It seems hard to believe at times, but this year marks our 7th harvest for Tessier Winery! Lucky #7 caught us a bit by surprise as it began about a week earlier than last year. Unexpectedly warm days in January and February woke the dormant grape vines prematurely. A cool spring followed during flowering and early grape development, which affected the fruit set and created shatter. That’s when the grapevine flowers aren’t successfully pollinated, halting them from developing into berries. Shatter was observed in all of our varietals this year: Pinot Noir, Grenache, and Cabernet Franc.
Once harvest got underway, the grapes came fast and furious, offering low yields but exceptional quality. We finished bottling the 2014 wines before the fruit arrived, just in the nick of time. Bottling was completed on August 20, and 75% of our grapes came in the beginning of September.
First to the party was the Morelli Lane Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley on September 1st. Since we moved our production to Healdsburg, we eliminated the need to drive to the vineyard for a night pick this year! Just one of the perks of being in wine country, this allowed Kristie more energy to focus on all the nuances of winemaking. As for the the crop, it came in light, with tiny clusters, the smallest we have ever seen.
Next up was El Dorado Grenache on September 3rd. We decided to up our quantity this year, due to its popularity. In fact, several more restaurant are promoting it by the glass, like Cafe Rouge and Out The Door in SF. Ron Mansfield, our favorite Grenache grower, did not have enough grapes in our usual Fenaughty Vineyard. He put forth extra effort to fulfill our request by picking from two other vineyards. Did we mention how great he is?
The next day, September 4th, our Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir from Saveria Vineyards was due. After a night pick, the fruit set out by truck at 11:30am. However, thanks to Labor Day weekend and many slow spots on the road, it didn't arrive in Healdsburg until 5:30pm. Despite the crazy traffic, the driver Nick was still in high spirits when he finally arrived at the winery. He even jumped in and helped sort the fruit! Again, the yield was low but the quality very high.
The following week, Kristie headed to the Alegria Vineyard in Russian River Valley to check on the Cabernet Franc with growers Bill and Betsy Nachbaur. While Cabernet Franc is a new varietal to our portfolio, the Alegria Vineyard Syrah was a favorite with Lost Canyon Winery fans. Kristie was pleased to renew this relationship under her own brand. The Cabernet Franc was picked on September 11th and looked great, some shatter, but lovely clusters. The use of some whole clusters will preserve fruitiness, while aging in neutral French oak will achieve a Loire-styled Cabernet Franc.
By September 24th, we were finished pressing and barreling down the wines, including another delightful Femme Fatale! Enjoy some photos from the harvest. More good things to come for Tessier!