“The warmth of your love's like the warmth of the sun
And this will be our year, took a long time to come
Don't let go of my hand, now darkness has gone
And this will be our year, took a long time to come”
This will be our Year- The Zombies, Odessey and Oracle, 1968
My fingers and toes are no longer stained purple as we seal up the last barrel of Tessier’s 10th Harvest! This year brought a bounty of surprises, and opportunities, and I can’t wait to see how these young wines develop. We brought in a record 23 tons (39 barrels), our most fruitful harvest to date! That comes out to be around 1200 cases, so we are still firmly in the small winery category.
Because of Harvest 2018’s ideal, dry weather conditions, seasonable warm days, and cool nights, we were able to enjoy extended hang times which are crucial to develop complex flavors, aromatics, and great chemistry in the fruit. We had an action packed 5 weeks of harvest, starting slow and then up to our knees in grapes towards the end. It was exciting, exhausting, a challenge to juggle, but ultimately an unbelievably rewarding harvest.
Tessier’s 10th Harvest began on August 31st, with 2 tons of plump Fenaughty Vineyard Grenache destined for the 2018 Femme Fatale Rosé. This Grenache is picked at lower Brix than the regular Grenache, so that it will have higher acidity that is needed in rosé. The grapes were briefly foot-stomped to release the phenolics before being gently pressed. I’ll add the Pinot Noir (vinified separately) prior to bottling. Femme Fatale Rosé 2018 will be released in March/April during our Spring release party.
I celebrated my birthday on September 12th, and was given the cruel gift of bronchitis! Barely healed, with a squeaky voice, we were back up and running with a chockablock schedule.
On September 17th, riper Grenache from Fenaughty Vineyard arrived from El Dorado. That was followed by more El Dorado fruit, and new addition to the line-up, Syrah with 10% Viognier. Earlier in the year, Ron Mansfield showed me some irresistible Syrah, and floral, and elegant Viognier. In the style of Northern Rhône, I processed and fermented these red and white grapes together. The Viognier amps up the color of the Syrah to an inky purple, and also adds depth and desire to the aromatics.
A week later on September 26th, we brought in Cabernet Franc from the sustainably farmed Alegría Vineyard in Russian River Valley.
The very next day, on September 27th, it was time for the Zabala Vineyard Riesling. In the wee hours of the morning, I put on my trusty driving gloves, rented a truck and drove down to Arroyo Seco. I trampled in the newly-picked Riesling right there in the vineyard (for optimal aromatics), and once at the winery, left on skins for 2 days before pressing. This will be my second vintage of the Zabala Riesling.
Later that night on the September 27th, there was still more fruit to process! Barsotti Gamay from Ron Mansfield in El Dorado came in. The Gamay is done by keeping it all whole cluster, then lady-foot-stomped and pressed when dry. Two days later, on September 29th, came the final Rhône variety from El Dorado; gorgeous Mourvèdre from the Goldbud Vineyard.
I had a week to breath, fill barrels and check fermentations, before concluding the 2018 harvest with the Pinots Noirs.
Yes, we now have two! On October 5th, I put on the driving gloves again and headed to Filigreen Farm in Anderson Valley. They produce tiny clusters of Pinot Noir from 71-year old vines. This was also kept as 100% whole cluster and lady-foot-stomped. This is our first harvest with Filigreen Farm, a certified organic AND Biodynamic vineyard.
Last but not least, the next day on October 6th, we processed the Pinot Noir from Saveria Vineyard in Santa Cruz Mountains. It made me grateful for the strong relationships that I have fostered with the growers and vineyard owners during this past decade.
A special thanks to all of the lovely ladies who helped me foot stomp, Moshin Vineyards, my vineyard partners, and you, my Tessier Fans and to the Tessier Research Club. I honestly, would not be able to grow as a winemaker, and a person without your support.