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Spring 2019 Winemaking Update

The team here at Stonestreet wishes you a happy and healthy New Year and we hope your days are filled with many delicious wines, shared by family and friends. As a winemaker, I am often asked when our “slow” time of year is and while I’d like to say the winter months, we still find ourselves quite busy even now.

In our continued effort to produce world class wines, we study every individual vineyard block on the mountain to maintain our legacy for crafting the highest quality wines from the estate. Studying the soils, water holding capacity, micro-climates and having an understanding of what previously grew in each block is paramount in determining what should be planted in the future. It has been educational and exciting to have the opportunity to make suggestions based on all of these factors for which varieties, clones and rootstocks should be used as we gear up to re-plant older sections of the estate. There is a section on the estate that we refer to as “Hawkeye” that will be undergoing re-planting this year and we will continue to monitor other areas as we build future replanting plans.  In addition to the re-plantings, more vineyard blocks on Cougar Ridge will be getting grafted this spring to new varietals. These efforts and the great attention to small detail will lead to improved vineyard sites for the future, optimizing the potential for each block on the mountain estate.

The team in the winery was busy throughout January racking the 2018 Cabernets out of barrel to remove any heavy lees that may have settled after harvest. This action also integrates more oxygen, often helping to soften tannins and open-up some of our mountain Cabernets aromatically.  This is a great time for us to be tasting each individual barrel to see which toast profiles complement which vineyard blocks. In February we topped and stirred, and topped again, all the 2018 Chardonnays helping to keep them fresh and start to build that creaminess on the palate with sur lees aging. We also blended the 2017 single vineyard Cabernets, giving them time to harmonize in barrel prior to bottling in June. In March we will be preparing the Sauvignon Blanc’s for bottling in April.

This winter brought 69.95 inches of rain on the mountain (!!), 28.45 of which fell in February alone. Usually, our average rainfall is 32 inches. Needless to say, it's been a very wet winter. 

The vineyard team remained busy digging wattles and cleaning out the FISH friendly drains to prevent erosion across the estate. We had a very exciting February 5th when we awoke to the majority of the mountain being dusted with about an inch of snow! I have seen a sprinkling of snow on the estate before at the higher elevations, but nothing quite like this, it was gorgeous! Glittering as the sun shined on the vines and cover crops, the snow went all the way down to 900 feet of elevation. Since the vines are still dormant at that time of year, there was no harm done, just pure enjoyment for the local Alexander Valley community.

Club members, we hope you enjoy your latest shipment and would love to see you at the estate soon!

 

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