Past, Present, & Future Pinot Noir

 

The winery celebrated our 5th Anniversary this month, with a tasting of different vintages of our Estate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to showcase the past, present and future of Regale.  It was definitely a time to reflect on how much the winery has changed over the years, and how far we have come since we began pouring tastings in the “gardens” back when it was less garden and really just more… dirt.

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From a wine standpoint, it was great to see the progression of our Estate Pinot Noir vineyard as we tasted the 2008 Estate Pinot Noir which was the first real production vintage, the 2012 which is our current vintage, and the 2014 straight from the barrel which will be bottled later this year.  The 2008 vintage, of which we were lucky enough to have a few cases left, has aged beautifully and is definitely coming into its own – a rare treat for anyone who was able to keep from drinking it over the last five years since its release. As with people, we often see when wines age they become more of what they have always been.  A mediocre wine will only stand to disappoint, while a wine with structure, complexity, and pedigree stands to become so much more.

As a few people noticed in the tasting notes, only 188 cases were produced in the 2008 vintage, while in the 2012 current vintage, there were 433 cases produced.  When talking about our Estate vineyard this is one of the most common questions that comes up – how much wine does our vineyard produce? While this should seem like an easy formula, it is in fact anything but. On average a vineyard can produce between 1 and 4+ tons of grapes per acre under vine.  Many things affect this production level including the age of the vineyard, growing conditions, pruning style, and winemaking choices.

Our Estate Pinot Noir vineyard is all hillside with 3.5 acres densely planted – about 4,000 Pinot vines in total, which are a mix of Dijon clones 115 and 777, and Pommard clone 5.  The vineyard was originally planted back in 2006 from 2 year old rootstocks which were grafted and grown in a nursery. When a vineyard is first planted, the production is limited and will increase each year until the 4th or 5th harvest when the vines reach their full potential. For example in 2007 we only harvested 1 ton for the “test” vintage, while in 2008 we were up to 4 tons and since 2010 we have been at full capacity with around 12 tons per year from the 3.5 acres under vine.  As we ponder the wines in progress, the 2013 and 2014 vintages were both stellar in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and the wines are showcasing those great growing years.

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Looking at where the winery has come from and where we are headed, we could not be more excited to see what the next 5 years hold for the winery and for the wines still to come. The past 5 years have brought dozens of amazing wines, an Estate vineyard at full production, a gorgeous winery building with manicured gardens, and myriad celebrations of all kinds. The fond memories are not only ours, but shared with our guests and extended Regale family who have, over the past five years, celebrated birthdays, marriage proposals, weddings, babies, and new friends while sipping a glass of Regale wine or relaxing in our gardens.  So here’s to our guests- for giving us a reason to make wine, and a reason to celebrate!

Back to our Rootstock: February

Pruning for our Estate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines began in late January, and finished by mid-February. While late pruning is better for disease resistance and can delay bud break, with the warm weather we have had thus far, vines are coming out of dormancy early so it was important to finish pruning expediently. This year properly timed pruning ended up being especially important as vineyards across California are experiencing very early bud break.

As many of you may know from your own backyard fruit trees, pruning is necessary to ensure the best quality of the fruit for the coming harvest. Each year grapevines produce new “canes” which will develop shoots to bear the fruit.  Pruning CloseupAs only one-year-old canes can bear fruit, each year we must remove older canes which no longer serve a purpose to the vine.  By making the selections about where and how we prune the vine, we will be affecting everything about how the year’s crop will develop- no pressure there! Pruning is one of the great arts of grape growing that can never be mechanized due to the precision and careful selection of each cut.

Luckily at Regale, we were fully pruned in both of our Estate vineyards before bud break! First signs of bud break come when the tiny buds on the vine start to swell, then begin to sprout shoots and eventually develop grape leaves. We always love to see some green in the vineyard, although this early in the year can be a bit nerve-wracking!  Some of our Estate Chardonnay vines in warmer spots have indeed begun to send out their leaves, as Spring is clearly upon us given the unseasonably warm and dry February we have been experiencing. If you haven’t been up to the winery lately, now is a great time to come check out the Estate Chardonnay vineyard, as vines are visible at each stage, from swollen buds all the way to actual foliage.

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Back to our Rootstock: January

Although this January has been quite a lovely one here at Regale, with uncharacteristically sunny and clear skies, our Estate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines are fully aware that winter is upon us.  After harvest in the Fall, when temperatures drop and the first frost comes, vines enter into a state of dormancy (or as I like to call it Winterruhe from the German term for “winter rest”).  January is arguably one of the quietest times in the winegrowing year, with few decisions to make as both the vines, and our winemaking team can rest and look forward to the coming growing year.  During this time of dormancy, neither frost nor rain, sleet or snow can bother these normally temperamental plants.   As we look forward to February, we will enter the time when decisions must be made about pruning the now fully dormant vines. But for now we will simply enjoy the beautiful days, crisp air and time off from vineyard management.

January Vines

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