With Harvest 2017 in the books, winemaking has shifted from picking and processing to fermenting and tasting. Right now wine is developing in about 80 different tanks on the estate. In addition to the Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir that Oregon and King Estate are best known for, Head Winemaker Brent Stone is looking forward to trying some new wines from different varietals. For the winemaking team, this is where the art of winemaking comes into play, along with some play itself.
“We are waiting to see how they develop and then we’ll start playing around with them,” Brent says with a smile of anticipation. Brent and CEO Ed King are especially excited about a grand experiment under way with white blends from the Alsace region in France known for its Noble Grape varietals: Gewurtztraminer, Muscat, Riesling and Pinot Gris. The grapes are being fermented, both together (co-fermentation) and separately, with blending decisions to come after some trials, talk and tasting. This will be one of the first wines we’ve made following Biodynamic® winemaking practices using native fermentation. While our vineyard and winery have been Biodynamic since the fall of 2016, when we received our certification from Demeter USA, this is the first time some of our wines have also been produced in accordance with Biodynamic standards.
In another first, King Estate is producing a sparkling wine made exclusively from our own estate-grown fruit. Grapes intended for sparkling wine are picked early in the harvest – in this case in late September 2017 – when the acid is high and before it develops too much sugar. The wine won’t be released until 2021. The process for making sparkling wine is long and highly specialized, and will be the subject of an upcoming blog.
Other surprises in the works include some small-case productions using white varietals such as Pinot Blanc and Marsanne-Rousanne from the Rogue Valley in southern Oregon. And from Quintessence, our new vineyard partner established in 2010 in Washington’s Red Mountain AVA, we have procured some outstanding grapes to make about 200 cases of Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine region is generating a lot of buzz for the excellence of its red wine grapes and we are excited to see what develops. Other grapes from eastern Washington including Tempernillo, Cabernet Franc and Merlot are also being evaluated for use in finished blends.
One reason wine is so endlessly fascinating is that it is never the same, always reflecting the year just past, the site and, last but not least, the winemakers. Right now they are working to bring you wines to enjoy for years to come. We can’t wait for you to taste them, but wait we must. In the meantime, enjoy a delicious bottle from the cellar.