Elwin’s musings: gratitude & comments on the 2018 growing season  

I often reflect in my mind how grateful I am for all those who have contributed to our growing a successful winery business so now is a good time to say thank you and to express how grateful I am for the successes we have enjoyed since establishing our vineyard in 1999, licensing our winery in 2010, and opening the ‘on-farm’ tasting room in 2013.   By buying wine from us and telling our story to others you have made it possible for us to grow our business, hire people, and give back to the community in numerous ways – helping others.  

Grape harvest this year was compressed into a five week period of time so between picking grapes, crushing and destemming, wine making, the tasting room, the Fort Ligonier Craft Festival, and the North Atherton Farmers Market,  it has been busy and we could not have managed without a concerted team effort from all the staff at HVVW.   They have made the harvest season a real joy this year.

I cannot tell you how many times we have been asked about the possible impact the rain has had on the quality of our grapes this year.   I hope I can capture the season in a few sentences.   I have been a grape grower for more than eighteen years so I am familiar with our cultivars, the weather patterns, our site, and my growing style.   I knew very early in the season that the growing season would be a wet one so we groomed the vines so they would shed some of the excess rain water.  The vineyard is oriented so that we benefit from the Westerly winds – they dry water off the leaves and fruit when it stops raining.  We treated the vines for fungal diseases and insects using soft chemicals on a timely basis.   We do not expect our vines to ripen all the fruit they are capable of producing so we drop at least 30-40% of all fruit early in the season so that the vines can ripen less but produce high quality fruit within the framework of our growing season.   As a consequence of our efforts all our white grapes were harvested with excellent sugar, pH, total acidity, cultivar character, and only a few bad grapes per cluster.   Cayuga and Riesling were near perfect this year.  The red grapes were allowed to ‘hang’ on the vine for an extended period of time to reach the highest sugar concentration possible given the season which was between 18.5-19.7 brix (=sugar).    We were able to allow the reds to hang longer because they were disease free!   Chancellor, Chambourcin, Noiret, and Corot Noir grapes were excellent.  Those wines are through primary fermentation and now going through secondary fermentation (ML).   Logan Bashline and I were very excited by the fragrance, body, and deep color of all our young wines.    My answer now is that the rainy season tested our ability to grow wine but we judge the young wine to be excellent.  However, we will submit these to wine judging competitions to see how they actually compare to other wines made from   this 2018 growing season.