There's never a dull moment in the life of a vintner. Our yearly harvests follow a perpetual guessing game of whether the right amount of rainfall and supplemental irrigation will nourish our vines at just the right time to yield the perfect grapes for an exceptional vintage. This delicate balance sometimes feels like walking a tightrope while simultaneously gazing into a crystal ball. But now, the 2017 harvest season in St. Helena is within sight, and the view looks spectacular. Our grapes have experienced quite a season this year, and now they're in the maturing process of veraison.
What is Veraison?
It marks the beginning of the final stage in the maturing process for grapes -- when the berries begin to change color and start to soften.
Veraison is the culmination of these stages:
Stage 1 begins at bud break in spring and goes to bloom time, before the fruit forms on the vine. The vines' water needs are relatively low during this stage, depending in large part on the stored soil moisture from winter rains. We had so much rain this past winter (after droughts in recent years) that the Napa River reached flood levels. This resulted in a higher water table than we've had in a while, which increased the soil's stored moisture levels, facilitated vine turgor, and beautifully set the stage for healthy vegetative growth.
Stage 2 begins when the grape flowers fade, and the fruit forms. It's a period of rapid growth when the grapes are firm and green. The organic acids are high, and the sugar content is low.
Stage 3 is a bit of a lag phase, as grape growth slows down and the acid level reaches its maximum concentration. Too much irrigation during this stage can stress our vines, so our viticulturists must monitor watering needs precisely.
Stage 4 is the final stage -- from veraison to harvest. During this stage, viticulturists and vintners can sense a palpable and growing excitement. Our grapes begin to lose their acidic content as the sugar concentrations accumulate. As the grapes begin to soften, they also change color. By taking advantage of our location atop Spring Mountain, I designed and constructed our winery as a gravity-flow facility. As soon as we harvest our grapes, the gravity-directed process needs minimal intervention to process the fruit gently. The result is a superior juice because of the reduced tannic acid levels.
2017 Sherwin Family Vineyards Wine Forecast
With our grapes transitioning from veraison to harvest our grapes are poised to make 2017 one of our best years!
If you have any questions about the wine making process at our St Helena winery or would like to visit our tasting rooms please contact us at Sherwin Family Vineyards.
Auction Napa Valley, the world's leading charity wine event, is just days away, and we're excited to participate this year. Our Sherwin 2015 Estate Cabernet is among other great, notable wines included in the barrel auction on Friday, June 2 from 11am to 3pm.
Fortunately for wine lovers who can't make the trip to Napa, part of the auction is electronic and you can bid from anywhere in the world. Pre-registration is easy, and your participation will contribute to the well-being of an entire region.
Auction Napa Valley was first conceived in 1981 by winemakers in the area as a fundraiser for health and education non-profit organizations in the county. The event supports health services for residents of all ages and educational advancement for children. To date more than $170 million has been raised to benefit 25 local nonprofits in the 36 years the auction has existed.
Since all bidding is electronic, we suggest you download the apps a bit early to be sure everything is operating properly. This year's barrel auction offers 108 lots of wine futures by the case and is on Friday, June 2, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Inglenook in Rutherford.
Step 2: Choose how you want to bid
Step 3: Review the barrel bidding rules
Step 4: Set your calendar appointment to Friday, June 2 at 11am to bid
We love the excitement of the live sale! The opportunity to taste Napa’s best wines straight from the barrels coupled with excited bidding gives bidders a shot at some of the best wines in the world. The top 10 bidders in each lot win a case of wine from that barrel (unfortunately, they don't get to keep the barrel).
In the barrel auction, the majority are Cabernets and Chardonnays as the valley's soil produces very high quality grapes of those varieties, but the various vineyards grow about three-dozen different varietals. Some barrels will be wine of purely one variety while others will be blends. The Sherwin 2015 Estate Cab is a blend of 90 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 8 percent Merlot and 2 percent Cabernet Franc in the style of wines created in the Bordeaux region of France.
In addition to the barrel auction, there will be almost 40 “Only In Your Dreams” live auction lots of collectible, rare Napa Valley wines, and almost 200 lots in a global E-Auction.
Following the auction is a celebration at Meadowood Napa Valley, featuring a meal designed by Francis Coppola and prepared by an incredible culinary staff.
If you are able, please join us – in person or via Internet for Auction Napa Valley. It's a wonderful opportunity to purchase some great wines, donate generously to a community and enjoy a fun weekend. If you are unable to attend and would like to taste our collection of wines, please contact us or call us at (707) 963-1154 to schedule a tasting room visit.
Serving wine should be a straightforward, simple affair. Just uncork and pour. However, if you ever had the misfortune of encountering a crumbly cork, you will appreciate learning to decant wine. At our St. Helena vineyard, we often decant many types of wine for various reasons.
There are two main reasons to decant a wine after opening. First, if your wine falls a little flat on the bouquet and it tastes like something is missing, it may still develop a fuller body with oxygenation. Some connoisseurs will say that it will get all the air it needs in the glass. However, it never hurts to decant a wine, even white wines, before serving. Another reason to decant is sediment. Red wines, older than five years are especially prone to sediment build up, which happens when the naturally occurring tannin bonds with the wine’s pigment. Sediment can cloud your wine and add undesirable bitter notes to the bouquet. Sediment becomes more pronounced in older and heavier red wines. It may not always be visible when inspecting an unopened bottle.
Wines are oftentimes decanted ahead of time to allow them to open their full body. It is worth noting, though, that this is not particularly advisable for fragile wines that may fade too quickly or are prone to oxidization. These sensitive wines should not be decanted more than 30 minutes before drinking or should just be poured straight from the bottle.
At our St Helena vineyard, we begin the decanting process 24 hours ahead of time by standing the bottle upright. This gives any sediment plenty of time to accumulate at the bottom. Also using a short candle or another light source to backlight the pour will make it much easier to see any sediment. Pour the wine steadily, not too quickly, until you reach the last few ounces. As soon as you notice flakes of sediment in the stream, stop pouring and discard the remainder. Be sure to pour with a sure hand and avoid agitating the wine or it may become cloudy. Decanting wine is a highly recommended practice. If you are looking for new wines to add to your collection, visit Sherwin Family Vineyards today. Call us to schedule an appointment at (707) 963-1154.
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