11/14/2009 4:22:00 PM Valley's wine harvest is mixed bottle
The harvest is over. The leaves have changed. And most of the juice is making its magic transformation from grape juice into wine. Reflections on this year's Verde Valley wine harvest range from good to great with a little unwanted rain and frost mixed in.
A late season frost took its toll on some of the vines in low-lying areas, particularly along Oak Creek in the Page Springs area.
VERDE VALLEY - This year's wine harvest was a mixed bag ... or was it a bottle?
As far as quantity is concerned it appears that increase in the number of vines now producing more than offset losses from a spring frost and late rains.
All those newly producing vines will also translate into more wines from the Verde Valley that can carry a label claiming the wine is estate bottled -- a term that means all the wine in the bottle is from grapes grown in the winery's vineyards.
In the world of wine, it is the estate-bottled vintage that brings fame and fortune to a winery as well as a wine-growing region.
As for the quality of this year's product ... all indications are it was a good to great year. But only time will tell.
Winemaker and owner of Javalina Leap Vineyard in Page Springs, Rod Snapp, who has waited eight years since purchasing his property and four since plating his vines, harvested his first three tons of Zinfandel grapes this fall.
"After so long it almost seems anticlimactic. But it's not. Honestly, we are excited to have our first estate wines in the barrel," Snapp says.
Javalina Leap produced some estate bottled Barbera from vines on the adjoining Cielo Vista Vineyards last year.
"That was the first estate wine from the neighborhood," Snapp says. "And from the accolades it received, it gives us confidence that the Zinfandel is also going to be excellent."
Alcantara Vineyards & Winery on the Verde River produced about 15 tons this year, a 25 percent increase over last year, but not the 20 tons they figured on.
"Our total crop was about what we had expected, but we had hoped for more," says owner Bob Predmore. "We had actually pared off some of the grapes in order to get a better quality crop.
"But a rain in early September impacted our harvest schedule and consequently our yield. And the birds got a lot. But all in all we are very pleased with the net results."
Alcantara is currently producing estate bottled merlot, sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio and a blend of their best grapes they call Confluence.
Eric Glomski, owner of Page Springs Winery and a partner in vineyards in Southern Arizona, was also impacted by the weather, not so much rain as an early frost.
"In southeastern Arizona we had an absolutely phenomenal vintage. Zero rain and perfect ripening conditions. But up here was more challenging. We had a pretty significant spring frost that at the estate vineyard in Page Springs took out about 60 percent of our grapes," Glomski says.
However, Glomski notes that the lack of monsoon rains and an overall good growing season were factors in the growers' favor.
"Had it not been for the frost, it would have been an incredible vintage for us," Glomski says. "What I will say is we made small quantities of good wines."
In addition to the excitement over this year's harvest, many of the vineyards have reason to be excited after being judged in a statewide competition among Arizona wine makers. Although the results won't be made public until Nov. 22, rumor has it the Verde Valley made an excellent showing.
"I can't give out the details," Predmore says, "but I can tell you Northern Arizona winemakers did very well. We got more than our fair share of medals."
Posted: Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Article comment by:
We recently purchased a home in Cornville (VSF) and are very excited about the vintage news in Page Springs and Verde Valley areas. I'm a small -at home- wine and brandy maker myself, so this makes me real happy. Can't wait to taste this years crop.