The 2010 Vintage could be great one for Paso Robles. The cooler summer day and nighttime temperatures have allowed for slower ripening, which generally improves quality. While the grapes had it good, it was a bit of a different story for the growers (and we don’t know the end of the story yet), but those who properly managed their vineyards could be rewarded with some fantastic quality fruit.
All of these things mean great things for First Crush customers. There will be plenty of plump, juicy fruit hanging on the vine making for easy picking and the custom wine that we make for you should be superb. Here’s a look at this year’s crop and a preview of some of vineyard selections….
2010 Vintage Overview
While the unseasonably cool summer in Paso was generally good for grape quality if properly managed, there are some pros and cons for both the grapes and the grower. The chilly, damp summer mornings and evenings created some fairly heavy powdery mildew pressure early on, but in vineyards where the growers were aggressive with preventive maintenance, the crop did not suffer. The much-needed rainfall created a bit of a challenge for vineyard floor management which also required aggressive maintenance. The cool weather also led to decreased shatter and inhibited shoot growth, while increasing fruit load.
Introducing Paso Robles Wine 101 with First Crush at the Meritage Tasting LoungeSaturdays - 11 a.m. - Noon Paso Robles is emerging as one of the premiere wine destinations in California. Paso Robles Wine 101 is a wonderful introduction to Paso Robles wine country, its wines, and how to taste them. Learn about terroir and tasting from First Crush owners, Lowell and Becky Zelinski. The one-hour presentation gives guests an overview of how terrior influences wine taste and explores how wine is made. It will also teach them how to evaluate wines and taste several of the great wines that Paso Robles has to offer. Each week First Crush will feature a Meritage winery and special selections from their wine list. The featured winery for the September 4th Seminar is CrossLynn and TKL. The wineries' owner, Kevin Lynn will be talking about biodynamic viticulture practices, CrossLynn and TKL's winemaking styles, and presenting this week's tasting selections: TKL Grenache Rose 2008, CrossLynn Chardonnay 2006, TKL Mourvedre 2007, and CrossLynn Zinfandel 2007. Register here, call (805) 434-2772 or just come by Saturday at 11:00 a.m. Space is limited and advanced reservations are encouraged. $30/per person. SPECIAL OFFER: Register at firstcrushwinemaking.com and get $5 Off! Use the coupon code: 5DLROFF when registering.
This is a highly complex question, fraught with countless "it depends on" considerations. That said, viticulturists generally do want long growing seasons. Long ripening allows components in the grape other than sugar- tannin, for example to reach greater physiological maturity. Fully developed grapes, of course, hold more promise for fully developed flavors and aromas. Historically, perfectly ripe (but not overripe) grapes with long "hang times" have often produced superior wines that age gracefully.
Source: The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil
Excerpt from the SLO City News, Sunday, August 12-18, 2010:
Becky Zelinski and her husband, Lowell, share wine grape growing, harvesting and winemaking information with their customers in the best possible way, right in the vineyards and winery, through their First Crush winemaking experience. Q: First Crush is a great way to make some wine country memories beyond the tasting room, let’s start with your memories of the first harvest you worked. How did it all unfold?
A: Having lived and worked in viticulture for several years, my husband and I finally got the bug to make our own wine. We picked enough fruit from a customer’s vineyard to make one barrel of wine (or so we thought). We took it home and crushed, fermented and pressed it. We quickly discovered that making garage wine is not only challenging and probably impossible for most people – but it’s also expensive making small lots of wine. We evenhad the luxury of being able to call all of our winemaker friends in the area and ask questions, borrow supplies, etc. My husband jokes that our first wine probably cost us about $100/bottle to make!Nonetheless – we had a blast. The entire winemaking process is fun and interesting, but the best part is picking the fruit in the vineyard. Fall is my favorite time of year and I think the most beautiful season in wine country. I’m a photographer so I photographed the entire process, then turned my photos into a slideshow that I shared with family and friends via email. We started receiving numerous replies from people begging for the opportunity for this type of the experience. This is how First Crush was born....
by Becky Zelinski
There’s much ado about a late harvest around Paso these days. It has been a relatively cool summer, which has most growers and winemakers watching, waiting and wondering how this year will turn out. Many people are even pontificating how we’ll still be picking grapes while passing the turkey.
While there may be a hint of truth to that turkey tale, we here at First Crush have a more pragmatic view of what lies in store. First Crush viticulturist, Lowell Zelinski, Ph.D. took the proverbial vine by the cluster. He’s been scouting the vineyards, collecting veraison information and comparing it to last year.
“Overall, I don’t think we’re too far behind where we were last year,” Zelinski said. “My information shows that many vineyards are at 80-90% of where they were last year and I even have some that are slightly ahead.”
However, Zelinski added that some are behind, which leads him to believe that there’s more than just something in the weather influencing grape ripening.
In the third week of August, Zelinski’s data shows that Syrah – in the Templeton Hills Vineyard (aka Victor Hugo Winery) in the Templeton Gap region – is at 90% veraison compared to 80% last year. In the same vineyard, the Petite Syrah is also ahead by 10%, the Cabernet Sauvignon is the same, but the Zinfandel is slightly behind.
A little further to the north just off of Highway 46 East at the Mitchella Vineyard, Syrah is at 60% where it was at 75% veraison last year but the Cabernet Sauvignon is at 70% where it was only at 60% last year. Ironically (or confusingly), this is generally a much warmer spot in Paso Robles, and yes, we have the temperature sensors and the weather data to prove it.
To further complicate matters, in the Oak Shadow Vineyard (a little further to the east of Mitchella), the Cabernet Sauvignon is way ahead of last year at 90% (2010) to 70% (2009). However, the Cabernet Franc at Oak Shadow is only at 10% veraison where it was at 50% last year and the Merlot is the same as last year at 50%.
Are you beginning to see a (weather) pattern here? Well, we do not. It appears that the varietal has more to do with the ripening stage than the weather or location.
And for those of you who are still reading and really interested…according to Dr. Zelinski, it appears that it’s the number of days from bud break, not the number of degree days* that affects the ripening rate.
So will the 2010 vintage be delayed? Only time and the fruit will really tell. However, for now it looks as though some varieties may be harvested a little later than last year but the turkey tale is really much ado about nothing.
(*Degree days are a measure of how much heat has accumulated for the growth of the plant. Zelinski said there’s a difference in vegetative versus fruit growth, and it appears that the vegetative growth is more influenced by degree days than the fruit. In other words…if it’s cold, you may have shorter shoots but the fruit ripens at the same rate.)
Savor specially paired first-class wine and cuisine among the Paso Robles vines. Pick up tidbits of wine knowledge from our featured winemakers. Enjoy exceptional views of the vineyards during your evening of culinary adventure and learning.
September 24, Winemaker Dinner at Croad VineyardsChef, James Hauser & Sous-Chef, Steve IsaacCroad Vineyards is nestled in the Templeton Gap district of Paso Robles. Their Mission style tasting room and vineyard estate offers spectacular views of the westside Paso Robles vineyards. The estate vineyards are planted in the famous calcareous soil of the Westside Paso Robles and catch the plentiful sun by day and are cooled by the ocean breezes in the evening. This incredible microclimate combined with the optimal terra produces exceptional fruit, which enables winemaker Martin Croad, a New Zealand native, to produce perfectly balanced Zinfandel and Rhone blends characteristic of this beautiful area.
Eating anything sweet will disguise the bitterness momentarily but then the harshness will kick back in with a vengeance after the sweet flavor disappears. Eating acidic food will make the wine worse, since acidity and bitterness reinforce each other. The only substance that can improve strongly tannic wine is diary. Milk’s fat and protein can effectively camouflage the bitterness and make the tannins taste softer. So, pairing strongly tannic wine with cheese will taste better.
From the 1940s through the 1970s, virtually every basic biology text book – and certainly every wine book – perpetuated the myth that taste buds were grouped in the mouth according to specialty. Correspondingly, the tongue was diagramed into separate areas where certain tastes were registered: sweetness at the tip, sourness on the sides, and bitterness at the back of the mouth.
In the 1980s and 1990s, however, research at Yale University, Monell Chemical Senses Center, in Philadelphia, and the University of Connecticut, as well as elsewhere, demonstrated that the tongue map explanation of how we taste was, in fact, false. As it turns out, the map was a misinterpretation and mistranslation of research conducted in Germany.
Today, leading taste researchers, such as Dr. Linda Bartoshuk of the Tale University School of Medicine, believe that taste buds are not specialized and are not grouped according to specialty. According to Bartoshuk’s research, sweetness, saltiness, bitterness, and sourness can be tasted everywhere in the mouth.
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Winery/Office: 2975 Limestone WayPaso Robles, CA 93446
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