Frontenac grapes - during a good growing season
While talking with our winemaker Robin Partch we got to discussing our 2011 harvest and how much better it will be than 2010. If you remember last spring at all, you’ll know that April was gorgeous, much the opposite of this year really.
April of 2010 was beautiful, warm and everything started budding early and looked promising, but our grape-growers were worried. And for good reason, we live in Minnesota and mother nature is pretty unpredictable here. Mother’s Day weekend 2010 we had a killing frost that wiped out much of our harvest for the year. We were able to rely on some of the secondary buds on the vines, but these are never as ripe or as plentiful as primary buds.
2011 is adding up to be a pretty darn good grape year for us. For example, Robin has a 1 acre vineyard near Stillwater, Minnesota. He grows Edelweiss, Frontenac, Prairie Star and Louise Swenson grapes. Last year he only harvested 600 pounds of grapes, equaling an 80% crop failure due to the frost in May. However, this year already he is predicting to harvest 10 times as much! He is estimating a minimum of a 6,000 pound grape harvest in his vineyard in 2011. What a difference a year makes!
Do you ever find sediment in your wine bottles? That sediment or sludge as I’ve heard it referred too, is Tartaric acid. Tartaric acid is an organic acid in grapes and when the grapes are made into wine, the acid will crystallize. Experienced wine drinkers often refer to these crystals as “Wine Diamonds” or “Tartrates.”
Courtesy of Wes Partch
Winemakers around the globe use a process called cold stabilization to ensure that the wine will not drop tartrates. This won’t change the composition of the wine, but will make it look good on the shelf and cause less confusion to the average wine drinker.
Some of our wines at Northern Vineyards have tartrates because we do not have the cold stabilization equipment. We try to use the weather to cold stabilize our wines. We do have “cold room” and we also have a deck that we put our wine out on in the winter. The trouble with using the weather is that we cannot guarantee that it will be consistently below freezing for two weeks. You would think that living in Minnesota we could, but such is not the case.
You may be wondering what to do with a wine with tartrates. Well you can do nothing as those tartrates are harmless and tasteless. However, if you prefer to not have them in your glass, simply use a decanter with a filter or a pourer with a filter. This will prevent the tartrates from getting in your glass.
So the next time you see those crystals in your wine, you can tell your friends about “Wine Diamonds.” You may also be surprised to know that those little crystals are most likely sitting on your spice shelf in your kitchen. You know them as Cream of Tartar.
As wine becomes more and more popular, more and more wineries are creating Wine Clubs for their customers. Joining your favorite winery’s Wine Club makes sense. Many small wineries do not charge annual fees to be a member of their wine club and you will typically receive exclusive discounts on the wines as an incentive to join.
The advantage of being a part of a winery’s wine club is not only to receive discounts, but many wine clubs also offer exclusive Wine Club Member Only events. Many also make wine only for members that you would otherwise not be able to purchase. It’s an easy and exciting way to stay on top of “what’s new” at your favorite wineries. Most wineries have a selection of offerings, whether it be different bottle quantities, or style of wine preferred. Each winery’s club is unique and will offer you something different.
At Northern Vineyards we have three levels, Gold, Platinum and Diamond level. Our wine club members receive discounts, invitations to exclusive Wine Club Member Only events and more! Once you are a member of our wine club, for every person you refer to our wine club who signs up, you will receive one free shipment of equal value. Check out our wine club information on our website for more details or click the link for a wine club application!
As we head into late spring and summer Northern Vineyards hosts a variety of events. We have wine tasting during any of our store hours. We do barrel tasting, live music, art exhibits and host a variety of private parties.
Party set up on the deck
We host live music on our deck overlooking the scenic St. Croix River and historic lift bridge. Guests can enjoy wine by the glass or by the bottle on the deck any time that we are open. You are also welcome to bring in your own picnic. Very occasionally is the deck closed for a private event, but it is always a good idea to check that it is open. Our music schedule begins Sunday, May 1st and goes each Sunday evening from 7-9pm through the end of September. We are proud to be a venue that hosts a variety of local musicians. You’ll find The Galactic Cowboy Orchestra, Scottie Miller, George Faber, James Moors and a variety of other musicians playing on the deck at Northern Vineyards!