Monday, August 15, 2011

2011 Harvest Update

We are just beginning to see some colored berries in our 5-acre block of Mourvèdre here at Edward Sellers, which means the onset of berry ripening (véraison) is finally commencing. From a winegrower’s perspective, that means harvest is within sight.

If we agree that organisms big and small are concerned with propagating their species, then for a grapevine the period up until now has been about protecting its grapes until the seeds are mature enough for dispersal by birds and other animals. This helps explain the production of astringent compounds known as tannins, as well as the synthesis of tartaric and malic acid. Foragers rarely return to hard green berries that pull all the saliva from their mouths.

During veraison the grapes will grow and soften as they accumulate sugar and begin to synthesize the color pigments known as anthocyanins (for red varietals) and volatile aroma compounds (for white varietals). Tannin and malic acid levels will decline. Simply, the grapes are becoming more attractive and more palatable.

The cool 2011 season has kept our focus on vine balance. In a normal year for high quality grapes we ask each vine to hang roughly four pounds of fruit. But 2011 is not a normal year. In April, two consecutive days of frost severely reduced the number of Grenache clusters we could expect, and the low temperature has continued through the summer thanks to a trough on the coast that just won’t go away.

We’re spending many hours in the vineyard looking closely at each vine’s strength and its ability to ripen fruit before autumn rains arrive, and we’re articulating our farming based on our observations. As usual, we’ve made a green pass, dropping fruit from weak shoots, but this year we have been more aggressive. We’ll make another pass at about 75% veraison, dropping clusters that have not colored up. This year we’re also doing a bit of origami, cutting some shoulders and tips of those clusters that are too big and heavy.

Come cool weather or warm, our vines should be in fine shape at harvest to deliver grapes with plenty of stuffing and poise.

Jeremy Weintraub, Winemaker

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New Winemaker - Jeremy Weintraub

If you have visited the Tasting Room lately, you may have noticed a flurry of activity in the winery. This is not just some cellar rat, this is Jeremy Weintraub, our new Winemaker.

Jeremy joined us at Edward Sellers in early June and has gone through every barrel and walked every row in the vineyard preparing him and us for our upcoming bottling and a very interesting 2011 harvest. (More from Jeremy on that later!)

Jeremy grew up on Long Island, New York drinking mostly French wine with his family. In the summer before he left to study at the University of Edinburgh, Jeremy took a job giving tours at Lenz Winery on Long Island. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Clark University, Jeremy worked at a think tank in Washington, D.C. He then moved to New York, where he wrote articles for a number of magazines. As he approached his 30th birthday Jeremy quit writing and listened to his heart, and began interning at wineries and vineyards on Long Island.

In 2002, Jeremy moved to Davis, CA and earned his Master’s Degree in Viticulture and Enology from UC Davis, where his awards included the American Society of Enology & Viticulture Scholarship and the Wine Spectator Scholarship. He followed his academics with stages on the North and South Island of New Zealand and at Italy’s famous Tenuta Tignanello Estate.

On return from Italy, Jeremy became assistant winemaker at Tantara Winery in Santa Maria, CA. In 2006 he became winemaker at Shadow Canyon Cellar in Paso Robles, where he started his appreciation for the Paso Robles, AVA and Rhône varietals. Since 2008 Jeremy has been the winemaker at the highly acclaimed boutique winery in St. Helena named Seavey Vineyards. At Seavey, Jeremy was responsible for the winemaking decisions from vineyard to bottle, with assistance from consultant Philippe Melka. While at Seavey, Jeremy has received luminous accolades from Robert Parker and the Wine Spectator.

Our goal at Edward Sellers is to continue the tradition of making some of the finest Rhône wines in California and we are proud to have attracted a winemaker of Jeremy’s caliber. His winemaking style captures the essence of our past while infusing new energy into our future.