Monday, January 30, 2017


January is the calm before the storm in the winery.  The 2016s are on their last stages of their secondary fermentation.  Once that is completed, then the wine has to be racked into barrels or other maturation containers, ridding the wine of the spent yeast (lees) sediment.

The lees add complexity to the wine but once the secondary is complete there's a fine line where the complexity can become too overbearing.

The wines are tasting good and I am looking forward to racking the wine off the sediment. I monitor the bubbles every day at this juncture and await the secondary completion with baited breath.

The winter has been as snowy and cold as I have seen it in at least a decade.  The vines are unscathed however with no evident damage but I anticipate a later than normal bud break which probably corresponds to a later harvest.  We've been spoiled with early harvests the last three years. La Nina is probably not my favorite phenomenon.

As soon as it warms up some, I will begin spring pruning.  It is a time consuming process but a rather satisfying endeavor combining art and science.  I like to leave only 14-16 buds per vine for the new crop but I tend to not count any more.

We picked the remaining Cabernet Franc in 12-degree weather on January 3rd and made a light port wine. I am excited about this. Not sure how it will mature, though.  Could be a couple years before it is ready.

Bottled some 2015 Cabernet Franc and 2015 Malbec for release in May.

2014 Merlot and Red Blend are still available.

All for now…Looking forward to getting out in the vineyard when it thaws out!



Saturday, October 22, 2016


Except for some Cabernet Franc left on the vine for a possible Ice wine if weather gets cold enough, or a late harvest dessert wine, all other grapes have been picked.

It has been wild and hectic with 5 weekends in a row of picking and crushing.  Each trip, we pick close to a ½ ton of grapes and crush them and transfer the must to fermenters.  I like to inoculate them with yeast immediately and am a big fan of cool and slow fermentations which keep as much of the fruitiness intact as possible.

The weather cooperated nicely, except for rain on the last trip, and the grapes are gorgeous.  Good sugars, good color, good acids.  I am excited for the 2016 crop.

After about 8 days of fermentation with the fermentation not quite fermented to dryness, I press off the juice (or perform free run) into air tight containers and inoculate them with malolactic culture which will change the harsher malic acid to the softer lactic (think yoghurt) acid over time.  Malo works slower than yeast so it will do it's work over the course of a few months.

At some point in the process, I determine which wines will go into stainless, glass, or oak containers.

I have a couple more weeks of pressing to do but the Cab Franc Rosé, Roussanne, Malbec, Merlot, and about ½ of the Syrah are pressed. The rest of the Syrah and the Cabernet Sauvignon remain to be crushed in the coming two weeks.

The Roussanne was whole cluster pressed but the other varieties are all free run which means only the free running juice is used.  I lose some volume with this method but prefer the finished wine to have fewer harsh tannins which occur with pressing.

I am considering pressing the Cabernet Sauvignon but the verdict is still out on that.  I might want more structure to the Cab since the fruit is so pristine at the moment.

I had lots of volunteer help and needless to say, it would have been difficult to accomplish this level of production without them.  I am truly grateful.

All for now… I have pressing matters to attend to!



Wednesday, August 10, 2016


A good wine begins in the vineyard! The 2016 growing season, as with 2015 season, has been extraordinary for the grapes. As I write this currently the Syrah is about 50% into Veraison which is the softening and purpling of the grapes. The other varieties are just starting Veraison which is earlier than normal corresponding to a harvest which will begin probably Sept 10th and run a month to 6 weeks depending upon variety and ripeness.

We have finished netting the grapes as both the Brewster site and the Othello site lie in heavily populated aviary areas. We also have to tie the nets shut at the bottom as the birds have an uncanny ability to find any opening to procure their precious grapes.

In any rows in the past where we did not net up, the grapevines were gleaned clean. The nets don’t help with the black bears in Brewster, however, as they use their long fingernails to meticulously pick each and every berry through the nets. They only skirt the outlying rows however, so I tolerate their hard work and enthusiasm as they truly appreciate Silent Owl grapes.

The sugars are just breaking the teens at 12-13 brix. The final sugars should be a measure of 22 to 26 brix and they will gain about 2 points per week for the next couple of weeks and then slow down somewhat.

The varieties mature at different dates which I am thankful for so that not all harvest, crush, etc. has to be done at the same time. Chronologically we have historically picked in the following order:

Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Sauvignon

I'm looking for a sugar level of 24-26 and medium texture brown seeds with little to no shrivel. This gives me what I need for wines with good structure without being overbearingly ripe or alcoholic.

Note, this year, if all goes well I will be trying a Cabernet Franc Rosé. I will process them the same as the Roussanne which is to whole cluster press them lightly, discard the skins and ferment the juice slow and cold (around 55 degrees).

I’m excited to get going into harvest and plan to keep you updated. Need wine for Labor Day? Our 2014 wines are available now.