The Best Time of the Year

I grew up in southwest Missouri only a few hours northeast of our vineyards. This time of year, I love the crisp fall air, migrating birds, the beautiful nighttime skies, and the low humidity that makes you believe you can stand on a hill and see forever. Our grapes are all in and fermented now – 15 tons this year. My aging back tells me we need to get some mechanical help on the grape shoveling project, and I only helped shovel less than half the total.

While 2021 did not bring a pandemic to our grapes, it did bring disastrous weather. As in the February polar vortex (remember the one that took out the Texas power grid?) that froze 450 Tempranillo plants down to the ground. We have a pile of grape wood the size of an 18-wheeler now. This spring the vines pushed out shoots from the cut-off vine stumps above the graft union, so we still have Spanish Tempranillo. We just don’t know when it will produce a crop. Our merlot survived the February freeze and then a late freeze in April after bud break hammered the tender shoots on 100% of the vines giving us zero merlot this year. Fortunately, we have enough in tanks and barrels to get us through the year ahead. Yields on Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling were also down but not to zero.

Growing European grapes in Oklahoma is (pick one or more): 1. A fool’s errand, 2. A labor of love, 3. An exercise in hope, 4. Proof of the conquest of passion over reason, 5. A long-term demonstration of the determination of grape-growers and winemakers, 6. All of the aforementioned.

Our French-American hybrid grapes – Chambourcin, Vignoles, and Vidal Blanc, all took the weather in stride and produced great crops with better sugar and acid characteristics than I have seen in eight years. Like finished wine, grapevines also get better with age. This year we managed to get our wine tank refrigeration working, so white wines fermented at 62 degrees Fahrenheit instead of fifteen degrees warmer without refrigeration. This produced outstanding floral noses and preserved delicate flavors in all our 2021 white wines.

We added a new bottling room this year along with a new labeling machine. We have improved winemaking in dozens of little ways including reducing the amount of sulfites by using AST (Ascorbic acid/vitamin C, Sulfite, and Tannins). Any fining of the wine we do (which is minimal) now uses vegan-friendly mannoproteins from potatoes instead of shellfish, egg whites, or ingredients derived from pig joints.

Most of all, I am thankful for November. I am thankful for our veterans who serve or served this country. At the end of the month, I am thankful just to make it another year. Thankful for our harvests. Thankful for the farmers and rural communities that produce our food. Thankful for all the wonderful people we have met this year. Thankful for our houses of worship of all kinds that bring people together to give praise and glory to something bigger than themselves. I am thankful for you, our customers who come to events, to the tasting room, to bars, restaurants, and liquor stores. I am thankful that you drink responsibly and that you have supported this winery in producing the fruit of the earth from our soil right here in Oklahoma.

Thank you.


Pecan Creek Winery

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