2020 Looking Ahead

I write this while looking out my window at crystal clear, blue skies with puffy clouds. Hardly a hint of humidity and summer haze. Wisconsin resort weather has moved in for a few days just to tease us hearty Midwesterners. We know it won’t last. The 2020 vintage got off to a rocky start this year with a hard freeze on April 26 when most of the vines had tender shoots about 2-4 inches in length. They all turned brown and fell off. The vines put out another round of shoots, only some crops like our Merlot and Tempranillo will have 40-50% lower yield than last year. Our Estate Cabernet Sauvignon will be a delayed harvest but about the same yield as last year – sixty to seventy gallons.
The lower humidity and nighttime low temperatures of our weather bonus this week will help drive sugar and acid development in the grapes to good levels. Every year our vineyard crew learns and grows better grapes as the roots of the plant reach another foot deeper into the soil. We have learned that the rules for growing grapes in California must be modified before you try to apply them in Oklahoma. And once the grapes are in the crusher-destemmer, the rules for winemaking are different too. We are constantly learning and improving.
We have a new addition to the equipment family this year adding a four-hectoliter pneumatic press. What the heck is a “hectoliter”? It is 100 liters or about 25 gallons. The press uses air instead of our water-powered bladder press. It is three times the capacity of our bladder press which means more efficient use of staff and better wine quality because everything gets pressed and chilled sooner.
Our entire 2020 estate rosé production will be made from Tempranillo instead of Chambourcin. Tempranillo won, hands down, in the June, rosé evaluations. We are planning to take our 2020 rosé to San Francisco for gold in 2021. With our new kegs, we will begin to experiment with some naturally carbonated bubbly wines called “pet nat.” Keep watching this column for future developments.
干杯 “Ganbei” – A Chinese drinking toast common throughout most Asian countries. The word literally means “dry glass”, so be ready to finish you glass after you toast. It the glass is empty, pour another round of really good, locally-grown wine.

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