Our medals arrived today, just as a few members of team Barren Ridge headed down to Richmond to attend the 2015 Governor’s Cup Gala! We are thrilled to announce that all six of the wines we entered into this year’s competition were awarded medals!
Our 2010 Meritage led the pack this year with a gold medal, followed by our Vidal Blanc, Viognier, and Harmony (all 2013s) with silver medals, and our 2012 Petit Verdot and 2013 Red Barren with bronze medals.
Stop by the tasting room and try them all for yourself!
Between Sunsets at the Vineyard with Bootsie Daniels on Friday night and Music for MaDee all day Sunday, we had possibly our most eventful weekend of the summer a few days ago. We hope you were able to join us for one if not both events–we think a terrific time was had by all!
A huge thank you to everyone who helped make these events possible: Bootsie and his band for providing entertainment on Friday; Diane and the staff of Mama’s Caboose for providing delicious food on both Friday and Sunday; the four bands who entertained us on Sunday: Lisa Miller, Who Shot John, City Limits, and Maybe Tomorrow; and Tamara Talley-Campbell and all of the volunteers with The MaDee Project for organizing Sunday’s event; and all the guests who joined us for great music, food, wine, dancing, views, and time with friends and family.
We said goodbye yesterday to one of our stars here at Barren Ridge–Tom (pictured above in the hat, at the outside bar on Friday night) started working for us last summer in our Tasting Room and has been an integral part of the Barren Ridge team over the past year, whenever his busy schedule allowed. Until his graduation this spring, Tom was also a full-time student at Hampden-Sydney (John’s alma mater, too!) but would make the long trek to Barren Ridge, even while school was in session, to help us with busy weekends and weddings. Tom has also helped Marty, Mark, and Jessi in both vineyard and winery as needed. We are very sorry to be losing him, but so excited for his next steps, too. He’s headed for the west coast to pursue a master’s degree at UC Davis in–you guessed it–viticulture and enology! We are glad to have been the jumping off point for Tom’s winemaking journey and look forward to following his career in the future.
Last but not least, please note that our gold-medal-winning 2009 Meritage is now sold out, but the 2010 Meritage is waiting for you on the shelf in our Tasting Room. Just in time for the return of Fall, when we start craving big, spicy/jammy/earthy/oaky reds again–try it out with your next special occasion dinner. Or be like us and pour it just to toast the approach of Harvest 2014, now only about three weeks away, according to Jessi. Stay tuned for lots of news from the Crush Pad!
Live jazz on the patio, fireflies flickering, your favorite wine flowing as you kick back with friends and watch the sun set over the mountains…what better way to start the weekend?
Before you pack your picnic basket tomorrow, check out a sample menu from Delicious Dishe. Crawfish & Shrimp Beignets? YUM!
A few days ago, I was upstairs in the winery, in my office, chained to my desk, eyes glazing over from too much time spent staring at the computer. Jessi, our new winemaker, was talking about her crop estimation experiment that she and Mark have been working on, and I perked up and asked her if she and Mark would take me on a little tour of the vineyard. And of course they were willing to. You should come with us; Mark’s waiting to give us a ride on the Gator…
Only first he has to take an urgent call on a pink cell phone. Probably from Rascal.First we looked at the two acres of Petit Verdot, which Mark described as, so far, a “perfect crop.” Petit Verdot fans, rejoice!Then we took a look at the Merlot, which is also doing nicely. We had thought we lost a pile of it to frost damage earlier in the year, but the vines have bounced back really well. The Viognier will probably be a lighter crop than we had hoped for, thanks to frost, but the Vidal Blanc, Chambourcin, and Touriga are all looking good so far. Mark and Jessi hopped off the Gator periodically to look at the leaves and tiny berries and check them for signs of all kinds of things: bugs, pecking from birds, diseases like downy mildew or botrytis, even sunburn. Mark also trimmed back secondary clusters as he saw them. The primary shoots develop first and produce the best grapes–secondary clusters (appropriately named) grow later, are smaller, and are not the most efficient use of the vine’s energy. All of our crop for winemaking will come from the primary clusters.Jessi and Mark would also break open a few of the berries to see how hard the seeds are. At a certain stage of grape development, the seeds go from being so soft you can squish them between your fingers to being hard enough that you can’t cut them in half even with a knife. Here we have Jessi checking out a Chambourcin berry. We’re not quite there yet; Mark was able to cut the seeds in this grape with his fingernail. At that stage where the seeds have just hardened, the grapes are about half the weight of what we expect them to weigh when they’re ready to harvest. So by weighing several clusters from several different vines at this stage, and figuring out the average number of clusters per vine, Jessi can come up with a relatively accurate estimation of the crop yield she’ll wind up with come harvest (from our vineyards at least). This is helpful information for a number of reasons. It’s not easy to figure out how many barrels to buy in advance if you don’t know how many tons of grapes you’ll be bringing in, for example.It’s also handy because, as mentioned earlier, Jessi and Mark are trying an experiment this year to determine whether a lighter crop will yield noticeably better wine. They are dividing up our Chambourcin vines (for the Red Barren fans out there, this grape makes up most of the Red Barren blend each year), and trying to get 2 tons per 1/2 acre out of one section of vines, and four tons per 1/2 acre out of the other. In theory, the 2-tons-per-1/2-acre crop should produce better wine because the vines can pour more energy and resources into developing fewer clusters…sort of like parents (theoretically) spoiling only children. We’ll see what happens!
In the meantime, we’re looking forward to a great harvest in September! Stay tuned!