It is a beautiful sunny day in the Finger Lakes today. Although it has not felt like spring yet, it is just around the corner...officially it is just 10 days away! I love this time of year when I can see everything begin to wake-up, blossom, and our much anticipated wedding season begins!
All the planning I have been doing with our brides & grooms is finally coming to life. After a long winter of planning, choosing the right vendors, and organizing the key details, the brides and grooms can begin to relax and select the finishing touches for their milestone celebration.
We have some unique and very detailed-oriented weddings scheduled in 2015 and this makes my job so much fun! I love to coordinate all the decorating details with our clients and see, first hand, the transformation of the tent. Our natural backdrop really allows each wedding or event to showcase its own style and themes. From the end of May to the beginning of October, Heron Hill Winery in Hammondsport has the pleasure of executing some of the most spectacular weddings in New York.
This year we are hosting more destination weddings than ever before! It is inspiring to see brides & grooms planning a wedding and a weekend of fun-filled events for their guest right here on Keuka Lake, and throughout the Finger Lakes region.
Here are a few of my favorite wedding trends that I’m seeing for 2015:
UTILIZING SEASONAL FLOWERS
Tulips in May, peonies in June, dahlias & zinnias in July and August.
The focus is embracing what is in season in upstate New York while trying to make environmentally friendly selections, and it is truly worth it.
CREATING CASUAL & INTERACTIVE RECEPTIONS
Dinners being served “family-style” on platters, and signature cocktails served in craft mugs are a big hit. Themed grazing stations reflecting a couples' favorite flavors or travel destinations are popluar and can encourage conversation. As far as music, “what is old is new again.” Classic tunes from Sinatra and Elvis to Etta James are making a comeback on the DJ’s music lists. While we also enjoy seeing guests get to know each other through lawn games and other playful activities, sometimes with vintage-inspired accessories.
GIFTING EDIBLE FAVORS
Elaborate candy bars, homemade petit cupcakes, and scrumptious signature cookies, all to be taken home in adorable handcrafted bags. It is the last taste left in the guests’ mouths, and it makes for a wonderful memory of the evening.
Can you tell how excited I am for another wedding season to start? I know it will be a magical one!
For those in the heart of their wedding planning process, I encourage you to attend Heron Hill’s 5th Annual Wedding Show on Sunday, August 23rd from 1 to 4pm. Mingle and enjoy a glass of wine in our Genesis tent overlooking the vineyards while you meet a fantastic selection of some of the premier wedding professionals in the Finger Lakes. Pre-register here>>
Let's spring ahead!
We are very excited to announce that our Eclipse Red 2011 received 90 points from Wine Enthusiast magazine! The full review will be in the May 2015 issue. This Bordeaux-style blend aged 24 months in French oak, Eastern European oak, and American oak barrels. It's round & layered with notes of dark cherry, baking spices, and a hint of cedar. In 2016, Heron Hill Winery will be celebrating the 25th Anniversary of our signature red blend!
The 2011 Eclipse Red blend is composed of 40% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 28% Caberent Franc.
Something about chocolate, even just a bite, is so comforting to me in this cold weather. The Heron Hill team from all three locations, comes together at our Winery in Hammondsport for a monthly Monday morning meeting. Usually there's some tasty baked good served to pair with coffee, tea, and strategy. This month we all loved this Eclipse Red Wine Chocolate Cake. Eric Frarey, our COO and director of sales, and his wife created a delicious dessert recipe featuring Eclipse Red for our February Wine Club newsletter.
ECLIPSE RED WINE CHOCOLATE CAKE
Rich, moist and flavorful, this Eclipse Red Wine cake carries a unique taste and irresistible aroma. The wine makes the chocolate very fudge like with intense flavor. The Merlot in the Eclipse Red wine adds nice cherry notes. As the alcohol does not bake out fully this is the type of dessert you want to make for adults only.
1 ½ cups of all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp of baking powder
½ tsp of salt
½ tsp of ground cinnamon
1 cup of softened butter
1 ¼ cup of granulated sugar
½ cup of dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp of vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups of Eclipse Red wine
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12 cup bundt pan, set aside.
In a medium bowl sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and set aside. In a mixer bowl beat together butter and sugar on medium high for 3-4 minutes until fluffy, beat in eggs one at a time until combined.
Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl as necessary, beat in vanilla extract.On low speed, beat in or fold by hand the flour mixture in three additions, alternating it with the wine in two additions, starting and ending with the flour. Do not over mix.
Pour into bundt pan, bake 45 mins or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then turn it out to cool completely. Dust the cake with powdered sugar.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
More low-lying clouds this morning, with the heaviest bit seeming to be sitting right at the entrance to the Winery on County Rte 76, making visibility limited. The headlights of an oncoming SUV only appeared through the fog about 20 feet, making the left turn up the drive a bit more exciting than necessary. By the time I reached the lower parking lot, I was above the clouds, and the Winery sat majestically in front of me.
Lots of stuff to do today. It began with the return of some barrels we had stored off-site for awhile in order to complete the Cooling Project in the Cold Room. Most of the barrels were 2012 reds that will come out of barrels shortly, soon to be refilled with some of this year's bounty. A slow moving project what with the press pad being somewhat cluttered with the various pieces of equipment needed to process the grapes coming in.
First load in: 7.3 ton of Pinot Blanc from Jeff Morris over on the west side of Seneca Lake. Nice and clean and 21 degrees Brix. Luvly Jubbly! A bit more than originally estimated earlier in the week, so a nice surprise and may lead to a nicer surprise sometime next Summer. Wink! Wink! Prior to the first press load being finished a nice little light show started, coming from the SSW. Not much rain with it, just enough to be annoying, and a few bolts in the vicinity. The show lasted on and off right through the 2nd press load, with a few lightning strikes a little too close for comfort when you're standing around all that steel.
During late afternoon we saw the arrival of the first grapes from John and Jo's Ingle Vineyard on the west side of Canandaigua Lake. Pinot Noir showing very nicely at this stage. Clean fruit. Just wish we had a bit more of it. The brutal Winter we experienced last year had a devastating effect on many varieties throughout the Finger Lakes, with Pinot and Merlot being particularly impacted. The exceptional weather we have experienced the last few weeks has helped out nicely in the development of ripening in all varieties after a late start to the Season. When it was still in the 40s in May the outlook wasn't as cheery.
Well, almost time for a pizza and a beer, then bed!
Mark Patterson joined the Heron Hill winemaking team in May 2014. Mark will provide updates throughout Harvest 2014.
Our Harvest 2014 began on Friday, September 26, after the first day was pre-empted due to our Glycol Cooling System not being available. First in: 3.42 ton of Seyval Blanc destined for Game Bird in a few months. A soft start, really, but one that helps get a few "gremlins" out of the way.
A bit of an inauspicious beginning Friday morning, with some fog cover as I drove up the hill from Hammondsport on County Route 76. Starting just before Keuka Lake Vineyards the fog grew heavy. Visibility was limited to only a few feet. A real Pea Souper. Just as I approached the beginning of the estate vineyards at Heron Hill, there was a break in the miasma -- glorious sunshine broke through all around.
(A first day of Harvest ritual -- here's Mark wearing his utility kilt)
After some last minute set-up, the load arrived from one of our contract growers near Penn Yan and the first grapes of the Season found their way into the hopper for processing, through the crusher-destemmer, and onwards into the Press. The Press was started and the first juices began to drip into the Press pan at 21 degrees Brix! The juice was pumped into a jacketed tank for cold-settling of the bits of skin, pulp, and other detritus that we don't want in our clarified juice during fermentation and the first day of Crush was coming to a close.
As the other lads began breaking down the crusher-destemmer, hopper and lines for clean-up, it was time to tackle some Marechal Foch that had been 'hot-pressed' for us at another facility. Hot-pressing is widely used to process French-American Hybrids like Foch, DeChaunac and Baco Noir in order to tone down some of the more, let's call them, 'interesting' flavours and aromas found pre- and post-fermentation in these cultivars. About 1500 gL put to bed to settle for a few days under cooling, and it was time for this lad to toast the arrival of a new Crush with several pints of IPA and a Fish Fry!
So can someone tell me what happened to summer? It seems like we waited and waited and now it’s almost gone.
Steve & Pam had a fantastic summer visit with kids and grandkids, enjoying Seneca Lake in all its splendor.
I took a couple of trips back to Connecticut to visit my "kin" -- we shared a few bottles of delicious Heron Hill wine, along with some amazing food and lots of great laughs. At the Tasting Room on Seneca Lake, we enjoyed seeing many familiar faces and making many new friends. Since our tasting room is “Dog Friendly” we have lots of great friends that happen to have 4 feet. Here is Ryder lounging in the tasting room while "mom & dad” sample the new wine vintages and talk with Nancy.
The 2011 vintage of Eclipse Red is quickly becoming a favorite. Heron Hill's signature Bordeaux-style blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon was first bottled in 1991. The 2011 Eclipse Red was aged 24 months in French, Eastern European, and American oak barrels. For the first time in over ten years, this vintage of Eclipse Red was also bottled in 1.5L magnums. Magnums are only available to purchase in our tasting rooms at this time and are a perfect size for a dinner party! This wine pairs so well with red meat and hearty lasagna for dinner but what about Chicken with a Red Wine Cream Sauce?
Chicken with a Red Wine Cream Sauce
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon of minced garlic and 2 lbs. of chicken breasts.
Cook about 10-12 minutes on each side, until juices run clear.
Remove chicken to platter and add to skillet:
2 teaspoons smoked Paprika
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried Thyme
¾ cup of Eclipse Red Wine
Heat and stir until all ingredients are well blended. Put chicken back into heat through 8 to 10 minutes, spooning sauce over the chicken breasts from time to time.
Remove chicken to clean serving platter and add to skillet:
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of heavy cream
Wisk until smooth and thick. Pour sauce over chicken breasts and serve with fluffy rice and roasted seasonal vegetables.
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