Summer has arrived! Aneeta and I are making the most of it before harvest rolls around. A few weeks ago we went to BottleRock. We were blown away. Some of the highlights for us included Cage the Elephant, the Bacon Bacon food truck and Lagunitas' limited release brew, Equinox.
If you hadn’t already heard, I am now the winemaker for Swanson Vineyards in Oakville. Taking over from Chris Phelps, I’m honored to be chosen as only the third winemaker in over thirty years of operation. The new position also means that Apsara will be moving home, by the end of this month, the entire production will be over at Swanson Vineyards Winery.
Robin With Chris Phelps At Auction Napa Valley, 2015
I also attended Auction Napa Valley earlier this month, representing Swanson alongside Chris Phelps. With over 120-barrel lots, it was a great chance to get a sneak peek at the 2013 Cabernet Sauvignons from many great Napa Valley producers. Some of the standouts for me included, Turnbull, Atelier Melka, Stone the Crows and Hourglass. The event raised more than $15 million which was donated to child education and community health programs and I am happy to have been a part of that effort.
As the summer continues, Aneeta and I are looking forward to some down time in Seattle. If any of you have good recommendations for great places to eat and drink in Seatown we’d love to hear them!
Robin & Aneeta
Auction Napa Valley Images Courtesy of Ella Fernandez, Swanson Vineyards
Pruning season. It’s a bit like hitting the reset button. All of last years growth and expended energy is sitting in front of you as the shears cut through the canes. And with each cut you’re making way for the start of something new.For winemakers, pruning isn't just the beginning of a new season, it marks the start of a new year. It’s the point where we can lay down new canes, train young vines onto the trellis system and remove any damaged vines. After months working in the cellar with the 2014 production it certainly feels good to be back in the vineyard. And though the vines may look naked now, come the spring it will be a completely different story. Over the next month we'll start to see the vines come alive, marking the start of the 2015 vintage.
In 2012 we added a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon to the Apsara Cellars line up. Good year to jump into Napa Cabernet, because we had no idea what an incredible vintage it was going to turn out to be. After a comparatively rough 2011 harvest, the 2012 was a real blessing. The year offered up a near perfect growing season with a lengthy dry summer that extended well into early fall, allowing the grapes plenty of hang time to develope the intense flavor profiles, sugars and acids that we were after.
Sunrise over Kenefick Ranch during the 2012 harvest Credit: Kenefick Ranch
On arriving at winery the fruit was destemmed, cold soaked for four days, then inoculated and left to ferment in tank for a further ten. The wine was then pressed off and transferred to 100% new French oak, to complete fermentation. Natural malolactic fermentation and 18 months elevage brought the wine to a place where we were eager to bottle it. The wine was left to rest for four months in bottle prior to release.Off the bat the fruit delivered rich fruit flavors alongside a beautifully balanced acidity, as the grapes were handpicked from the vine, we couldn't help but get excited about their potential.The final product has exceeded our expectations and we're so proud to be able to share it with you. Head over to the Apsara Cellar’s store to read our tasting notes on the 2012 Kenefick Ranch Cabernet, and to secure your allocation.
With harvest in full swing we thought we would share some more information about the fruit for a new Sauvignon Blanc which will be added to our lineup in Spring 2015.
We recently took some Sauvignon blanc 317 and Sauvignon Musque from Kick Ranch. The vineyard site sits on the northern slope of Spring Mountain in the Rincon Valley, dividing Sonoma and Napa counties.
The 9 acre ranch is owned by Dick Keenan and his wife, Kathy McNamara who planted the vines in 2000. The rows sit on a mixture of volcanic and other rocky substrate which provides wonderful minerality to the fruit. Planting orientation makes the most of the sun exposure and cool nights and foggy mornings provide optimal grape growing conditions.
Not only is the fruit from from this site spectacular but Kick Ranch is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful vineyards we’ve seen. The hillside site offers incredible views of the Petaluma Wind Gap and Dick and Kathy have worked hard to preserve the locations natural biodiversity. Owl boxes and raptor perches are spread over the property in addition to bluebird boxes dotted throughout the vineyard.
We’re looking forward to working with Kick Ranch fruit and our aim is to make an SB that expresses the exquisite minerality of the volcanic soils balanced with floral, aromatic notes from the musque.
To achieve our goal, we've used a whole cluster press which has yielded two barrels of SB and two barrels of Sauvignon Musque. Three of these barrels will be fermented in neutral french oak and one barrel of the Sauvignon blanc will be fermented in stainless steel.
Bottling for the Kick Ranch Sauvignon Blanc is scheduled for early spring for release soon after.Before that though we’ve got the rest of the harvest to get through! We'll be taking in the cabernet sauvignon fruit for our Kenefick Ranch and Amoenus projects in a few weeks so watch this space for more harvest updates.
You may have noticed that things are looking a little different around here. Our website was long overdue for a makeover and the changes we've made are aimed to benefit our customers, old and new alike.
Of course you can still purchase wine from our online store, but now you can add items to your basket directly from our homepage! Not only that, but we're happy to introduce a customer account feature. Current mailing list subscribers will be invited to open an account with us and new customers can open one upon checkout. Benefits include a more streamlined checkout on your next purchase and the opportunity to have priority access to our new releases like our Kenefick Ranch Cabernet.
We now have a blog too and we're excited to be able to provide more detailed news on the latest developments at Apsara Cellars. Links to the latest posts can be found on our social media and of course we will still be sending out newsletters to keep you in the loop.
So watch this space because as we have upcoming posts with details of the Kenefick Ranch release as well as harvest updates for 2014.