Press and news that features Ravines Wine Cellars
If you have visited our Keuka Lake tasting room recently, you might have noticed some activity on the slopes behind the building. We cleared the slope and have planted over 6,000 Riesling and Chardonnay vines on 5.5 acres overlooking the lake.
Our vineyard team used GPS and laser technology to plant the vines precisely in line to allow for optimal maintenance.
The steep slope will allow maximum sunlight to reach the approximately 4,000 Riesling vines and over 2,000 Chardonnay vines. The clones that were planted are Riesling 198 and Chardonnay Colmar and 95.
According to Winemaker Morten Hallgren, the trellis posts and wires will be installed within the next month; plastic growth tubes were placed around the vines over the past couple of weeks. The tubes help train the vines to grow straight and also protect from animals which might try to eat the new growth.
It will be several years before any grapes from this new vineyard find their way into our bottles, but visitors are always welcomed to stop by to see how the vines are progressing and taste through our delicious wines.
This week, winemaker Morten Hallgren disgorged more Sparkling Brut — almost a decade after it was bottled.
Disgorging is the process whereby the yeasts in each bottle are removed. In the classic method used by Ravines, the bottles have been riddled to get the yeast and other sediments into the bottles' necks; once the riddling process is complete, the necks are frozen and the plugs of ice containing the lees are removed (this is the actual disgorging process).
Once the bottles have been disgorged, a small amount of sugar is added to the wine before a cork is placed in each bottle. This process is called dosage, and is done to balance out the acidity of the wine rather than to add any sweetness.
The time between when a sparkling wine is bottled and when it is disgorged is called time en tirage. The longer a wine is en tirage, the finer the bubbles and foam will be, and the wine will develop more of the brioche taste and aroma that people associate with a brut sparkling. If a wine is disgorged early, it will be fruitier, with larger bubbles. (Morten likens these bubbles to those found in soda.)
The wine that was disgorged today has been en tirage for almost 8 years, having been bottled in May of 2007.
Over the past few weeks, the Finger Lakes have received several feet of snow and been subjected to blasts of arctic air. While this makes for slippery roads and slow going for people, our vines are snug under their snowy blankets.
The snow insulates the roots from the icy winds and actually keeps them warm, which should prevent any damage to the rootstock that might kill the vines.
The photo above is of several rows in our White Springs vineyard in Geneva. If you stop into our Seneca Lake tasting room, these vines are to your left as you come down the driveway off Pre-Emption Road. The tasting room is open every day from 10:00am to 5:00pm; come visit us and taste a selection of warming wines like our 2013 Cabernet Franc.
This year's harvest is done.
The last Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes came in from the vineyard yesterday, officially ending the 2014 harvest. The important work for the next month is now in the cellar. Winemaker/Oenologist Morten Hallgren is happy with this vintage. He said today, “I think people will be surprised by the quality of this vintage, despite the rainy summer. We enjoyed a warm Indian Summer in September that provided some beautiful late-season ripening.”
Check back in with us for more updates as we follow the grapes from the 2014 harvest on their journey from the vine to your glass!
Harvest 2014 is almost over at Ravines. Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are the last two grapes to be brought in, and we already have several stainless steel vats of each fermenting at Geneva.
After the grapes are crushed, the combination of juice, seeds, and skins is called must. The must is placed into fermentation tanks for anywhere from several days to several months, depending on the type of grape and the type of wine being made. Leaving the juice in contact with the skins helps extract extra flavors and aromas that are not necessarily present in the juice alone.
For example, Ravines' Pinot Noir is left on the skins for three weeks. The solids will naturally float to the top of the tanks, so we use two methods of mixing everything back up again: punching down and pumping over.
Pumping over involves pumping the liquid at the bottom onto and over the solids floating at the top. The grapes in the photo above have already received their first pumpovers.
Punching down involves pushing the skins back into the liquid. This can be done mechanically or by hand; we manually punch down our Pinot Noir twice a day. Manual punch down is more time-consuming, but is also gentler and gives us more control. In the glass, this gentle handwork translates into more delicate aromatics and layered, nuanced flavors.
These Cabernet grapes are used in making our Meritage. Our 2011 Meritage is newly released and is now available for tasting and purchase. This wine is an elegant Bordeaux-style blend featuring Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with soft tannins and beautiful aromas of plum, cherry, French oak, and cloves.
Check back here for more updates as the grapes from harvest continue their journey toward becoming the wine in your glass!
Today we'd like to give you a peek behind the scenes at Ravines.
We have three interns working with us this year. Guillaume Kieffer comes to us from Alsace and brings with him experience in cool-climate winemaking, and Ken Berard and Jordan Imm are both enrolled in the viticulture and winemaking programs at Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC). All three are getting a lot of hands-on experience (which means they get to do the dirty work).
Darrin Scott is our assistant winemaker, and he joined Ravines from Pennsylvania wine country earlier this year. He spent this morning filtering lees by racking the wine (moving the wine from one barrel to another using gravity rather than a pump).
Morten Hallgren, Ravines' owner and winemaker, likely needs no introduction. Today he checked on the fermenting Riesling in our Geneva winemaking facility.
In future posts, we'll continue to introduce you to the team responsible for creating and selling you our wines.
Today at Ravines, we started moving pressed juice into barrels.
Riesling from the Argetsinger vineyard was moved into 10-year-old oak barrels. Using older barrels imparts as little oak aroma to the wine as possible while still allowing for aging and fermentation. Ravines has been using older oak barrels for our Argetsinger Riesling since 2010.
Winemaker Morten Hallgren says that the juice from the Argetsinger grapes will remain in barrels for around 6 months, or until sometime in April 2015. It will remain on the lees the entire time it is in the barrels. (Lees are yeast deposits left over from fermentation.) This aging on the lees, a process known as sur lie in French, allows the wine to accept all the aromas and flavor possible.
Morten said that the Riesling from the Argetsinger vineyard came in with a very low pH and approximately 9g/liter of acidity. This is likely due to the nature of Sam Argetsinger's vineyard, which is located in Hector on the southeastern side of Seneca Lake. This vineyard lies on a steep slope, allowing for good drainage; the Riesling vines are at the top of the hill. Seneca Lake's shape at that spot points the vineyard slightly north. The soil is Howard gravel over limestone bedrock, which accounts for the distinct minerality of the wines from this site. Sam's Riesling vines are among the oldest in the Finger Lakes.
Later today, Chardonnay from our 16 Falls vineyard in Lodi, NY will also be moved into barrels; the Chardonnay from our White Springs vineyard in Geneva will be moved into barrels tomorrow.
The Riesling harvest continues tomorrow at White Springs. Yesterday, 20 tons of beautiful Riesling grapes were brought in from the vineyard.
Check back here later in the week for more updates!
Today the Ravines team harvested Chardonnay at the White Springs vineyard in Geneva, NY.
Winemaker Morten Hallgren doesn't base his harvest schedule on numbers, as some other winemakers do. (For example, some winemakers will look at brix, which is the amount of sugars in the juice.) Morten makes his decisions on when to harvest based on several criteria, including the weather forecast and an overall impression of the fruit. For Chardonnay, he looks for a translucent quality to the grapes and whether the foliage has begun to change color.
Morten commented that this year's fruit looks "beautiful" and that the quality of this year's harvest is "above average"; he thinks the 2014 vintage is in the "top 20 percent" of all time.
The Ravines 2014 Chardonnay will be a blend of grapes. Most of the wine will be White Springs grapes, and some will be from the 16 Falls vineyard in Lodi, NY.
We're also harvesting grapes for the next vintage of our Keuka Village White blend. Keuka Village White is a fruity blend of Cayuga White and Vignoles; the Vignoles was harvested at White Springs last week.
Next to be harvested: Merlot and Gerwurztraminer.
Check back later for more posts from the 2014 harvest!
In our previous blog posting, we showed you some pictures and video from this morning's Pinot Noir harvest at the White Springs vineyard in Geneva, NY. Here are a few more images...
This year's fruit is beautifully clean and ripe. Since the grapes were hand-harvested, the grapes remained intact and we didn't lose any juice. There are four rows of Pinot Noir grapes in our Geneva vineyard - each row is over a half-mile long - and there were a lot of these bins with the fruit ready to be pressed.
After the grapes are crushed, the juice and skins are placed in large metal bins for three weeks. This contact between juice and skins allows us to extract all the flavors and aromas you have come to expect from Ravines Pinot Noir. Here, assistant winemaker Darrin Scott punches down the skins that have floated to the top of the juice. These grapes are from the 16 Falls vineyard in Lodi, NY.
Winemaker Morten Hallgren is thrilled with the quality of the 2014 Pinot Noir grapes. “Low yields in the vineyard insure perfect ripeness every year. It’s always a struggle to keep the fruit clean because of the disease pressure in the Finger Lakes, but if you work hard in the vineyard, you are rewarded with beautiful fruit.”
Stay tuned for more Harvest 2014 updates!
Well before 7:30am, vineyard crews were in our White Springs vineyard in Geneva harvesting Pinot Noir. Approximately 20 crew members hand-cut each cluster of grapes and gently placed them into plastic bins that will then be picked up and brought to the winemaking facility.
Pinot Noir from our 16 Falls vineyard near Lodi was delivered last week, as were Pinot Noir grapes from Sam Argetsinger's vineyard near Hector.
Hand picking is more expensive and time-consuming, but it's worth the extra effort because the grapes remain intact. Keeping the grapes pristine as long as possible keeps the juice from leaking out prematurely; gentle whole-cluster pressing in the membrane press is also critical to keeping the astringent quality of Ravines' Pinot Noir that you have come to know.
Once all the grapes are harvested, our vineyard manager Doug and his assistant Patrick pick up the bins and deliver them to the production facility:
Stay tuned for more Harvest 2014 updates throughout the next few weeks!