At harvest time, we always expect the unexpected! This year, in spite of the heat spikes and devastating wild fires, we are extremely grateful to report that we’re anticipating a beautiful result.
The 2017 growing season progressed smoothly, until the heat spikes around Labor Day, forcing many winemakers to scurry and pick. Brix were creeping up quickly, but the flavors didn’t seem there. Harvest was in full swing, but I wasn’t having it. I held out until post labor day and waited for the heat to break. I’m glad I resisted peer pressure to pick early because I was rewarded with beautifully ripe and balanced grapes. We’ll have fresh flavors and mouth-watering acidity, just how I like it!
Thankfully, we were able to get fermentation underway before the fires, and we do not expect there to be any smoke taint or other adverse effects. Moshin winery was amazing-- they functioned with a skeleton crew, as a few staff members were evacuated from their homes. It was a very tense time and thank you to so many who provided support and compassion during this time.
It was a pleasure, once again, to work with our growers; the grapes looked amazing! This year we are pleased to add Riesling to the Tessier lineup. This is how it all went down.
Riesling, Zabala Vineyard - Arroyo Seco (New vineyard!!)
Wednesday, September 6, leather driving gloves on, and piloting a 26ft. rental truck, I arrived at dawn in Soledad, Zabala Vineyard for the Riesling pick. I was introduced to this vineyard by Ryan Stirm, fellow winemaker. I had been wanting to make another white varietal for some time and rieslings fascinate me with their terpenes and racy acidity. Terpenes are aromatic compounds that occur in the skins of the grapes. Zabala vineyard is set on an old river bed and has lots of granite and rocks in the soil. An indication of a true quality and sustainably farmed vineyard, two snails turned up in the grapes that we successfully rescued for a drunken doom. I sat in the picking bin as the golden Riesling clusters were mounting around my feet. I trampled the grapes on site to get some skin contact and release the terpenes. I pressed the Riesling the following day to stainless steel, letting the native yeast take off and then keeping the fermentation cool to preserve all the lovely aromatics- chamomile, white tea, and nectarine.
Special thanks to Luis Zabala for making me a coffee and avocado toast for the road, as I forgot the lunch I packed.
Cabernet Franc, Alegria Vineyard - Russian River Valley
I’ve worked with Bill & Betsy Nachbaur and the Alegria Vineyard since 2006. Cabernet Franc is a special grape, and I love the herbaceous characteristics along with floral- violet components that come through in the wine. I sampled the fruit the week before and it didn’t seem ready; I felt like the brix numbers couldn’t be trusted from the vineyard samples. So we scheduled the pick on September 12, which was my birthday- a first for me, as I had gotten lucky in the other 11 years of not picking on that day. The crop was light as spring set was difficult, but the flavors were there. 25% whole cluster, fermented native and slowly in ¾ ton bins doing pump overs to keep the tannin extraction to a minimum.
Pinot Noir - Saveria Vineyard - Santa Cruz Mountains
September 16, back at it again- my trusty gloves and rental truck, I hit the road in the pre-dawn hours headed for the Santa Cruz Mountains. The pick started at dawn, as the fog still hovered in the vineyard. It reminded me how beautiful the vineyard is and why I love fruit from the Santa Cruz Mountains.We picked three different clones from three unique parcels and I took a few moments to raid the luscious fig tree on the property. Later that afternoon, in Healdsburg, we sorted through the Pinot Noir clusters and did 25% whole cluster into a stainless tank. The native fermentation went smooth and cool, just like a cucumber while punch downs were done 2x day.
Special thanks to Chris at Broc Cellars for letting me borrow picking bins!
Grenache - Fenaughty and Camino Ridge Vineyards - El Dorado
September 18, Grenache with the famous clusters that were beautifully massive. 50% whole cluster into the tank to ferment natively. I have worked with this vineyard since 2011, I love the fun aromatics these grapes have while fermenting --vanilla creme soda and black cherry.
News Flash, there will be Femme Fatale Rose this year with Grenache and Pinot Noir. Yay!
Mourvedre. Goldbud Vineyard - El Dorado
September 28, Mourvedre from the Goldbud vineyard arrived being it’s bad ass, sultry, spicy self! 33% whole cluster into tank to ferment natively. These were all lady foot-stomped in the beginning and the end of fermentation, with some pump overs in the middle.
Gamay - Barsotti Vineyard - El Dorado
Finally, October 5, our last lot of 1 ton of Gamay Noir came in and we did 100% whole cluster into ¾ ton fermentation bins, which we covered with dry ice. These bins sat for a couple days and then we started with the lady foot stomps 1x per day until they really started fermenting.
Tessier brought in 18 tons, which should yield about 1000 cases. It really takes a village...thanks to all of those who worked on Tessier fruit, the ladies that foot stomped, friends who helped pour and taste the wines, friends who listened to my adventures and craziness and the ones that came with. I am really grateful for the life I live and that I am making wines that I love in Northern California.