tasting room hours:
13 Railroad Ave (1st & Cascade)
Enter @ Mt Hood Railroad
There's an old adage in winemaking (which like most things is probably more poetic in French) that says "the trick to making good wine is to get good fruit...and don't #*@& it up."
Well, so far so good. 2012 was an epic, once-in-a-lifetime harvest. Perfect fruit. Intense ripeness balanced by high acidity. No rot. Rain at just the right time. And fruit came in at a perfect pace to make processing a pleasure. There were even a couple days off when nothing was happening and I got to sleep in (thanks for doing punchdowns Trina!).
And now the wine is in barrel and tank. Reds are getting racked, SO2 ajusted, and chromotography done. Whites are being cold-stabilized and fined, prepping for cross-flow filtration in a month. There is a lot of wine downstairs (between SHC and Cerulean we did 70+ tons this year), and there's lots to do, but it is a nice time of year to be working with the wines, accompanied by my old dog Captain. It's peaceful down here (except when I abraid my arm with the 4000psi pressure washer...ouch).
I'm getting labels prepped and pretty soon we'll be bottling 2011 pinot noir, sangiovese, and grenache. And then we'll bottle the 2012 whites. And then the 2011 Ruins Red in time for Fourth of July. And then before you know it summer will be flying by and another harvest will be right on our heels.
But for now, it's peaceful down here.
Perhaps the most important thing I can say is that we have had a summer. That might not sound like earth-shattering news, but given the way the last two years unfolded, with springs melding into autumns without much fuss between, this summer arrived on time and has provided us with the heat and sun the vines need, while maintaining a balance of warm days and cool nights (winemakers drool over good diurnal temperature readings). In short, 2012 has the potential to be a "vintage of a lifetime". Of course, we aren't out of the woods just yet. Most vineyards are just starting to take on some color (Fr: veraison) and it's typically another 6 weeks from that point to harvest, so there are plenty of things that could go wrong. Let's just say we are cautiously optimistic right now. Better not to talk about, really. Like how you don't talk to a pitcher throwing a no-hitter....let's not even look at the grapes until October.
In the meantime, we've released the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, which in my humble opinion is absolutely delicious. It shows a touch more of the grassiness of the New Zealand style, without overwhelming a zingy grapefruit core. You should probably come by the winery and taste it while the sun is still shining.
In the music industry, they release new albums on Tuesdays. I'm not sure where this tradition started, but I've decided it works perfect for wine as well. Today we release the 2010 Seven Hills Sangiovese! And if you're local, you can come down for our first Ruins Tuesday of the summer and enjoy a glass with your friends and DJ Beat Farmer, then Tony Smiley at 6:30...and belly dancers.... and fire dancers.... and Solstice Pizza...Double Mountain ClusterF*$k...it's gonna be ridiculous fun. And to top it off, the sun is out!
We're really happy with the Sangiovese from 2010. No new oak (16 months in once-fills), just lots of the bitter cherry and violet that make sangiovese the best food wine in the world. We only made 80 cases, so come and get it -- it won't be around for long. We'll also be pouring Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Ruins Red, and Syrah too, so your options are pretty much wide open. Hope to see you at the winery.
This weekend we are set to debut our 2011 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay from Garnier Vineyard in Mosier. We think of this as a debutante ball...I mean, it is Chardonnay, but we won't enforce a black tie dress code. This is Hood River after all, so you can happily show up in jeans and a baseball cap. In fact, that's what I will be wearing.
For the record, the '11 vintage is similar to '09 in flavor and structure (which is probably good since it was your love for the '09 that led to its rapid disappearance). Half of the fruit for the '11 was fermented in neutral barrel…the other half in temperature controlled stainless steel. We believe that this balance between body and edginess suited the vintage. We made no acid adjustments, and we inhibited ML, so it's not flabby or buttery. It's a great example of the difference between fruity and sweet, as it shows loads of fruit but is dry (<0.4%RS). This is Chardonnay for people who think they don't like Chardonnay anymore.
We only made 124 or so cases so we don't expect it to be around the tasting room for more than a year, but it has enough acid to age well for at least five times that long. And in case you're wondering, you didn't miss anything, and it's not a typo...there is no 2010 vintage.
So, this Memorial Day Weekend, when the sun comes out and you're feeling liberated from this lingering spring rain, and you find yourself looking for an excuse to get out and see a waterfall or take a hike, why don't you come out to the Gorge and get your hands on a growlier of stellar Chardonnay while you're at it.
We're almost out of 2009 Pinot Noir. Hmmm...
We're almost out of 2009 Chardonnay. Double hmmm....
But we're bottling soon. Second only to harvest, bottling is a manic activity in the winery. But it's always a good feeling to get the wine into bottles. Kinda like sending the kids off to college. Next week we'll be bottling 2009 Merlot and 2010 Sangiovese. And the week after that we'll bottle 2011 Chardonnay. Later this summer we'll bottle 2011 Sauv Blanc and this fall we'll get to the 2011 Pinot Noir. And somewhere in there we'll deal with the astonishingly tiny lot of Riesling we made last fall. We had hoped to get our hands on two-to-four tons. But it was a lean year. Yields were low. We got half of one ton. That made about 30 cases of wine. It will be our "secret stash"...the kind of wine you need to know a secret handshake to get.
Of course, the big news around these parts is that the new bathrooms are done. You should come down to the winery just to take a peek. We are now fully on board to host events up to 464 people. Imagine that! (For the record, if we ever actually have 454 people in this building, I guarantee I will be hiding under a rock in Mosier.) It's unlikely we'll ever cram that many people in here but it's nice to know we could if we had to. The greater occupancy will give us the flexibility to do all sorts of things better. First on the agenda is a big party coming in June to celebrate the remodel. We'll post details about that soon. And soon after that we'll be restarting our Ruins Tuesdays. At that point you'll know it's officially summer. In the meantime we're hosting a crazy tasting of Italian wines, focusing on Tuscany and the south, on May 12th at Springhouse from 1-4. It's gonna be amazing, with food paired to the wines by our friend Ben Stenn at Celilo, and a dozen amazing, hard-to-find wines that will be available to you at distributor prices. Contact me directly (email@example.com) if you want more info on that.
Now go out outside. Plant a carrot. Enjoy your Spring!
It's been super icy out there, and driving has been dangerous, but we are open today from 12-3 if you need to refill your wine rack. Cheers!
Shortly after we posted our last blog about being open today, our power went out at the winery. So we regret to inform you, that we have been forced to be closed oncse again today, Saturday, January 21st.
We plan to re-open tomorrow, but we will keep you updated on our website blog and on our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Springhousecellar
Please stay tuned, and be safe out there!
Cheers, Springhouse Crew
I actually get tomorrow off. Imagine that. It's been a while.
Contrary to what you might have read, this was not a horrible vintage. Yields were low, and there was a bit of stress involved, but in the end good growers adapted to difficult circumstances and adjusted to the season to produce beautiful fruit. We got Cabernet (Sauvignon & Franc) from Chandler Reach. Len is a great guy and his fruit is amazing. We got Sangiovese from Seven Hills in Walla Walla, and from Gunkel Vineyards out at Peach Beach near Maryhill. The Gorge fruit came in almost a month after Walla Walla, but was just as beautiful as the much esteemed 7H stuff. Of course we got Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc from Garnier in Mosier (historically, the backbone of our winemaking here at Springhouse) as well as a touch of Riesling from Underwood Vineyards. Oh...and Grenache! Can't wait to see how the Grenache develops (also from the Gunkel vineyards). In the end the fruit this year showed good acids and ripe sugars with lots of brown stems,crunchy seeds and well developed flavors.
Having said that, many vineyards in our neck of the woods reported yields at about 40% of normal. There were lots of reasons for this...starting with frost damage from last year, poor fruit set in a cold spring, rains that led to shatter at bloom, and lackluster sun all summer. What this means in real terms is that the wines from 2011 have the potential to be great...there just won't be much of them. We had planned to make about 2000 cases...we'll end up with about 1300.
This morning the chardonnay barrels are all whistling...the cap has fallen on the cab...the pinots are almost ready to press...the cab franc, grenache, and sangio are all crackling in the midst of ML and settling in tank...with any luck everybody will be tucked in, barreled down and put to bed by Thanksgiving, and at that point someone will take a really long snoring nap with his dog.
OCTOBER 1 2011
First of all I should mention that we just released four 2009 reds (pinot noir, cab sauv, petite sirah, and a new red blend). We still have a little bit of 2009 merlot and syrah in barrel prepping to get into bottle, hopefully before the 2011 fruit shows up.
Speaking of fruit showing up...wow! Seems like summer never happened. We had one day over 100 in August and just a handful over 90. And now, it's cloudy, cooling off, and rain is in the forecast for the next 5 days, at least. There are vineyards on Underwood across the river from us that are sitting at 15 brix and will never get ripe this year. Some people have stopped farming them for the year - throwing in the towel to save money on labor and spray. Very sad. Vineyards in Mosier, and Wishram are doing much better and will be harvested sometime between now and Halloween. All this is making me furrow my brow, because this is shaping up to be one of those years when everyone picks on the same day and drops 30 tons of fruit on our doorstep in one fell swoop. It will likely be a fast and furious harvest. A bit like ripping off a bandaid.
The last few mornings there's been a crispness to the air that reminds us that fall is here. My dogs do their business quickly and race me back to the warmth of the house. Baseball playoffs started last night. Our favorite food magazines are offering Thanksgiving suggestions. Our CSA is delivering just one more basket. Fall is a time for self reflection, holiday buzz, family & friends and entertaining --coincidentally, things that all call for pouring copious amounts of wine. We hope you'll come down and get your growler filled...maybe try out the new pinot - it's from Mosier fruit - and help us sort some grapes.
Finally...Summer is actually here. Grapes are ripening. Birds are singing. And the winery is abuzz as we prepare to bottle our 2009 reds, 2010 reds finish up malolactic, and the 2011 harvest plan comes into focus.
On the events side (Angel has said goodbye to her life for a while), most summer weekend nights are booked with reheasal dinners and wedding receptions. "Ruins Tuesdays" is proving to be a hugely popular, with a regular crowd of friends and families coming every week for Springhouse wine, Solstice Pizza, local craft beer, and great music in what is easily the most unique venue in the Northwest.
Our summer Wineclub Shipment is right around the corner, and we're conspiring to spruce-up the perks of membership... upcoming wineclub events will inlude blending parties, catered winemaker dinners under the stars in the Ruins, and the chance to dig into our distributors' books for some screaming deals on all sorts of treasures from every corner of the world. We'll keep you posted on that.
So, get out there and enjoy this summer while you can. Give your garden some love...head down to the farmers' market...get on your board...hike Dog Mountain...bomb down the syncline...and then, when you're all tuckered out, be sure to come visit us for a glass of wine.
And don't forget the sunscreen.