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Grapevine flowering arrives in late spring, two months or so after bud break. Grapevine flowers are not the most dramatic or beautiful, but they do have a wonderful fragrance. Grape flowers need average daily temperatures between 59-68 degrees Fahrenheit, and it is during this stage of a grape’s lifecycle that pollination and fertilization occur. For fertilization to occur, grape flowers do not need bees for pollination. Grapevines have what is called a perfect flower, meaning they are self-pollinating flowers.
There is a window when the flowrs are in full bloom. It is at this point that they are extremely vulnerable. Any adverse climatic condition can mean losing the potential crop. Rain, wind or cold tempratures can result in shatter. The term shatter means the cluster grows without the idea tight shape, resulting in grape berries differing in size or even missing all together. While this variation does not affect the quality of the grapes, it definitely affect their quantity.
Fruit set follows bloom immediately. Fruit set is defined as the time when fertilized flowers develop into a grape. Once the fruit set is done, we start to get a good idea of our crop for the season. Right now, we are looking good.
It's that time of the year when I regularly start walking the vineyards. Our Estate vineyard has 19 blocks with 9 varietals. Inspecting the vineyard block by block, it is fascinating to see how each variety comes to life each year. This year, the vines started showing little hints of green a week or so ago with each block showing bud break at different times. Some varietals, like Grenache, are the first to bud out, but then takes its time developing. Others, like Sauvignon Blanc and Barbera, are middle of the pack but once they bud out, it is a sprint, and they are done quickly. Others, like Zinfandel, bud out later. On the Estate, we have 6 blocks of Zinfandel, and it's interesting to see the effects elevation and soil depth have on the vines. Six blocks of Zinfandel all budding out at different times!
I will continue to keep you posted on our Estate vineyard development throughout the year. We will also schedule tours so you can see for yourself what is going on in the vineyards.
-Mark Fowler, Winemaker
Old World vs. New World: Sémillon
A shadowy figure Sémillon cuts; DOES IT EVEN EXIST?! It’s a mysterious grape that knows how to blend in. And it sports disguise names—perhaps it is a spy! But reporting to whom?
No, Sémillon has an identity all its own that strikes me as a secret love child of Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc. It has that lanolin lick that gives it weight reminiscent of Chenin Blanc, and is likewise prone to botrytis, but can be herby and lemony and have striking acidity that calls to mind Sauvignon Blanc. Or is it just that it gets blended with Sauvignon Blanc, so we get confused? To add to the ball of confusion, given age, Sémillon gets those fun toasty and honeyed notes.
It has its idiosyncrasies, and yet it hides.
It takes cover behind the names Bordeaux and Sauternes . It masks itself in blends, botrytis, and oak…maybe Sémillon (also sometimes spelled without the accent over the e) WANTS to remain under the radar. Well, I’m blowing its cover. Sorry, Sémi, your time has come. Now take off your baggy wool sweater and strut your stuff.
I’m so sorry, I don’t mean to objectify it; it’s just more people should seek it out. This is my opinion, but you’re welcome to borrow it.
True, some of the most famed Sémillon-based wines are Sauternes, that lusciously sweet and ethereal nectar that gets its kick from noble rot. Those are another story. One I should write soon, probably.
But today I am looking at the dry Sémillon-based wines of the world.
Sémillon is mysterious in roots as it is in personality. It is similar to Sauvignon Blanc genetically, but they don’t seem to have a parent-child relationship. Its origins may be in Bordeaux’s Left Bank, or even the Entre-Deux-Mer, but confoundingly enough, it might be named for local pronunciation of St-Émilion, despite the fact that Semillon isn’t really cultivated there. But that is just a rumor.
I confess I likely tasted some of these far earlier than they would show best—although I’ve been told that during the first few years, they can be be great, then shut down until they are maybe 7. At least this is the lore of Hunter Valley.
Speaking of, shower wine pick? I’m going with the Andis Old Vines. Old vines because I like a wine from a vine with experience if it's gonna see me naked.
2019 Andis Wines Bill Dillian Old Vine Semillon
Andis is a perennial favorite of mine. Out of undersung Amador they also make a Barbera that makes my heartstrings go pling. But I’ll stick with the Semillon review right now. This Semillon would be a daytime robe. It is comforting, with plush apples and honey notes and the body of silk but its medium weight silk you want to wrap yourself in. But the acidity is acute, so you can get some work done while wearing it. It’s actually a robe that can translate from work-from-home robe to home dance party when the day is over and you are ready for fun robe, as it ends with flowery notes that invite you to party.
We couldn't be more proud of our team and the delicious wines we've been creating. From the likes of Jeb Dunnuck and James Suckling to Sunset Magazine the word is out that Amador County and Andis WInes are producing wines that rival the likes of Napa and Sonoma vintners.
Check out our current selection here - SHOP ANDIS WINES
It must be Spring! Just look at the bright yellow fields full of mustard blooms in the vineyard. While the weather may still seem winter-like, Mother Nature is telling us otherwise.
The Andis Vineyards have never looked so beautiful with the ground cover throughout. As mentioned in my previous blog, ground cover or cover crops can be beneficial in replacing nutrients. But what about mustard plants? While mustard plants do not return vine nutrients back to the soil, they do provide biofumigation, which suppresses various soil pathogens.
Typically mustard plants are used in vineyards to suppress nematodes, a microscopic worm that infects vine roots. Nematode infection will ultimately lead to low grape production and severe vine damage. Mustard plants produce a biofumigant called glucosinolate that deters damaging nematodes.
Later in Spring, the cover crops are turned giving beneficial mulch to the soils.
So come visit us at Andis Wines and enjoy the beautiful view of our yellow vineyards while you can!
Watch a short video of our wine maker, Mark Fowler discuss cover crops in the vineyard - COVER CROP VIDEO