October 24, 2012
Just recently, we finished up the bulk of this years’ harvest by bringing in the Petit Verdot from the Bobcat Run block. The Petit Verdot will be a component in the Cabernet Sauvignon blend, it tends to have an aroma best described as ‘berry pie’, which elevates the red fruit characters of the Cabernet and helps bring them to the forefront.
Petit Verdot is a late-ripening variety, even with all of the ideal weather we had this year we still had to wait until the vines were starting to go dormant for the winter before the fruit was ready to pick.
That little bit of warm weather was actually very fortunate, as it started to rain several days after the fruit was picked. We were most fortunate this year to get pretty much all of our fruit in without having to contend with any rain. This has been a truly exceptional vintage, both in terms of quantity and, more importantly, quality. We still have a lot of work to do taking care of the wines we’ve made, be sure to check back to see what we’re up to!
Amapola Creek is Richard Arrowoods’ latest winemaking project, to visit the Amapola Creek Winery main site, please click here.
May 9, 2012
Today we finished suckering the upper part of the property, including the Foxtrot Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Syrah and Grencahe in Bobcat Run. We also suckered the Petit Verdot in Bobcat Run, but this variety has to be suckered a little differently than most other varieties.
One of the next big physiological stages that the vines are going to go through is flowering. The closed flowers emerge along with the shoot during budbreak. At first they are pretty small, but flowering is likely only a few weeks away and so they are starting to swell up.
Things are moving fast for us, be sure to check back and see what’s going on!
To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main site, please click here.
January 9, 2012
Today we are putting our 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon down to barrel. We ended up with three different lots of Cab this year, each of which is going to contribute some volume to the final blend.
This has been a very unusual year, the timing of harvest coupled with the volumes of fruit we received meant that we had to organize the lots of Cabs in a slightly different way than usual. Generally we try to keep the wines from every vineyard block separate before going to barrel to maximize our flexibility at blending later on. This year, in order to keep topped tanks, it worked out that we had to do a little bit of blending beforehand. For instance, we found it convenient to crush the Petit Verdot directly to tank with the Cabernet, while in previous years we have kept it separate until the final blending. The result is three distinctive lots of Cabernet Sauvignon that, taken together, make a gorgeous example of what our estate vineyards have to offer.
The largest lot, 12 barrels that will likely form the base of the final blend, is a mixture of China Bowl, Montana Vista, and approximately 8% Petit Verdot. The second lot, 7 barrels of pure Cab, is comprised mostly of the Foxtrot block with a little bit of China Bowl blended in. The third lot, also 7 barrels, is a mixture of China Bowl, Montana Vista, and close to 20% Petit Verdot from Bobcat Run.
It’s hard to know exactly what these wines will taste like when we pump them out to prep them for bottling two years from now, so we will refrain from any further blending until then.
To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main site, please click here.
November 15, 2011
This week we are proud to announce the release of our 2009 Cuvee Alis! As you may recall, Cuvee Alis is our Rhone blend of Syrah and Grenache. 2009 was the first year we produced it, as opposed to the varietal Syrah we produced in earlier vintages. The word went out to our ‘A-list’ members yesterday (if you wish, you can sign up for the A-list here), and we’ve already received a number of orders.
October 24, 2011
We have been busy indeed here at Amapola Creek! Harvest is almost done, there is only one more block of Estate Cabernet Sauvignon left to pick (more on this block tomorrow), and then all of the grapes will be in for the year.
Last Saturday, we picked what was left of the Cabernet Sauvignon in the Montana Vista block. Since there has been a lot of dew in the mornings, we had our fruit scheduled to pick in the afternoon, so that the fruit would have a chance to dry off a little. This threatened to be a very difficult pick, because the botrytis rot had really gotten worse in the previous few days, and we knew the picking crew was going to have a rough time sorting out the good fruit.
Very fortunately, the botrytis had only advanced to the point where it appears like a thin, gray fuzz on the outside of the grapes. When it is in this early stage of growth, it is possible for the pickers to use an old trick from the vineyards of St. Emilion; they grasp each vine and shake it vigorously, and all of the rotten grapes pop off and fall to the ground!
This allowed us to greatly speed up the process of picking, we got just under five tons of clean fruit from this vineyard on Saturday, which happily was a better yield than we had expected.
After Montana Vista was done, we moved down the hill to the Petite Verdot in Bobcat Run. This block actually had very little rot in it, and so the pickers were able to move through it very quickly. We got just under three tons of Petite Verdot.
Since we’re close to the end of the season, we are getting a little bit tight on tank space. So, we took all of the fruit we picked on Saturday and crushed it into a single tank and inoculated it with K1. Today this lot is fermenting very strongly, and the berry pie character of the Petite Verdot is quite evident in the top of the tank.
Many of our fermentations are drawing to a close, be sure to check back and see what comes next!
September 23, 2011
We’re in a bit of a lull as we wait for our next load of grapes to ripen up, so we’re taking advantage by doing some last minute vineyard work on the Estate Petite Verdot. This year saw late rains in spring, so we decided not to thin our clusters out until late in the game. The risk was that rain during flowering may have caused ‘shattering’, meaning that the flowers fail to form into mature grapes. In that case, thinning while the clusters are too young may result in too little crop. Waiting until all of the clusters were set and starting to mature allowed us to see how much fruit we actually had in the field (plenty, it turns out, our Petite Verdot is generally a very productive block), which in turn allows us now to properly thin the fruit and crop the vines at the optimal level.
It is always a little heartbreaking to see fruit on the ground, but when you’re making the finest wines possible it is vital to make sure the vines are in balance. If there is too much fruit, the fruit will not ripen completely. Too little fruit, and the resulting wine will have green, vegetal characters. As Richard is fond of saying, it’s better to have 80% that’s perfect than 120% that’s mediocre.
Here’s what a well maintained, properly cropped Petite Verdot vine looks like! Note how the leaves have been thinned out around the fruit; this allows in light, which helps the fruit mature and reduces vegetal characters, and it also allows air to flow through the canopy, which helps control mildew and fungus without resorting to the use of chemical fungicides. Also note how the fruit that is left is allowed to hang with plenty of space between clusters, this is another technique for letting air and light reach the fruit.
To visit the Amapola Creek Winery main website, please click here.