We are one month into the new year and we survived the holidays. Right now we are in the middle of the pruning season when each vine must be pruned with special attention. This is not time for hackers! To me, pruning is an art. Each vine is different, which really makes it challenging. What we do in January with a pruning shear is what shows up in September as a grape crop. To make it simple, strong vines must be given more wood and more buds. Weak vines need to be cut back and some vines need to be totally reshaped. For a normal vine, it takes somewhere between four and ten minutes, depending on the size and number of cuts and how much brush there is to remove. I think it is the most important thing we do to the vines. Pruned properly, vines should last 60 years. Otherwise, most people get nearly 30 years from a grapevine. The Valley View Vineyard is 46 years old but its production competes with the best young vineyards.
2020 Sole Bianco: We changed the blend from what we had been doing in the past. This wine is a little more Italian. The base wines are Muscat and Malvasia Bianca blended with Riesling so there are a lot of aromatics. The Riesling adjusts the dominance of the Muscat and Malvasia. It is not sweet but dry. Serve chilled. It is refreshing with a mouth full of flavors.
2019 Barbera: This vintage may be the best Barbera that we have ever made. Last year, we picked one of the best crops ever of Barbera off of vines that are at least 44 years old. This is a very well-balanced wine. By that, I mean that it has softness but it is not too soft. It has strength but it is not overwhelming. It has a richness and is just a really good wine. You need to add this one to your wine collection.
2018 Sangiovese: There are not too many Italian wines that you can say could be served with cocktails. This is the one. Flavor. Fullness. Softness. A taste-good wine that would be great with appetizers. Wines like this caused us last year to graft five more acres to Sangiovese and interplant five acres in our Pinot Grigio to Sangiovese. It is very much in demand as grapes and as wine. Los Alamos may be the perfect place to grow this variety. It is a key variety in our Super-Tuscans; the Riserva and the Classico.
We are seeing an increased interest in our Italian wines. I think the new Tasting Room has helped. 24 years ago, we made a decision to keep the Italian varieties. We had given some thought to grafting them out. In a few weeks, one of the premier Italian wine writers in both Italy and the U.S. is going to pay us a visit.
Hopefully, we will see an improvement with health issues and that things will be better for everybody. In the meantime, smile and be safe.