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    Winemaker's Logbook

    Blooming in the Vineyard, Booming in the Winery

    Blooming in the Vineyard, Booming in the Winery

    So you're thinking about visiting Prince Edward County wine country? But, when is the best time to come to actually experience the happenings of the vineyard and winery? Well, there are many captivating times that you could pick. There is the hustle and bustle of harvest in the fall. There is the excitement and satisfaction of bottling which happens both in the spring and late summer. There's also veraison in early August when the vines are full of green canopy and the grapes turn colour, marking the start of their ripening process. But truly, one of the most magical and organoleptically satisfying times is now, when the grape vines are in bloom.

        Pictured above is a "cluster" of flowers in bloom.
    This structure is also called an inflorescence

     Did you know that each grape starts as a flower? A grape flower begins as a closed structure allowing the reproductive organs to be enclosed by a cap called a calyptra. The species of grapevine that we commonly grow, Vitis Vinifera, are self-pollinating and considered perfect flowers. This means that the flower has both male and female parts. The female organ is at the base of the flower and is called the pistil. It has an opening on the top of the structure called a stigma. Five stamens surround the pistil and each stamen has an anther on top which is the male organ containing the pollen. When the cap (or calyptra) falls off the pollen lands on the stigma and pollination occurs. Eventually the pistil will form our beloved grape and we enter the stage known as fruit set.

    Pictured above is a grape flower with the parts labelled. 

     So let's do some math: there are about 75-100 grapes per cluser; about 15 clusters per vine; 1200 vines per acre, and we have about 15 planted acres (allowing for some mortality) - that's 20,250,000 flowers! The entire vineyard is filled with this sweet soft scent and it looks gorgeous too.

    Pictured above is the beginning of fruit set. 

    In addition to our vines being in bloom, there are a few other things you might see while you're visiting the winery. In the vineyard, you will see our team thinning the shoots of the vines. This opens up the canopy allowing light and air through. In the winery, we just finished a really large bottling which means that there are some special releases coming up in the next week or so! Stay tuned!

    If you have a question or a topic you would like to know more about, we would love to hear from you! Please email us at winery@harwoodestatevineyards.com and we will cover it in a future post!

    Our tasting room is open 11- 6 everyday, all year long!

    References:

    https://articles.extension.org/pages/31097/parts-of-the-grape-vine:-flowers-and-fruit

    Deconstructing Our Windward White

    Deconstructing Our Windward White

    Harwood Estate Vineyards Windward White - a fresh, enticing and fruit forward wine that is versatile with food or delightful on it's own. Sounds simple enough, right? But beneath this fairly simple and clear description is a complex matrix of thought, skill and individual components, all woven together to build this complex yet effortless wine. Let's take a deeper look.

    Windward White is one of our most popular wines. We have been making this wine since 2012. It is also one of our most widely available wines and can be found in our retail shop, online, in select LCBO's and grocery stores. A significant feature of our Windward White is that it is a blended wine. It can be broken down to its components of 4 different grapes: Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Vidal and Chardonnay. The individual characteristics of these grapes and the percentages of them that we use all work together to create our seamless Windward.

     

    Our 2018 Windward White patiently waits in tank for bottling. 

    The art of blending has been practiced for many years in winemaking history and there are many regions famous for this practice. Consider Bordeaux, France - one of the most prestigious wine regions in the world. A bottle of Chateau Latour can sell for well over $1000. Bordeaux is typically a blended wine made from different variations and combinations of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Often you will see a variation of this blend in Ontario called Meritage. Blending is a skill that we, as winemakers, must learn and continue to develop throughout our career. It requires the ability to taste a particular wine and understand how it's characteristics will interact with other components. It involves a lot of trial and error in the form of many tastings - it's hard work, but someone has to do it, right?!

    When we begin constructing our Windward White we first start by creating an organoleptic picture in our mind - an ideal for what we want the wine to be and to express. We then look for the base wines that will help paint that picture. So for our Windward, we want to create an experience for our senses that is full of flavour and freshness; one that entices you to take another sip. We want a wine that is complex enough to pair with your favourite meals, but simple enough that you can enjoy on it's own. We selected four grapes that will help us achieve this. Let's look a little deeper at each of the components:

    Riesling: Riesling is high in acidity. We use this as a backbone to support the blend and provide freshness. It imparts a lively citrus character and depending on the vintage, it can also provide notes of tropical fruit, apricot, green apple, lime and honey. The backbone of acidity also helps contribute to a long finish.

    Vidal: Vidal is all about the mouthfeel and the aromatics. It adds pleasant flavours of peach, honeysuckle, pineapple and citrus. It has a richly textured palate which adds body and complexity to the blend.

    Chardonnay: Chardonnay is one of those grapes that sort of has it all. It adds weight, flavour, aromatics and acidity. It's not a grape that is excessive in any of those departments, but is just right and helps provide a solid base for the additional components of the blend.

    Gewürztraminer: Gewürztraminer is an aromatic grape, and we love the tropical notes of lychee, mango and the zesty notes of grapefruit and orange peel mixed with it's delicate florality that enhances the nose of our blend.

    Now that we have selected our base wines, this is where the trial and error comes in. We perform a series of tastings and blending trials which include different combinations of these wines until we find that perfect combo. From year to year, the percentages of the grapes in the blend will change. This is due to vintage variations and how we feel the wines are tasting, but we tend to always keep those four grapes. After we have decided on the components of our blend, we blend the wines together, stabilize and bottle!

    From a winemaking perspective, blends are fun to make. They also help us maintain consistency amongst a style of wine from year to year. Our Windward White isn't the only blend we do! Our other blends include Admirals Blend, Meritage and our County Red - all available for tastings in our retail shop in Hillier, Prince Edward County, Ontario! We hope to see you soon!

    If you have a question or a topic you would like to know more about, we would love to hear from you! Please email us at winery@harwoodestatevineyards.com and we will cover it in a future post!

    Our tasting room is open 11 - 6 all year long! Click/Tap here for directions.

    Élevage

    Élevage

    It has been said that summer is when the earth is exhaling, breathing out greenery, life and energy; and winter is when the earth is inhaling, breathing in energy, calmness and rest. This time of year is when we take a deep, refreshing breath in. It is when we mull over the completion of our last season and gear up for another exhalation of a new season. Our vines have lignified, have become dormant, and are buried under the soil to protect them from the cold winter temperatures—they are off to a well deserved rest.

    Our Gewurztraminer block off to rest for the winter with a recent covering of snow. 

    In the Winery, our wines are in the stage known as élevage. This is a term that loosely translates to aging, growing or evolving. The magical thing about wine is that it is dynamic; it is alive. The results that we received after fermentation are just the beginning, which makes this period of élevage vital. This stage will evolve a raw, post-fermentation wine into something more mature, complex and full of character. The wine gains substance during this time. The outcome of élevage is largely a result of enzymatic and molecular reactions and interactions, including interactions with oxygen and the vessel that the wine is housed in. The length of time of élevage, and the actions of me, the winemaker, are other factors that can affect the outcome of élevage. Some wines such as our Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, and rosés will have a shorter élevage period, which means that we will bottle them in the spring to capture some of the youthfulness. Other wines such as our Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Meritage will stay aging in barrels for up to two years, allowing the wine to mature and truly evolve. The élevage process will continue even once the wine is in bottle. This is why we pay particular attention to when we release our wines for sale and monitor how our wines are aging over time.

    So enjoy the energy, calmness, and rest that winter brings—we'll see you next post!

     

    If you have a question or a topic you would like to know more about, we would love to hear from you! Please email us at winery@harwoodestatevineyards.com and we will cover it in a future post!
    Our Tasting Room is open 11 AM to 6 PM all year. Come by for a visit!
    Harwood wines are available in many LCBO and Grocery stores all over Ontario.