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.

Mike
 
May 19, 2010 | Mike "Ollie" Oliver

The Blue Heron Café is now open!

By Mike "Ollie" Oliver, Blue Heron Café Director & Wholesale Sales Representative

With the recent opening of the Blue Heron Café, I have been splitting my time between that and Wholesaling. Of course, this falls at a time when I have many scheduled ride-alongs with our distributor’s representatives.

Between interviewing perspective servers and kitchen staff, ordering food, and trying to find what is missing, life has been a bit hectic lately. Highlighting my recent activity, I executed a staff tasting for the new Café menu. Following our staff meeting at the beginning of May, I, with the help of Mr. Brian Barry, wanted to prepare all of the menu items that we will be serving at the Café. The downside to this venture was that I made way too much food, and soon discovered that the staff was full before I was able to finish making the dishes! I guess it’s a good thing that I hadn’t made desserts too…

To follow up that week, the winery hosted TasteCamp, a regional meeting that took place in the Finger Lakes including wine writer and bloggers. I prepared a vast selection of food for lunch, from the Chicken Caesar and Calabrese Wraps to Fruit and Pasta Salads. The entire staff pitched in to make the event happen, which was greatly appreciated.

May 15th marked the first official day of the Café serving lunch for the season! We were honored to host an editor from the New York Post. It took a bit of scrambling and 11th hour work, but it went off without too many hitches. Kelsey Baker returned to serve for the grand reopening, and her efforts were well received. It is definitely early to call it, but it seems like the Cuban Panini and the Caribbean Pulled Pork Sandwich will be vying for the title of most popular dishes.

In the realm of Wholesaling, I have had some very prosperous days lately. While working with Southern Wine & Spirit reps, I have been able to place wines in new stores and restaurants. On my own, I have been making some definite headway in the local market. Look for some new wines to be served at the Switzerland Inn, The Lakeside and Sarassin’s, all on Keuka Lake!

I have had the chance to pour tastings at some amazing events lately too. Savor Syracuse was a benefit for the Food Bank of Central New York which was held at the Hotel Syracuse. The Binghamton Regency hosted a Catholic Charities fundraiser. Paws and Pairings, arranged by the owner of Bottles & Corks in Corning, was a benefit for local SPCA chapters held at CMOG. Coming up in the near future, look for Heron Hill to be featured at Slow Foods of Syracuse, GCP in Horseheads, Good Spirits in Geneseo, Sonnenberg Gardens in Canandaigua, Taste of the Nation in Ithaca and Alfred University (if you are an Alumnus!).
 

Kara Smith
 
May 6, 2010 | Kara Smith

Getting ready for the busy season!

By Kara Wilson, Wedding and Events Coordinator

Say good-bye April, hello May!

Last Friday, the staff and I spent time sampling local products. We tried Onion Creek Farm‘s Wing Nuts, Finger Lakes Farmstead Cheese, Laraia’s Handmade Mozzarella, Lively Run Goat Dairy and Organic Once Again Nut Butters. What a feast we had! Everything was absolutely delicious. Mike “Ollie” Oliver, Chef at Blue Heron Café, joined us in our tasting. We are looking to combine the local products in the Café as well as sell them in the gift shop. The Lively Run Goat Dairy products were amazing. The Chevre melted in your mouth. Ollie will be using Laria’s hand-made Mozzarella in his sample dishes in the up coming week.

As we were finishing our late morning snacks, Jeff from Food, Wine & Friends showed up with several gourmet hors d’oeuvres. He made bruschetta, cucumbers with salmon, tomatoes with basil and mozzarella, and taco dip with fresh guacamole. Everything was fabulous. We devoured every last parcel while sipping on the Classic Dry Riesling.

As we were finishing our late afternoon sampling, Crystal City Party Center started assembling our summer tents. I was finally able to see what I will be working with this summer. The wedding tent is huge. It will be perfect for our Bride and Groom’s Special Day! Soon we will be scrubbing chairs, cleaning the carpet and hanging the decorations. Wedding season kicks off June 27th this year!

The terrace furniture was set-up as well. The weather invited many visitors to share a bottle of wine on the terrace this past weekend. Two more months and our summer music series will start. We have a very talented line up this year. Be sure to stop up on Sunday’s from 12:30 to 4:30 and share in our summer fun.

The Café opens May 15th. Chef Ollie has done a fantastic job on the menu. Everything he has created is scrumptious. We are excited to open the Café for our summer visitors as well.


Also, I have been working hard to re-arrange the gift shop and bring in new products. We have many new local and wine related products to offer this year. We have everything you need for gifts, dinner parties as well as specialty foods.


I know it is only May but here at Heron Hill we are in full swing for summer. Help us welcome the season by stopping up and enjoying our fine wines, delicious food and spectacular view!
 

Christina Bowe
 
April 21, 2010 | Christina Bowe

On the road in Poughkeepsie

By Christina Bowe, Wholesale Sales Manager

Well, Heron Hill has sent me on another adventure to the Hudson Valley, Poughkeepsie to be exact. This area is full of American History. Each time I visit, I learn some new interesting facts.

Poughkeepsie is about 60 miles north of NYC. It is situated on the eastern shores of the Hudson River. To get here you must cross over at the New Paltz exit off the Route 87 (which runs between NYC and Montreal). The Franklin D. Roosevelt Mid-Hudson Bridge was built in the 1930’s and was named after then Governor Roosevelt. This is the sixth largest suspension bridge in the world. I have always wanted to stop on the bridge and take pictures because it has the most amazing view. Unfortunately, my workday ran too late, and I was unable to get to the footbridge that opened last year. However, I will be making a point to do it on my next trip back. 


The Poughkeepsie Bridge (sometimes known as the Poughkeepsie Railroad Bridge, the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge, the High Bridge, or since October 3, 2009, the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park) is a steel cantilever bridge spanning the Hudson River between Poughkeepsie, New York on the east bank and Highland, New York on the west bank. Built as a double-track railroad bridge, it was completed on January 1, 1889, and went out of service on May 8, 1974. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. It was opened to the public on October 3, 2009, as a pedestrian and cyclist bridge and New York State Park. The weather was beautiful and the bridge was packed with mothers with strollers, lunch break walkers and kids riding bikes. It was awesome.

The accounts I visited today were great! I started out a Milanese Italian Restaurant. This is a family-owned restaurant, it smelled like grandma’s house. Aldo, who now runs the restaurant, was great. They will be pouring Heron Hill Semi-Sweet Riesling as a feature to see how it goes.

Our next stop was Hobnobbin Pub. Merrick and his wife Eileen were great. Pub food and a very relaxed atmosphere. It reminded me of the old television show Cheers where everyone new each other, young and old. They both liked the Dry Riesling and Chardonnay.

Babycakes, located near Vassar College, owners Susan & Jarek Wysocki were familiar with the Eclipse series. I tasted him on the whole lineup and he really liked the Eclipse White for his summer menu, as well as the Unoaked Chardonnay. You will also find the Eclipse Red on the wine menu. This funky European-style eatery offers quality, made-from-scratch food in a casual setting. We ate lunch there and it was fantastic. This is a full-service bar, and Gary mixed us up a Vinotini (1 oz vodka, 1 oz Vidal Blanc and a splash of cranberry). If you are a vodka lover, he has a wide selection of specialty vodkas, not to mention the incredible desserts. I should have eaten dessert first!

Our last stop was called CRAVE. Ed Kowalski (chef/owner) and his staff tasted thru the wines and found a spot for the Unoaked Chardonnay on their list. The menu was a “foodies” dream. The ambiance was quaint and tastefully decorated. I enjoyed my visit and the staff was amazing.

So as you see, my travels have brought me to yet another jewel in our beautiful state, full of history, excellent restaurants and more importantly, fabulous people. Thank you Poughkeepsie, you will be seeing me soon! 

Bernard Cannac
 
April 14, 2010 | Bernard Cannac

What wines at Heron Hill Winery are vegan?

Upon my previous blog about stabilizing the wines prior to bottling, another aspect of preparing a wine for bottling has emerged: what about fining agents used in wine? The fining agents dictate if a wine can be considered vegan or not. Fining agents are used for clarification and stabilization of the wine, but also to smooth out the mouthfeel if necessary, or fix the color on a prematurely oxidized wine. So, technically, bentonite is a fining agent. Remember, we use bentonite to react with proteins and make the wine “heat stable”. Bentonite is a clay of volcanic origin, and is discarded after it settles down to the bottom of the tank.

Tannins are part of a class of compounds called polyphenols. Depending on the growing conditions of a particular vintage, the phenols can vary in quantity and variety. For example, an unripe grape will have very harsh and aggressive tannins which will not age well, or grapes affected by mildew or sour rot will have undesirable compounds in the juice. The remedy is fining. Some tannins also come from the aging in a oak barrel. Sometimes these tannins can be too harsh and fining agents are used to eliminate the undesirable tannins, making the wine taste smoother and less aggressive on the palate.

Fining agents can have different origins: bentonite is a volcanic clay, casein comes from milk, gelatin from animal’s bones or sturgeon’s bladder, albumin from eggs (in the past some fining products were made out of albumin extracted from animal’s blood, but it has been outlawed). Others are synthetic, like PVPP (or PolyVinylPolyPyrolidone. I know it makes me look smart when I drop this word, but since I don’t use this compound, I don’t have many occasions to mention it!).

My understanding is that the use of fining agent of animal origin has made some people feeling uneasy. I’m a meat eater myself, but know that the use of these agents in wine would render it non-vegan. All of the white wines at Heron Hill Winery are treated with bentonite, the volcanic clay. The red wines don’t need to be treated since the barrel aging tends to stabilize them. Pinot Gris is a varietal used in the Eclipse White blend. The Pinot Gris portion is actually treated before the fermentation even starts with a mix of bentonite and casein, to prevent any “pinking” from this varietal. Pinot Blanc is white, Pinot Noir is red, and Pinot Gris (“grey” in French) is in between. Sometimes the fresh juice from Pinot Gris can have a pinkish hue, which can be a problem if it has to be part of a white wine blend. The other wines we treat with this mix are all the Late Harvest and Icewines because they are made from grapes that can be botrytised (“Noble Rot”).

I don’t know if it makes a difference, but I must point out that all these compounds end up at the bottom of the tank after they reacted with the wine. They form big molecules that become too heavy to stay in suspension and drop down. That is why casein, gelatin, and albumin based fining agents are always used in conjunction with bentonite. Bentonite (reacts with proteins) will take care of any excess of protein based fining agent by attaching itself to it and dropping to the bottom of the tank.

So, to clarify for our vegan friends, all of our wines are vegan except for the Eclipse White, Icewine and Late Harvests. If you have any questions, just comment below and I’ll be sure to follow up!

Time Posted: Apr 14, 2010 at 11:11 AM
John Ingle
 
April 8, 2010 | John Ingle

8,000 vines to be planted this spring

By John Ingle, Owner/Grapegrower

Here I go, I’m doing it again – somebody stop me. For almost forty years I’ve had a passion to plant things, especially grapevines. It was 1971 when I first noticed this proclivity. My wife, Joey, and I were recent college grads and were picking up a few bucks helping our neighbor harvest his grapes. We fell in love with the whole experience and cleared some twenty acres of land in preparation to plant grapevines. It was like jumping out of a window without looking. We weren’t farmers and the learning curve was steep. Since then we’ve ripped out vineyards and replanted them – over and over. We’ve also had large gardens every year since our 1971 start. I just love to plant, love to grow, love to harvest. So, this year we are planning a new plantation of vines at Heron Hill on Keuka Lake.

I’ve had some of the oldest vines in the East planted in 1968 but old age and bad weather led to the demise of some 7-8 acres. The last two years we’ve been plowing and preparing the soil and this May in will go over 8,000 vines. The project will include Riesling, Muscat and Vidal varieties in several different clones. There also will be two acres, one each of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon at our Canandaigua Vineyard. It will be a big job but we’re very excited about the wines that will be produced at Heron Hill. At least this time I have some 40 years of farming experience to help me with my “growing” pains!
 

Tambi Schweizer
 
March 31, 2010 | Tambi Schweizer

What's been going on locally

By Tambi Schweizer, Tasting Hall Manager

It’s getting to be that time of the year…with the oncoming arrival of tons and tons of people! YEAH! I love having visitors at the winery, especially after a long winter with barely anyone coming to visit me! (hint…hint…!)

I think what I really find intriguing is trying to “figure out” what style and or type of wine the tasters enjoy. It is a fascination of mine to understand why certain people like different types of wines. I really enjoy spending time educating the visitor about what this area has to offer. I spend countless hours educating my tasting hall staff to be able to provide them with the best information on our wines as well as the what the Finger Lakes Region has to offer.

I also pride myself on having been to almost all the local Finger Lakes wineries, neighborhood restaurants and local pubs! I frequently recommend the local brewery up the street, Keuka Brewing Company, for the non-wine drinker in the crowd. They usually have about five beers on tap at any given time, from the lightest (my favorite) the White Cap Wheat, a Belgian style wheat beer made from a blend of wheat and barley, with light hops. They add orange peel and a touch of coriander to give this beer a light, refreshing flavor. Their darkest, the Full Sail Stout Ale, a blended beer with 5 malts, has hints of smoke, coffee and chocolate that has a beautiful, rich flavor and a creamy head.

I tend to encourage visitors to enjoy dinner in the local restaurants that pride themselves on serving Finger Lakes wines, especially any from the Heron Hill collection! One of my favorite restaurants (that carries Heron Hill wines) is the Village Tavern in Hammondsport. It is a European style bar and restaurant, offering an exceptionally warm and cozy atmosphere with award-winning food and beverages…another hint!!! Their specialties include a large selection of my favorites like fresh fish and seafood. I think my favorite appetizer there is the Escargot that is sautéed in garlic, wine and herbs. They also have the most extensive and tantalizing wine list in the Finger Lakes!

Recently I was able to head over to Seneca Lake to pick up a set of horseshoes that I won at a local charity event that was hosted by Hazlitt Vineyards benefiting under-privileged children in Schuyler County whose parents/guardians weren’t able to give them any holiday presents. I love going to the Seneca Santa benefit; they always offer great wine and excellent music and the bonus is that it is almost always on my birthday!

Since I was already on the East side of Seneca Lake, I stopped into the new distillery, Finger Lakes Distilling. It is a breathtaking building with a great view of Seneca Lake. I was so amazed when I walked in to the building; the ceiling is painted a magnificent crimson red with a canoe hanging from it. They carried a great line-up of products; I even bought a t-shirt, koozie and the Maplejack Liqueur. The liquor starts out as an apple brandy made from New York apples. It is aged in a bourbon barrel and sweetened with local maple syrup. I was thinking about putting it on my pancakes!

I really pride myself on the local experience, immersing myself in many local activities or places that are very popular for the locals. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was at the Corning Museum of Glass for their 2300º monthly series. Named for the temperature of their glassblowing demonstrations, these FREE public events feature glassblowing demos, live music and plenty of food with different themes each month. The March theme was “The day after St. Patrick’s Day” with the Town Pants (one of my favorite bands). They totally rocked the house!!! While there I drank the Pinot Noir Reserve from McGregor Winery (east side of Keuka Lake), great job John McGregor!

So, if you plan on visiting the Finger Lakes regions and don’t really know where to begin, stop into Heron Hill Winery and spend some time at the tasting bar with me. I’m more than willing to give you any advice on where to go, what to do and where to stay! Feel free to e-mail me or call me as I am out there are willing to tell you as much as I possibly know. I am a HUGE promoter of the Finger Lakes Region and want everyone to visit the most beautiful (wine) region in the entire world!!!

Mike
 
March 17, 2010 | Mike "Ollie" Oliver

Learning wholesale and working with the Switz on Keuka

By Mike "Ollie" Oliver, Wholesale Sales Representative

Highlights from the world of Wholesale Sales: As the newest members of the Wholesale staff, I have had the opportunity to meet a wide variety of personalities. I thought I would take this chance to share some of the more memorable moments from the road.


First and foremost, it’s important for you to know that I have had no sales experience of this type before joining the Heron Hill Winery team. I have learned, the hard way, that there are unwritten rules and procedures to meeting with Wine and Liquor store owners. For example, if you walk into a store and the owner or manager is meeting with another Sales Rep, you have to wait for them to finish. This, apparently, applies even if you have made an appointment! I walked into a particular store and saw this unfolding. I was about to go back outside and wait, when the owner asked if she could help me I introduced myself and was about to explain my intentions, to which she responded, “Well, you can just go outside and wait until we are done!” This was not exactly the warmest greeting that I have received, but after the other rep left, I went in and the owner had a totally different attitude.

Last week, I was in Scotia working with one of our distributor’s Sales Reps. After four mind-numbing hours of driving and a miscommunication with the navigation system, I was able to find the store where I was to meet with the rep. I parked, noticed that I was right on time, and called the rep to see if he was already in the store. He responded with, “At the store? We aren’t meeting until tomorrow!” He dubbed my response as “dead silence”, but let me dwell on it for a moment. Then, he let me off the hook by saying, “Yeah, I’m inside. I just had to start the day off right!” After meeting him, I realized that this was par for the course with him; watching him interact with his customers was comical at times!


I have also had the highly productive visits that ensure that I can continue to come to work. After being introduced by our distributor’s Sales Rep to a store owner and pouring samples for him, he proceeded to order in 9 different wines! As it turned out, he hasn’t been open for very long, but he is slowly trying to build a New York State wine selection. I have learned that this job is all about timing.


Several weeks ago, Paul Wilson, retail manager at Heron Hill winery, and I met with Brianne, the manager of the Switzerland Inn on Keuka Lake. She had approached us about doing a wine and food pairing dinner. She showed us menus that they have used in the past. Suffice it to say that I was very impressed; in general, six courses that showed some real ingenuity and forward thinking! We will be meeting with the Chef soon to start looking at the menu for the event. If he is open to it, I may even offer to take a course or two! Keep an eye out for tickets; they will only be seating 40 for this event. More information will be available soon. 

Kara Smith
 
March 3, 2010 | Kara Smith

My trip to San Diego

By Kara Wilson, Wedding and Events Coordinator

Six more months until our wedding?! Wow. Time sure does fly. Everything is almost done, however, I keep forgetting about buying the wedding bands. You would think that would be the first thing to come to mind.

Anyways, about two weeks ago I was in San Diego. My finance and I had an amazing time. We ate tons of food; Chinese, Mexican, fresh fruit and so much more. We visited Lego Land, several beaches, Old Town San Diego and a few wineries. My favorite part of the trip was our first day there. We went to a town called La Jolla. The town created a man made breaker on one of the beaches so kids could swim and not get pummeled by the waves. The concept was a great idea, but the seals had an even better idea. They have made the beach their home. They spend all day and night playing in the calm water, laying on the rocks soaking up the rays and stinking up the beach. As cute as the seals are, they are by far the worst smelling creatures EVER.

We visited several wineries in Temecula and Escondido. Orfila Vineyards in Escondido had the most amazing view and good wine. In Temecula, I found Wiens Family Cellars to be very hospitable. Our taster poured me their best wines and educated me on their area and grape growing techniques. What amazing upcoming areas. The scenery is to die for.

Now it is time to settle in. Things have been super busy in the wine shop. The February End of Vintage sale was a huge hit. I am currently working on revamping the gift shop with new wine related items and local keepsakes. If anyone knows of any interesting wine products or a local vendor that we may like to carry, have them contact me, events@heronhill.com

Wedding season is almost here. We have a lot of weddings booked for this summer. Again, it is going to be another busy year for us.

Thanks to Heron Hill team for helping me get acclimated with my new surroundings! 

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!
 

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