Visitors to the winery will see a variety of this time of year. June is a very busy month for the winemaking team. The bottling line is almost always running, as we make room for another vintage coming in the fall. While we are bottling some wines, others are being prepared for bottling throughout the month.
Most of the 2011 Chardonnay lots will be racked out of barrels this month. Racking the 2011 Chardonnays will fill the winery with the sweetest fruit and oak aromas. It is the smell of a fresh new wine that is just pure nectar. The numerous Chenin Blanc lots will be blended and prepared for bottling as well.
The 2010 Cabernets and other Bordeaux varietals will be next in line and we will get a few of those lots out of barrel by the end of the month. We also need to squeeze in a day of Zinfandel bottling - at some point!
Trucks are coming and going bringing us glass, corks, capsules and labels and we are continuously shipping out truckloads of full cases right off the bottling line.
It might look like chaos at the winery right now, but it is a typical summer as we make room for the next vintage coming in September. In the lab we are starting to taste and blend the 2011 reds, which is a process that takes at least 2-3 enjoyable months of our time and taste buds. The vineyards are in full growth mode with their shoots reaching for the sun as their tendrils grab the trellis wires for stability. Knowing that our vineyards are organically farmed, you can just see and feel the harmony on Pritchard Hill. 2012 is a work in progress.
The vines look very healthy and there are lots of flower clusters on every shoot. If the mild weather pattern that we are in holds for another week or two, we should have a good fruit set which means we will have an abundant crop in 2012. After the last 4 years of challenging weather, we tend to not get too excited about a good crop until we see it.
Tasting through our current release wines, we are at a confluence of great vintages! The 2009 reds speak for themselves with lots of concentrated fruit and spice on a framework of polished tannins. The Signature Cabernet drinks well no matter when or where you have it. It is delicious to the last drop and goes with almost any meal. The Pritchard Hill Cabernet is so tasty that it is hard to describe the layers of richness and concentrated chocolaty ripe fruit that just keeps unfolding in the glass. The 2009 reds continue to impress me with their impeccable balance and perfectly ripe varietal characters. The whites wines from 2010 are another impressive bunch.
The Chenin Blanc is so delicious and effusive that one glass is just not enough. The 2010 Chardonnay is another wine for all occasions. The fruit, acid and oak are dialed in to a perfect balance with just a touch of malolactic creaminess to add complexity. To take it up a notch the 2010 Signature Chardonnay has full-blown richness and mouth filling flavor and texture. I tend to save the Signature Chardonnay for an occasion when I can take the time to savor every sip since the wine just continues to unveil its many layers over time.