When it comes to Red Mountain fruit, both our winemakers and grape growers alike, must show nerves of steel, tenacity, and faith in our soils. Today, while walking through the vines of the Fidelitas Estate Vineyard the truths of the harsh climate, and nearly impossible conditions have become even more evident. Stepping into August we’ve already seen brutally hot days peaking at 111° F, ceaseless winds, all without a drop of precipitation to allow relief. August will take us through version and straight into ripening with an eye on September for harvest. We walk a fine line between insanity and triumph with some of the state’s hottest years and earliest harvests setting record on these 4,040 acres.
This month I wanted to reflect and give credit where its due to our wonderful growers, industry wildcards who challenged the status quo giving possibility to this land, and gusty winemakers such as Charlie who possess the technique and talent to handle our unique region. I’d also like to share with you a few of the challenges tackled regularly on Red Mountain by our Winemaking and Viticulture Team going forward as harvest looms ahead.
Red Mountain’s dry and chalky soils are a very important part of what gives life to our wines. By regulating how much water reaches the roots we can determine the fruit set and corresponding weights and sugar content when we go to harvest. Determining how much water to give the vine is a dangerous game- too little and the vine becomes overstressed, too much and the water weight bulks up the grape diluting the flavors and sugar. Temperatures here can spike dramatically (as we saw these last two weeks), and having a team that can act quickly and decisively to calculate what that means for the vine and fruit is exceptionally important. Signs of over stressing can be seen in the canopy, which Charlie pays particular attention to throughout the growing season. On any given morning you can usually see Charlie driving through our Estate Vineyard looking at the leaves, feeling the soil moisture, and tasting the grapes. Rolling into September, the decision to harvest each lot of fruit will be primarily driven by Charlie’s taste buds- a talent developed over 31 harvests!
A special thanks is always in order to Scott Williams and Jim Holmes who have always supported and influenced the advancement of the AVA. Both of whom were kind enough to supply the fruit going into our Old Vines Merlot set to be released this fall to our club. It’s lasting relationships such as these that allow Charlie the opportunity to source from the top vineyards on Red Mountain.
Changes are happening quickly now! Take a look at the changes our Fidelitas Estate Vineyard, 2008 planting has gone through in only seven days! This fruit will be harvested this year, and the wine will be released in 2020. If you find yourself wanting to learn more about our Estate Vineyard, our Red Mountain Team hosts our Fidelitas Estate Experience tours on select dates this fall. Its our opportunity to share and explain the magic happening in our very back yard. Mark your calendar guys- this fruit is already looking exceptional.