Kukkula Wines

Saturday September 22, 2012

reserving judgement

By Kevin

What a dif­fer­ence a year make! In the 2011 grow­ing sea­son we had just about every curve ball pos­si­ble thrown at us. The rains didn’t seem to want to end. We had a late bud break, heavy winds in the Spring, frost (even snow) near the end of April. Fruit set was light. In the case of our Grenache, it was a mini-disaster.

Fast for­ward to 2012. The rains start­ed out ear­ly, and it seemed like we were going to have a repeat of 2011. But then we went through a dry spell in Dec/​Jan and had a whole series of storms that bare­ly spritzed the vine­yard. April became the sav­ior, yet the sea­son of rain still end­ed a bit shy of 18 inches.

When the rains stopped, Spring came on like a light switch, and it seemed like the grow­ing sea­son was going to be text­book per­fect. In many ways it was. Growth was vig­or­ous, and the flow­er­ing came and went with­out a hitch. Fruit set was huge! So we dropped a bunch of fruit in June. Much of the sum­mer was very tem­per­ate with only a short three day heat spike in ear­ly July. For the most part, the vines didn’t notice. Our Mourve­dre, how­ev­er (per­haps because of the more upright canopy struc­ture), got zapped and maybe 20% of our small clus­ters were lit­er­al­ly fried. So for the next few months I bit my fin­ger­nails won­der­ing if the yields would be there, and the plants could sus­tain the fruit that was left through the grow­ing season.

Around the end of July, and real­ly through much of August, the tem­per­a­tures soared. As a dry farmer I’m always con­cerned about pro­longed heat and the toll it takes on the plants since I can’t give them water. Even­tu­al­ly the plants start to pull need­ed water from the grapes.

Sur­pris­ing­ly, the con­cerns over dehy­dra­tion were unfound­ed. The vines per­formed beau­ti­ful­ly. Per­haps a val­i­da­tion of just how well the soil and rocks retain mois­ture and the root sys­tem drills down to what­ev­er depths are necessary.

Around the sec­ond week of August I began to real­ize just how much fruit was out there. After hav­ing dropped clus­ters in June, it appeared that anoth­er aggres­sive round was nec­es­sary. It’s hard to know real­ly what per­cent­age of fruit is removed, but I’m sure it was eas­i­ly north of 50%.

A lot of peo­ple vis­it­ing us over the grow­ing sea­son would ask me about my thoughts and expec­ta­tions on how the dif­fer­ent grow­ing envi­ron­ment from 2011 to 2012 would affect our vine­yard and wine this sea­son. I would typ­i­cal­ly respond by say­ing that I thought the crop would be lighter than aver­age, and per­haps the result­ing wines would have more com­plex­i­ty and inten­si­ty because of the added stress the plants would endure from a sub-par rainy sea­son. This is our fourth har­vest now from our estate, the light­est rain­fall sea­son of the four, and the one pre­dic­tion I was pret­ty sure about was dead wrong. With the excep­tion of Cab, every vari­etal gave us 20% more yield than expect­ed. Go fig­ure! What is it that makes a plant pro­duce a huge crop when rains are light and we have 5 – 6 weeks of 95 – 100 degree tem­per­a­tures? Oh yeah, and the Mourve­dre? We took in six tons of fruit. That com­pares to 3.5 tons last year, even with the fried clus­ters in July.

So how do I think the 2012 vin­tage will rank com­pared to to the pri­or three? Well the fruit came in real­ly clean. For the most part the ripeness wasn’t an issue like in 2011. We were able to pull our entire crop in a rel­a­tive­ly order­ly fash­ion; so no over-ripeness. Acid­i­ty is an issue, yet that is some­thing eas­i­ly addressed. Aro­mat­ics and fla­vors seem sol­id. Col­or is lack­ing in the Grenache and Counoise. I’m told that the antho­cyanins (that which gives you col­or in the skins) are prob­a­bly retard­ed in long peri­ods of heat, espe­cial­ly post veraison.

My guess is that the vin­tage will be sol­id for us. Per­haps bet­ter than 2011. I’ll reserve judge­ment, though, until the blends are com­plet­ed next sum­mer. That said, maybe after this har­vest sea­son is put to bed (six weeks ear­li­er than last year, I might add), I should go and re-taste the 2011 bar­rels. Who knows, maybe 2011 is even bet­ter than I thought!

all things not wine: kitchen, olive oil, and more

By Paula

Sales in the kukku­la kitchen have been pick­ing up, with steady vol­ume through the Sum­mer, and even a cou­ple of week­ends where we have run out of food this Fall. Antic­i­pat­ing what our needs will be each week­end is a par­tic­u­lar­ly dif­fi­cult chal­lenge, and one that we aren’t very good at meet­ing. As a result, most week­ends we have left­overs. Our lat­est solu­tion for this is to bring the left­overs to a local tast­ing room for the employ­ees on Mon­days. Over­all, our house-made sand­wich­es and sal­ads have been very well received, and if you haven’t had a chance to try some, plan your next tast­ing around lunch time!

Our olive oil sales have also been steady and we are almost out of large (750ml) bot­tles until next har­vest. We antic­i­pate har­vest­ing in Decem­ber, but don’t have a date yet for the mobile press. We will try to get a Fri­day or Sat­ur­day date so you can see the process too. We’ll be sure to send out an email to let you know exact­ly when it will hap­pen. We are also cur­rent­ly try­ing to wade through the paper­work nec­es­sary to get our oil into some of the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Whole Foods loca­tions. Hope­ful­ly by the time we bot­tle the new har­vest, we will have worked it out.

Keep us in mind for your hol­i­day gift giv­ing. A bot­tle of your choice of kukku­la wine, a 250ml olive oil and a wine jel­ly fit nice­ly into a 2‑bottle ship­per, (bet­ter yet, two bot­tles of wine, olive oil and jel­ly in a 3‑bottle ship­per), and we can ship out your gifts to most states. Con­tact us for specifics (805)227‑0181

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