastside of Seneca Lake expected to arrive starting at 10am.  Equipment issues at the Grower's end lead to a delay in arrival, with the 1st truck finally showing up at just after 1pm, so 3 hours later than planned.  Oh well, these things happen during Crush, and you just have to roll with it. 

We were pleasantly surprised to find out that we were receiving more grapes than we had requested, which will definitely help alleviate some future supply issues down the line. The Chardonnay graped came in at normal Brix levels for Cool Climate Chardonnay, although the berries were a bit smallish.  We should see some good results from theses grapes next Summer when we begin to release 2014 white wines.
The delay allowed us time to catch up on a few other things around the Winery and in the vineyards, with some housekeeping, tank cleaning, mowing, paperwork and miscellaneous other duties all being done while we waited the arrival of the grapes, so the time was not wasted.  On the slate for tomorrow -- pressing of the Ingle Vineyard Pinot Noir.  Time to put that Baby to bed!

Time Posted: Oct 13, 2014 at 7:30 PM
Mark Patterson
 
October 10, 2014 | Mark Patterson

I Washed My Hands In Muddy Waters!

Well, it wasn't really mud.  And I'm not sure that water is an apt descriptor either, but there was likely SOME water amongst all the other detritus I pulled out of the screens leading to the drains.  Ah, the glamour and romance of harvest life!
Anyway, the Chardonnay from Ingle Vineyard started coming in today. A very acceptable 21.5 to 22 degres Brix with pH's in the 3.2-3.3 range, and some fabulous flavours and aromas -- lemon, melon, a bit of green apple and some grass.  Should make a couple of excellent single vineyard wines, or possible a Reserve wine, in the coming months and years.  Once again, tonnage is an issue.  The vines on the west side of Canandaigua Lake didn't necessarily like last winter too much.  Last year was also a bumper crop from these vines, and yields tend to be cyclical -- abundant one year, not as much the next.  The weather conditions the previous year during the period when these vines were setting buds for this year also plays a part.  
The last few days saw us moving a lot of juice off lees in the Cellar to prepare them for fermentation.  We also spent quite a bit of time inoculating some juices that were ready to go and managing some fermentations that were already started.  The Ingle Vineyard Pinot Noir is pretty much done fermenting and is undergoing a bit of a longer maceration to extract some extra flavour and aromas.  Wonderful berry fruit and rose petals or aromas of violets are coming through on the nose.  We will likely press it out early next week.

Time Posted: Oct 10, 2014 at 6:30 PM
Bernard Cannac
 
December 23, 2013 | Bernard Cannac

The Culmination of Harvest and a Hot Holiday Recipe

The 2013 harvest is over, after we picked the Riesling Icewine on the third week of November at Ingle Vineyard on a cool site overlooking the west side of Canandaigua Lake. Yes, it got that cold before Thanksgiving! The 2013 whites are either done with the alcoholic fermentation or finishing it slowly. A cool fermentation for white wines helps preserve the aromas from the varietal and also from the fermentation itself. A cool temperature means a long and slow fermentation.
icewine harvest at Ingle Vineyard Heron Hill icewine harvest team Heron Hill Riesling arctic clone (Scenes from harvesting Riesling for icewine)

The reds need a higher temperature during the alcoholic fermentation to help the extraction of tannins from the skin and seeds. The alcoholic fermentation is therefore much quicker, a matter of days to a week. The rest of the time spent on the skin is called post-fermentation maceration. The red wines have been pressed off the skin and are now going through the secondary fermentation, or Malo-lactic fermentation: malo-lactic bacteria transform the sharp malic acid (found in apples) into the softer lactic acid (found in yogurt). This makes the red wines softer and rounder. Our white wines do not go through Malo-lactic fermentation in order to preserve their natural acidity.

For me, Christmas is a family holiday, in contrast with the New Year celebration which is more of a “friends get-together.” It has been a tradition for my wife and I to spend Christmas Eve with her cousins on Long Island for the “Feast of the Seven Fishes.” You might have guessed it: they are on the Italian side of the Family. As the name suggests, all the dishes are seafood based: shrimp cocktail, baked clams, broiled lobster tails, clams in a white wine sauce over pasta…and lots of desserts!

Heron Hill Holiday Dessert wine
(Heron Hill Vidal Blanc 2011: Gold medal Finger Lakes International Wine Comp.; 90 points Wine & Spirits)

Interestingly enough, we bring the wines: Heron Hill Muscat is a favorite, along with the Semi-Dry Riesling and Ingle Vineyard Riesling. For the red wine drinkers, Heron Hill Cabernet Franc is always a hit, and I might add our Blaufränkisch or Baco Noir Reserve this year along with Eclipse Red 2010. And for dessert, I better not forget Heron Hill Late Harvest! It is a very versatile wine and pairs with many different desserts, as long as the dessert is not overly sweet. An interesting dessert to pair the Heron Hill Late Harvest Vidal Blanc with is a Ricotta cheese filled crêpe flambée. I believe I have shared a flambée Shrimp recipe in the past: you are going to think I am a pyromaniac…well, it surely makes a good show!

Crêpes Flambées with Ricotta cheese filling

For Crêpes:
¾ cup flour

1 cup milk

3 eggs

¼ cup vegetable oil

¼ tsp salt

1 Tbsp sugar

¼ tsp Vanilla extract

For Filling:
400g Ricotta cheese

4-5 Tbsp confectionated sugar

1 ½ tsp lemon zest

1/3 cup orange juice

¼ tsp Vanilla extract

For Flambée:
1/3  cup of either whiskey, dark Rum, aged Brandy, Cointreau,
or Grand Marnier (for a “Crêpe Suzette” approach).


TO PREPARE:

First, blend all the ingredients for the crêpe batter together, then store in the refrigerator for about three hours. This gives you plenty of time to make the filling, which should be made before cooking the crêpes. Just blend all the ingredients together. I chose Ricotta cheese for its creaminess and its lighter taste. To get closer to a Crêpe Suzette, you would replace the Ricotta cheese with half a stick of butter and use orange zest instead of lemon. I like the combination here because I do not want a dominant lemon or orange flavor, but a diversity of aromas. A good substitute for sugar would be honey, and it would actually work even better with the wine!

Using a flat bottom non-stick frying pan (the best is of course the “crêpe-pan), oil well the bottom of the pan. Once the pan is hot, pour a small ladle of batter and swirl the pan so the batter makes a thin and even layer on the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 45 seconds to a min, then flip the crêpe and cook for another 45 seconds, until brown bubbles appear. Place the crêpe on a dish. Repeat with the rest of the batter.

Place about 1-2 Tbsp of the filling in the center of each crêpe. Fold it in half, then in half again to make it look like a wedge or a quarter of a circle.

Place the crêpes in a big heat resistant pan. In a small saucepan warm up the liquor of your choice, then pour over the crêpes in the heat resistant pan, and CAREFULLY light the alcohol with a long match.

Place in a dish, serve and enjoy with a glass of Heron Hill Late Harvest Vidal Blanc! Happy Holidays!

Time Posted: Dec 23, 2013 at 10:20 AM
John Ingle
 
October 21, 2013 | John Ingle

Mid Harvest Report

October is always a crazy busy month, except for last year.  By the first week of October in 2012 we were done - finished - with the harvest. An early spring - dry, hot summer and smallish crop led to a two to three week early harvest.  It was bizarre - but good. 2013 is almost the opposite. A late spring, cool damp summer and a large crop has made us two to three weeks behind schedule.  Actually, mid-October, we've just started. We brought in 22 degrees Brix Pinot Noir early this week and are now almost done with the Chardonnay.
 

Heron Hill Harvest Crew Heron Hill Crush Zeb Bernard
(Some of the Heron Hill Harvest Crew on the press pad; Zeb & Bernard with crushed Pinot Noir)

The damp summer led to many mildew problems. I have talked to growers who had to spray 15 to 20 times for assorted diseases. The average is 6 to 10 times so there was a lot of mildew pressure.  Ingle Vineyard, under the supervision of Vineyard Manager Kyle Franzoni and assistant Zeb Archer, has managed to bring a large crop of ultra-ripe, super clean grapes to the press deck. The Heron Hill vineyard, managed by Don Riesenberger, is also looking awesome. Brix (sugar) levels are over 20 degrees and up to 22 degrees. This will bring bold, tasty wines with great depth and character.   

Last weekend we shared the harvest duties with sweepstakes winner Jaime Murphy, and her husband James. Not only were they a delight to work with but they really pulled their weight in the vineyard, keeping up with the well-seasoned crew we have. It was a gorgeous day in the Finger Lakes and hand-picking beautiful Pinot Noir, enjoying a vineyard picnic of all organic, home-grown fruits and vegetables, followed by supervising the activities on the press deck at the winery made for a very memorable day for all.  Thanks to everyone who helped put this great Heron Hill experience together: Elke, Erin, Kate, Bernard, and especially Sales Director Eric Frarey who came up with this great idea.

 Heron Hill Sweepstakes winners lunch at Tasting Room at Bristol Heron Hill sweepstakes winners certificates
(Sweepstakes winners having lunch in the vineyard; Sweepstakes winners receive certificates from owner John Ingle and sales director Eric Frarey after a successful day.)

As we watch for the rest of the harvest to occur we are full of exuberance and pride as the fruits of our labor promise great things in the bottle!

John Ingle with Sweepstakes winners
(John Ingle with Sweepstakes winners at Ingle Vineyard)
 

Time Posted: Oct 21, 2013 at 7:00 AM
John Ingle
 
September 16, 2013 | John Ingle

Is it a Riesling Year or a Pinot Noir Year?

The 2013 harvest is imminent. Some early varieties such as the seedless, are already ripe and others are progressing nicely with Brix (sugar) levels at 16-18 degrees: the goal is to get to 22 degrees, that would make well balanced wines. They say grapes ripen about 1 degree per week so the next four to six weeks are crucial.

            Many of you already know how the weather in the Finger Lakes has been this summer—it’s been cool and wet. Lots of vine growth but constant mildew pressure. Last year, 2012, was a hot and dry season with Brix levels up to 25 degrees—good for rich, full bodied wines—what I call a “Pinot Noir Year.” In contrast, as in this season, cool damp weather is perfect weather for a “Riesling Year.” Crisp acidity, steely, mineral laden, food-friendly wines also including the rising star—unoaked Chardonnay.

Heron Hill Chardonnay grapesIngle Vineyard overlooking Canandaigua Lake Merlot grapes at Ingle Vineyard

            So the stage is set, Mother Nature holds the cards, a couple of cards are “up,” but the remaining cards will tell the hand. The only different is we can’t fold, just come back next year and do it, again—it’s a vintage!

Time Posted: Sep 16, 2013 at 11:01 AM
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