Stag's Hollow Winery News
Welcome to the Stag's Hollow blog. We will be highlighting articles that feature our wines, awards won, events that are happening at the winery as well as wine education features.
Given the epic heat wave we experienced in the summer of 2021, we were prepared for an extra-early start to harvest. As a surprise to everyone, though, the first of our fruit wasn’t harvested until September 10th; one of our later start dates in recent years. Gotta love that hurry-up and wait! We think this is due to the fact that the majority of our vines are very well-established, and therefore less inclined to be affected by extreme temperatures. We toasted to the new harvest and blessed our first bin of estate-grown Muscat Ottonel with a sprinkling of last year’s Muscat Frizzante.
Despite the leisurely start, the remainder of the harvest season flew by in a blur, and we were finished nearly a whole month earlier than usual. A much more condensed (and intense!) harvest than we’re used to. Thanks to our incredibly hard-working cellar crew, their long hours of cleaning, sorting, pressing, stomping, more cleaning, punching-down, pumping-over, forklifting, racking, tasting, inoculating, evaluating, and—oh yeah!—even more cleaning, we’ve been able to produce some of the most delicious and exciting wines to date. Our vineyard team’s hard work throughout the season really paid off, as despite there being less fruit than usual, the quality across the board was exceptional. It makes our job in the cellar a lot easier when the fruit looks that good. It was (and always is) a labour of love, and we are so excited for our wine club family to be the first to try the newest releases from this exceptional vintage.
Keira LeFranc, Winemaker
Now that the last of the reds have officially been pressed off, we’re able to catch our breath in the cellar and reflect on this year’s harvest...
They say that every vintage is different, and each comes with its own set of unique challenges; after this year, I’d have to agree. Last year's long, drawn-out harvest was a lesson in patience - a hard-learned lesson for me - but one that proved invaluable. This year, we didn’t have the luxury of patience, but instead we were dealt a lesson in adaptability. Challenging vintages, like the one we’ve just had, remind us that vintage variation should not be used as an excuse for lesser wines, but rather as a challenge to winemakers to adapt their practices to suit the fruit they get, with the goal of making the best wines possible, irrespective of year. With ideal weather, wine is made in the vineyard, with winemakers having to do relatively little to craft exceptional wines. It’s the poorer weather years that separate wineries through their vineyard practices. It is also these years that really allow the winemaking team to show off their skills. Exceptional wines that come out of these years are made all the more satisfying knowing the hard work that has gone into them. This year is one of those years and we couldn’t be more excited about what we’ve been able to create.
The spring and summer leading up to harvest were as close to ideal as you could ask for. Moderate temperatures set us on track for gradual, even ripening across all of our vineyards - Mother Nature had a few tricks up her sleeve for us, though. An uncharacteristically wet and cool September slowed things down, and then a frosty start to October brought on a bit of a mad rush to bring everything into the cellar all at once. Luckily for us, our hard-working and meticulous vineyard team set us up for success early, by reducing crop loads, and staying on top of disease and rot pressure. While much of the valley was battling rot and mildew, we were extremely lucky to be relatively unaffected by it. We had little work to do on the sorting table as the quality of the fruit was surprisingly beautiful! As we aren’t used to having the majority of our fruit come in all at once, we had to get a bit creative with tank space. Heads were popped off barrels and picking bins were stolen from the vineyard so that we could use them as make-shift fermenters. I think at one point we had about 35 individual red ferments going (that’s a LOT of punch-downs!) Having so many small vessels for fermentation actually allowed us to divide parcels into more batches than usual. This allowed us to experiment with different techniques and play around with variables in a way that will give us many options when it comes time to blend our wines. As usual, we have a few new projects up our sleeves and we were also able to work with a few new-to-us varieties (just to keep things interesting!) I can’t wait to share these wines with everyone... there are some really special things happening in the cellar!
For now, though, we are waiting patiently, with our fingers crossed, for some perfect Icewine picking weather!