Thanksgiving Traditions Old and New

Thanksgiving is an ancient concept formalized as a national holiday in the USA fairly recently. It is based on the season of growing and harvesting coming to a close. Food is abundant and the work pace is no longer frantic and frenetic.

‘Tis time to take time to give a big sigh of release and enjoy a holiday! Gather loved ones and have a feast! Then what? Stand in line at the Mall? Hang around the house and drive your sister crazy?

WE BELIEVE wine makes Food, Friend, and Family better. So bring them to visit us. We are kid, dog, bicycle, and horse friendly. We will be serving a 50-calorie Lilliputian winemaker’s dinner for Thanksgiving in Wine Country (and every day of the year), complete with hors d’oeuvres, several main courses, and desserts. And we have the perfect wine, of course, to go with each course.

Now for a little vineyard and winery news. The crush of “Crush” is finally over. The cellar is still busy with fermentation. How many yeasts are alive in the Yakima Valley today? It’s a huge, astronomical sort of number! 3.785 x 10(9) per gallon. Just in our tiny winery we have 4,000,000,000,000+ yeasts working furiously to make wine for you. Whew! The thought is exhausting.

So my focus returns to the vineyard, the source of all things vinous.

As a Winegrower rather than a Winemaker my work begins before pruning. Now that the leaves have dropped we can see clearly the structure of the vine. We can analyze the canopy from a new perspective. Did we have the right shoot density? Did the shoots/ canes reach optimal size? Do we need to modify our pruning?

The majority of vines were “in the zone.” We did no summer spraying; we had no issues with mildew. Our trellis and canopy management principles paid off with really good tasting fruit and no need for pesticides.

The biggest puzzle of this past season was: why did some vines have almost no fruit?

In the cellar we are analyzing the choices we made, starting with the date of picking: too soon, too late? Research done some years ago concluded that 2,000 decisions were made after picking, to produce a simple white wine bottled young. Each year we get new tools and technology and the choices increase! In the vineyard, before picking, 10,000 decisions are made, but that is another story.

When I started, 30 years ago, the choice of yeast type was small, maybe a dozen, now there are hundreds if not thousands.

As I sniff and taste the wine fermenting in the barrel, with each batch having four or more yeast types, each with its own character, I appreciatediversity and the richness it brings to wine and life.

As a Winegrower I live in the future. The wines fermenting now will be tasted by you for the first time in 1-5 years, when they are ready to bepart of your meal with your friends. I will be hovering over these babies for months to years before they go into bottle to conclude their aging. In this period of months to years, I make choices about blending, aging, racking, aging on lees, oak adjuncts, malolactic fermentation, etc., etc., etc.

So what is the scoop on Vintage 2012? My view is that the wines should be superb (if not, it’s my fault!). Often small crops ripen early and fast in warm weather and don’t develop the best Yakima Valley flavors (thankfully this was not the case with us).The weather for the last of the season was near perfect. Our crop wassmaller than what we were after, but the cool spring and late start meant it ripened at normal cool October time.

My observations of this neighborhood suggests this was the norm for most vineyards. So Yakima Valley 2012 on labels will be something to look forward to in the years to come.

So let’s give thanks for a good season for the farmers of the Yakima Valley. Gather some loved ones and have a feast!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and thanks for buying our wines so we can stay in business doing what we love.

Paul at Paradisos del Sol

1 Comment
  • Shannon
    Posted at 14:10h, 02 January Reply

    Nice post, Paul! I hope you are doing well – I am! The yeast question. Have you ever done wild yeast fermentation – or has that not worked well for your wines? Thanks!


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