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Eric Hildreth
 
March 17, 2018 | Eric Hildreth

Winter Winemaking

What do winemakers do with themselves outside of harvest? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked this question. The truth is that we keep busy with the different cycles of vineyard and cellar work. As soon as the last 2017 barrel is put down in the cellar after harvest, we start breaking out the 2016 wines to work on our blends. Both the Atelier Melka and Andis teams are very excited about the 2016 Zinfandels and Barberas that we will be bottling in April.

When I’m not crawling through stacks of barrels or working on blends, I’m walking through our Estate vineyard. A lot of exciting changes are happening this year. If you’ve visited the winery recently you would have noticed that the vines closest to the parking lot were removed. These were some of the original Zinfandel vines planted on their own roots in 1978. Unfortunately, nature had taken its course with these vines and they were starting to succumb to the pest Phylloxera. After years of declining yield, we decided to remove the vines to pave the way for something new. The team and I are very excited to be planting Cinsault (pronounced Sin-So). This varietal is prominently featured in red and rosè wines from Southern France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region.

For the few who were able to try our small lot bottling, you may be excited to hear that we will be expanding the Schioppettino (pronounced scope-a-tino) vines in our vineyard. In the coming weeks we will be grafting our Malbec block over to Schioppettino and Cabernet Sauvignon. 

The second most common question I’m asked in the tasting room this time of year is about the cold weather’s effect on the vines. In the last two weeks we’ve had freezing temperatures and even snow in Plymouth! However, this time of year the vines are dormant and totally unaffected by the cold, unlike the bundled up winemakers and vineyard managers. Luckily we finished pruning before the coldest weather hit.

In a few weeks we will start to see budbreak throughout the valley. Budbreak is when the vines wake up from their dormancy and begin to push little green shoots from their buds. This event will mark the beginning of the 2018 growing season.  To add to our excitement, 2018 will be the first year we are harvesting Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and Petite Sirah from our Estate vineyard. Stay tuned, more news to come!

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