After picking all the Cab Franc and Chambourcin in the last weekend, the process of wine-making began. The first step, is the process of punching down the "cap" that rises to the top of the grape must as it ferments in the primary fermentation tanks. Chris does a fine job of narration as he goes through the process. Suffice it to say that this is a good workout and after 7-10 days we are relieved to transfer the wine into our press and ultimately into tanks and barrels for aging.
Hard to believe that its over! After 5 weeks of crazy busy, we have our 2017 grapes in the tanks. Every year we talk about what a crazy season it has been, and here I go again looking back and wondering how we made it. A spring that started early but cool lead to a perfect, dry flowering and pollination. The Summer was ridiculously wet with 8 inches more than average on the precipitation. It seemed like it rained every Friday night for our Music in the Vines. Then one of the most active tropical seasons I can remember with each storm heading to our East or West. August was crazy wet by PA standards but cleared up perfectly and got hot and dry just in time for harvest. It was perfect the way Harvey, Irmo and Lee found alternative tracks and left us baking in the sun. Our Reds have never looked, tested or tasted better and the quantity matched the quality. It will be very interesting to see our wines in 2-3 years.
Thanks to everyone who helped us pick our grapes. We can't wait to share the results with you next spring.
Our 2017 Harvest is coming down to the wire. We have to beat the latest tropical storm coming up from the Gulf of Mexico so we are putting our final two red wines in the tanks this weekend. Our last two picking events are being organized tonight from 7:00 to 9:00 as a moonlight picking party and tomorrow from 12:00 to 3:00 as our Sunday afternoon "we have to get this done before the storm hits!" If you have time and want to enjoy a glass of wine with us while we pick, stop out, no experience necessary.
Friday, we picked the low wire Cabernet Franc and crushed and pressed the grapes to make our Cab Franc Rose'. Thanks to all the volunteers from the LD 4 Diamonds committee for helping to make the picking a success. We love your enthusiasm and share your passion 4TK.
Tonight we plan to pick the Chambourcin under the light of a full Harvest Moon. The moon rises at 8:10 and although there will be a beautiful moon, please bring a headlamp if you plan on helping us pick. It should be a very relaxing and fun time.
This morning we had a great turnout to pick Cabernet Franc from the high wire on our Scott-Henry pruned vines. The high wire grapes will go into making our premium Cab Franc, Cab Franc Reserve and Winner's Circle Reserve. The grapes were beautiful and we had a great turnout of volunteers who enjoyed their extended time in the vineyard. Thanks to everyone who volunteered.
Tonight and tomorrow we will finish off the Chambourcin. Tonight 7-9:00 and Sunday 12:00 - 3:00 should be perfect to beat the rain!! Lets hope so because we want to finish the last of our harvest in this warm, dry October which came at such a perfect time. Help us if you can!
Thanks to our 30 volunteers who showed up to help pick our 5 tons of Chardonnay this morning. The sun was shining and the grapes looked great.
We had such a nice group and enjoyed the perfect weather. Nothing like sunshine and friendly people to make a monotonous job into a fun event.
The crew on the one side of the vines looked like a million dollars. Thanks to everyone!
And the other side of the row was just as impressive in a different way. These guys got the work done. Thanks giys!
Thanks to everyone and looking forward to our next harvest of Vidal Blanc.
This past weekend marked the begiining of our harvest. Because of the numerous hurricanes including Harvey, Irma and Jusn, we decided to pick safe rather than wait and be sorry. It eas a beautiful day and we enjoyed the help of 35 volunteers who made short work of the grapes and then relaxed and ate some delicious meatballs and tortelini in homemade pasta sauce with concord grape juice.
We plan to take a short break and resume with our Chardonnay grapes in 2 weeks. The schedule may change based on weather, but it looks like this....
Chardonnay on Sat., Sept. 23, 9:00 AM
Vidal Blanc Sat., Oct. 7 9:00 AM
Cab Franc Sat., Oct. 14 and Sun. Oct. 15 9:00 AM
Chambourcin Sat., Oct. 21 9:00 AM
(all dates subject to change follow us on Facebook @ Cassel Vineyards of Hershey for updates)
Its happening 2 weeks later than we expected but the grapes are finally going through their color change known as veraison. That means we need to protect them from the hungry birds! This year the weather was perfect for our work crew. 2 days of sunshine and cool temps allowed us to lay down and secure the nets before the hungry birds found what a tasty treat the sweetening grapes make. Thanks to Lee, Colton, Mach, Loga, Ben, Topher and Elliot for making this years job so easy. What a great crew.
It has been a very wet Summer here in the vineyard. More than 7 inches of rain has kept the vegitation growing and given us a bumper crop of grapes. Our vineyard workers have been working overtime to manage the canopy with the usual crop and leaf thinning and shoot pulling. One thing that is a little different this year is the adjustment we have made in our Scott-Henry trellice system in our Cabernet Frac. This is a vertical split which was fine while the vines were young but now with vines pushing 10 years old and crazy vegitative growth, we have added 2 foot post extensions to facilitate the crop ripening. More vegetation increases the rate that sugars can be produced and ultimately stored in the fruit. This picture shows the extended vine space at the top of each post. Thanks to Lee and Elliot, the vines are perfectly manicured so you can appreciate the view of the extra vertical space.
Here are the normal height Vidal Blanc VSP.
The vineyard is looking great as we head into July. We have thinned our fruit and canopy in preparation for the warm sunshine of July and August. The chambourcin is full of fruit and so is the Vidal Blanc.
The early spring gave us a jump on the season and we escaped by the skin of our teeth on 2 early frosts. The weather has been cool and our plants were growing slow and falling behind but the 90's arrived just in time for the bloom. Things have really jumped in the last 3 weeks.
With less rain, the threat of fungal infection has reduced and now we will just sit back and let it grow. August we will need to begin putting bird nets down and then Sept. and Oct. we will find out what quality our fruit loks like for the 2017 vintage.
Remember our Fri. And Sat. Concerts if you want to come out and see our vines in their full growth. They look beautiful.
This is a picture of the Chardonnay Blooms that now cover the vines in the vineyard.
The vines have been pruned and look beautiful. Yesterday evening we went for a walk with a group of friends through the vineyard and everyone was impressed with the amount of growth that is occurring in the last 5 days as the temperatures have soared. The weather for this weekend is improving so you will be able to join us on Friday, Saturday or Sunday to take a walk in the vineyard. This is a big time for the vineyard owner as we worry about the grapes pollinating and filling out their clusters in order for them to ripen for the fall harvest. Things are looking great because the weather is forecast to be warm and dry throughout this critical period. The last thing we need is a cool rainy stretch throughout this important time. Stop by and enjoy the weather and the vineyard. It looks great and the beauty is all around you.