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This is an important and extremely aromatic time for us in caves. The wines have long since finished primary fermentation and we then keep several lots in tank for an extended maceration period. We then move the wine from tank to barrel and use a basket press at the very end to extract all the wine from the grape must. The grape must (pomace) that is leftover in the basket press is then take to be composted and later reapplied on the soils of our vineyard. It’s full circle and it’s part of what makes our wines excel year after year.
This is just a quick update on the progress in the cellar as our winemaker Alan keeps busy after the harvest. We hope you had a chance to see our recent blog posts this season on how the 2013 harvest went and also on a few fabulous recipes and wine pairings. We look forward to seeing you soon and hope you’re stocking up on Viader wines for the upcoming holiday season.
Exciting happenings at VIADER as we continue with our night harvesting schedule. Our 2013 harvest officially began two weeks ago on the evening of Monday, September 9th when we brought in a small block of our Syrah. Delia and I were just returning from dinner with some old friends on Spring Mountain. As we approached the winery, we could see in the distance what looked like fireflies in the vineyards under a thin crescent moon. Our harvest crew was wearing headlamps as they skillfully moved in between the vines, quickly picking only the best clusters into their small bins.We have several reasons for picking at night. Predominantly, colder temperatures help protect the fruit at harvest, slowing natural yeast and inhibiting any bacteria growth while preserving the fresh fruit flavors and acids in the grapes. Night temperatures on Howell Mountain and around Napa Valley can drop into the 50′s or 40′s even on summer days when we experience highs in the 90′s.
Within a couple hours of the nighttime harvest, the cold fruit is processed (destemmed and “crushed”) at the winery and then moves to the fermentation tanks where it is again cooled down to 40 degrees. This allows Alan, our second generation winemaker, to to do as long of a “cold soak” as possible and extract more color and distinct flavors from the cold skins. Read more about the cold soak philosophy in these article from Wines & Vines or Wine Spectator.
Secondly, both Delia and Alan have found that our harvest crew works easier in the cooler weather because they are more comfortable. We have less worry or issues with heat illness or dehydration when we avoid picking during the high temperatures that can plague a typical summer day on our fully exposed steep hillside.
Moreover, we discovered that night harvesting also allows us to be more efficient with the daytime schedule at the winery, since we can work on the wines in tank first thing in the morning. Alan Viader shares, “With night harvesting, the fruit comes in early morning (finishing at 3-4am typically) and then we arrive at 6am to crush the fruit before the sun peaks over the top of the mountain while its still cold. That then gives us all day to work the wines in tank.” He prefers this to having to wait for the fruit until late morning or afternoon and then working the wines in tank until late into the evening.Cheers to the 2013 vintage and to a Happy Harvest!
It’s another exciting week in the vineyard, as we move closer to harvest. We continue our legacy of organic farming, which involves many sustainable practices that help our fruit flourish. One specific vineyard practice includes a unique effort to naturally control any predatory pests in order to maintain a balanced ecological system on the property, which Alan takes great pride in. In this light, he incorporates some amazing strategies, one of which occurred this week: the release of these tiny wasps that control pests by “flying around and laying their eggs into the belly of the host,” says Alan.
These very tiny wasps target the small pest known as vine mealybug to safely and naturally prevent this pest from causing detriment to the vines.
Close to 10,000 of these little beneficiary wasps are released per season. The adult wasps generally live about 2-3 days flying around laying hundreds of eggs in their lifetime. They arrive in small vials and are dispersed by our crew in the vineyard. How do they find their prey? “They fly around and are attracted to the pheromones from the females,” Alan says.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach: IPM is a pest management strategy useful for any farming system especially for organic growers.
It’s just another week in the life of an organic winery, with Alan Viader at the helm. Please keep in touch with us to learn more about news at the vineyard and our various product releases and specials. Coming up to harvest is the busiest and most exciting time at our vineyard. We’d love to have you come for a visit and feel free to ask questions below.
Delia had a whirlwind trip to London earlier this month, stopping to pour at a wine dinner at Ransome’s Dock on the first night where she served as the Vintner Lead among the other Napa Valley Vintners, such as Shafer Vineyards. This was the most successful and interesting dinner on the trip, where she was delighted to pour a vertical from the 2002, 2005, and 2008 vintages of VIADER Proprietary Red Blend. Special guest and renowned author Jancis Robinson was so impressed with the presentation of the 2002 she made a beeline for Delia after the dinner for another taste!
The next day, Delia was off to The Jugged Hair for a winemaker lunch hosted by Graham Holter, Publisher & Founder of The Wine Merchant. The crowd very much enjoyed tasting the Viader wines and the food was scrumptious.
And if that weren’t enough hosting and socializing (all while experiencing jet lag), later that evening, Delia poured one more time for the crowds at Theatre of Wine, a small wine retailer owned by Daniel Ilsley in Tufnell Park London. The response by the British community was astounding and the discussions about American vs. French Oak were fascinating. A globetrotter for most of her life, and fluent in six languages, Delia feels right at home in Europe. It was a wildly successful visit.
Please share the post with your wine friends and be sure to pay Viader a visit next time you’re in the area. We’d love to show you around the winery and vineyards.
This past weekend on June 15, 2013, we were 2,000 feet above the Napa Valley at Summit Lake Vineyards & Winery (2000 Summit Lake Dr Angwin, CA) on Howell Mountain to celebrate the wonderful Napa Valley Grapegrowers and their guest bidders from their annual fundraiser STOMP, which occurs later this summer. The special mountainside property really came alive for an evening under the stars in perfect weather. It was quite a family affair for us, with Janet pouring an array of Viader wines, from the velvety soft 2011 DARE Cabernet Franc to the mighty Magnum of 2008 VIADER Proprietary Red Blend (Comprised of 69% Cabernet Sauvignon & 31% Cabernet Franc).
Other family members playing a key role this evening included our amazing Mariela Viader, who catered the farm-to-table dinner for almost 200 guests as hubbie Alan manned the BBQ. He spent over 24 hours roasting two 60-pound pigs and another 60 pounds of various pork shoulders to pair with the different Napa Valley wines and side dishes. Mariela prepared a plate of roasted seasonal vegetables, a wonderful heirloom tomato salad and homemade cornbread. The meal was remarkable and as the sun disappeared behind the mountains, guests helped themselves to roast-your-own marshmallow campfire s’mores while others danced salsa under a disco ball. We enjoy being involved in community events such as this, sharing great food and wine from our family to yours! Thanks to the Napa Valley Grapegrowersfor organizing such an amazing evening.
Please take a look at our photos to get a glimpse of the festivities!