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.

Christina Bowe
 
February 18, 2010 | Christina Bowe

Ticonderoga, New York - Who Knew!

By Christina Bowe, Wholesale Sales Manager

Last Spring, I had the pleasure of going to the Northeast area of New York. The village is charming and the town is full of history, which all residents are very proud to boast about. My trip introduced me to a newly built Best Western on the outskirts of town on Burgoyne Road. This beautifully maintained hotel is a jewel. The Burgoyne Grill within the hotel adds something special that you don’t usually find within a hotel.

I met one of the owners, Denise Ward along with her staff. The restaurant guests had been asking for NY wines, our Unoaked Chardonnay, Semi-Dry Riesling and Cabernet Franc are on their list as the featured NY wines. At that time, we talked about the possibility of doing a wine dinner. I was excited when I got the call in the Fall. At that time, I met with Chef Bob Jennings and staff. They had never tackled a wine dinner, but we all put our heads together and had an amazing event.

The Friday night sold out, the Chef and his staff recreated the magic for Saturday evening as well. Chef went to work to put together a 4-course meal paired with four Heron Hill wines. The first course was an amazing squash soup paired with 2007 Heron Hill Semi-Dry Riesling. The next course was a scallop salad with caramelized onions, this was served with the 2008 Heron Hill Unoaked Chardonnay. These perfectly paired dishes were received very well by the guests. The third course was a piece of art and unfortunately, there is not a picture to do it justice. It was a twice-baked potato, fresh carrots with a delicate sweetness and a perfectly grilled filet dressed with homemade herbal butter with parmesan chips perched atop the butter. The pairing of 2006 Heron Hill Cabernet Franc, complimented the main course. The homemade apple pie with melted Vermont cheddar cheese with a chocolate truffle was served with 2007 Late Harvest Vidal Blanc.

Chef Jennings pulled out all the stops, and if you are ever in the area it is a must visit stop. Specials are offered every night and I had the most delicious hamburger I have ever had. I want to thank particularly Kourtney Kraft for her attention to detail, which made the night run smoothly. I travel and attend many wine dinners, and I have to say this dinner was in the Top 5. Thanks to all at the Best Western and the Burgoyne Grill in Ticonderoga!

The Montcalm Liquor Store in town was the site for a Saturday tasting. The Manager, Nancy, brought in some amazing snacks and I tasted the wines from the dinner the previous night. Several of the guests from the previous night’s dinner were there too. This is a great store, friendly customers and a true interest in New York Wines.

At the tasting, most of the locals where giving me information about their famous Fort Ticonderoga. I was intrigued at what they told me, so I thought I would do some research and add it to my blog. Fort Ticonderoga, originally Fort Carillon, was built by the French military between 1755 and 1759. The Fort is at a point where Lake Champlain narrows and the shore of Vermont is a cannon shot away. At this point, the water from Lake George enters Lake Champlain through the La Chute River. In 1776, a fleet of small warships and gondolas were rigged and fitted out at Mount Independence. This fleet under the command of Benedict Arnold fought the battle of Valcour Island. In 1977, British General Burgoyne managed to place a cannon on Mount Defiance and forced the Fort’s garrison to evacuate. The British finally abandoned the Fort in early November following the surrender of the British army in Saratoga. In 1820, William Ferris Pell purchased the ruins to preserve it for posterity. In 1840 he converted his summer home into a hotel to serve the tourist traveling the Lake by steamer to visit the Fort ruins. In 1908, the next generation opened the Fort to the public with President Taft in attendance. Unfortunately, the Fort was closed for the season, but I thought it was noteworthy to talk about. You can find out more information at www.fort-ticonderoga.org. The grounds are beautiful with weddings and business events, as well as war reenactments happening in the open season. On March 10, 2010, there is going to be a story on the Sci-Fi channel on the Ghost Hunters documentary. Apparently, there are some ghostly occurrences happening at the Fort. Ticonderoga also has a ferry that you can take across Lake Champlain to Vermont! It is, of course, closed for the season right now.

Ticonderoga is another amazing town in our State that proves to be yet another great place to visit in New York State. I can’t wait until my travels bring me close to the town, hopefully in the Summer when all the attractions are open. 

Bernard Cannac
 
February 10, 2010 | Bernard Cannac

What happens after fermentation

By Bernard Cannac, Winemaker

After all the excitement of harvest and the fermentations, I enjoy the quiet months of winter. By now, the 2009 reds are aging in barrels and the older vintages are maturing. The 2009 whites have to be prepared before being bottled in the spring and summer.




Like Brian explained in his January 15th blog, the white wines have to be treated with bentonite in order to be protein stable or heat stable. After the fermentation, the wine contains a lot of proteins, some of them coming from the yeasts’ cells. But too many proteins would lead the wine to turn cloudy if it was to be exposed to some heat. If you leave a bottle of white wine, or Rosé or Blush sitting in a car for hours in the summertime, the wine might turn cloudy or hazy. Under heat, proteins tend to form a haze. To prevent this to happen, bentonite is added to the wine. It will attach itself to the proteins in suspension in the wine. The result is a heavy molecule, which will drop down to the bottom of the tank due to its weight. The wines are racked after about one to two weeks after the bentonite addition in order to give it enough time to settle down to the bottom of the tank. Then, we just have to pump the clear wine and discard the sediments left at the bottom of the tank. A gross filtration will take care of any molecules that still might be in suspension.

The other stabilization we have to look after is called cold stability. If you have stored a white, Rosé or Blush wine in the refrigerator to chill it, you might notice that some white or sometimes pink crystals have formed in the bottom of the bottle. No, it is not sugar or sand, and it is not dangerous. If you were to drink some with your wine, the only inconvenience would be that it has a grainy texture and it would feel weird in your palate. One of the most important acids present in grape juice is tartaric acid. Grape juice also naturally contains potassium. When these two compounds react together, they form a crystal called potassium tartrate. This reaction happens faster at colder temperatures. That is why a wine that has not been properly stabilized will produce these crystals when being refrigerated. To avoid this happening in the bottle, we actually make the reaction happen in the tank. There are two ways to induce this: we can chill the tank down to about 28 degrees Fahrenheight and wait for about three weeks or we can add some cream of tartar to the chilled wine. We choose the latter because the stabilization happens faster, in a matter of days instead of weeks. The cream of tartar method is also called “seeding” because the small crystals of cream of tartar induce the formation of tartrates around each “seed” of tartar. When the crystal becomes heavy enough, it drops down to the bottom of the tank. Again, we rack and filter the clear wine and discard the sediments. The red wines get stable after their aging in the barrels, and they should not be chilled, so we do not have to heat and cold stabilize them. Moreover, consumers are more forgiving when they notice sediments in a bottle of red wine.

At this time of the year, we also are busy pruning the vineyard and doing some labeling before getting into bottling some 2007 and 2008 reds and the 2009 whites. I hope it wasn’t too technical and that it answered a couple of questions you might have had. Cheers!
 

John Ingle
 
February 3, 2010 | John Ingle

My 38th year in a row pruning grapevines

By John Ingle, Owner/Grapegrower

I could blog about the assorted sources of stress in the “idyllic” life of a winery owner. Or I could rant about the hassles, hurdles and roadblocks encountered in dealing with government, laws and politics when trying to provide alcohol to the masses. Instead I’m returning to my roots and talking about grapevines.

I love being in the vineyard, it’s always different and always the same. There is a cyclical process that occurs over a year’s time and for grapevines, it’s call a “vintage”. Each vintage is different with the type of weather and growing season Mother Nature deals and it’s the same in that the recurring tasks and procedures required to yield the best grapes are quite similar each year.

It is now late January and for the 38th year in a row, I am in the vineyard pruning grapevines. People ask what do you do in the winter as a winery owner? Go to Vegas? Au Contraire, it’s the balmy breezes of negative digit wind chill readings that greet me each morning or I stand bundled up like an Eskimo to whack away at some 150+ grapevines a day.

Each year a vine will produce long canes, 2 to 6 feet, with buds or internodes along each cane, up to 200 buds per vine. If these canes aren’t cut back, the vine will over produce and shut down. The 150 buds must be cut back to 20-50 buds to “balance” the vine’s leaf surface with the crop load. You can get a bigger than normal crop one year but you probably won’t the next year.

Pruning 1 acre, about 600+ vines a week means I have twenty weeks to hand prune my vines myself, take out weekends, holidays, white outs or freezing weather and I’m busy from December 1st to April 1st. I’m tired just thinking about it. But I do love it, each vine, creating the “balance”. I feel like an artist.

I recently answered some questions from Lenn Thompson of the New York Cork Report, a blog devoted to New York Wines. Here’s a link to his online article: Q&A with John Ingle, Owner of Heron Hill Winery. 

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