Thursday, October 6, 2011

Harvest Report: "Fantastic Wine Grape Crop" says Tanner Vineyards (Calaveras County)

Nanette Tanner of Tanner Vineyards, Vallecito, Calaveras County (Sierra Foothills wine region) provides this report:

"Calaveras County whites have begun their wine journey (with reds some weeks behind) to the crush pads throughout the Sierra Foothills and beyond. Mother' nature has taken her time and done her job quite well this year, nurturing the vines and grapes, and giving them a growing season this year that looks more like classic Napa than classic Sierra Foothill weather. But as the saying goes, it ain't over till the fat lady sings! The proof of the pudding this year, will be in the reds. We are singing that familiar tune: Rain Rain go Away!.... and don't come back until harvest is over!

From Alicante Bouchet to Zinfandel, Calaveras County, with all of its micro-climates, hidden valleys, varying soil profiles and elevations, is known for her ability to produce myriad varieties of wine grapes. So far it looks like Mother nature, the fickle matriarch that she is, is rewarding farmers with a fantastic wine grape crop albeit light... if that proverbial last lap to fruition can be reached. On September 17th Tanner Vineyards harvested Viognier, the first white varietal of the 2011 season: a season that growers Dick and Ron Tanner believe could be stellar.

Scientific data is important for record keeping and guidance, but the bottom line when you pick is flavor. Early in the season, brothers Dick and Ron took pediole samples. In one way, these samples act as their 'crystal ball' for farming. Depending on test results, they supplement or cut back where needed, drop fruit etc.. as the season progresses they adjust the canopy by hand with wires designed precisely for this purpose. Opening up the canopy is an expensive viticulture practice - it has to be done in stages and more importantly it has to be done by hand. By hand = by dollars. We baby our grapes up here.

Opening up the canopy allows sunlight and air to get in, where it wouldn't be able to otherwise.  Getting light and air to where it is needed means getting these elements to where they can make a dramatic difference in the final analysis..producing a better wine.

Fast forward to the last 6 weeks of the season...

Walking through the family's vineyard, tasting grapes, brothers Dick and Ron Tanner have begun the task of checking each varietal weekly now, nine in all, and evaluate each one's ripeness by color, skin health, sweetness, flavor, the color darkening (or browning if you will) of the grape's seeds. The overall flavor profile is being carefully tracked- pre-harvest brix and acids are monitored; which is why wine quality predictions for the 2011 year are coming in with very high marks. Keeping our fingers crossed and praying for warm weather!"

ABOUT TANNER VINEYARDS (from their wine club brochure):

 Tanner Vineyards, the story behind the generations…
Tanner siblings Richard, Ronald and Judy, following the footsteps of their great grandfather Angelo Sciaccaluga, planted their vineyard in the spring of 1998. Grandpa Angelo brought his wine making skills to the Mother Lode in the 1860’s. Settling in the small gold rush town of Vallecito, he was the first winemaker in Calaveras County to pay an official  ‘alcohol  tax’.
Fast forward to 2004 when the first Tanner Vineyards label was born. In naming their first vintage, the siblings honored their mother, Jacqueline Rose Tanner with Mélange de Mère;  French for ‘mother’s blend’. This special blend is made from Cabernet Sauvignon,  Syrah and Petit Verdot. Over time the family has added more plant ings with varietals that thrive in the rocky and volcanic soils of their family vineyards. To date they have produced 11 estate grown wines:  Viognier, Vermentino Viognier, Doux Rose, Barbera. Mouvèdre, Syrah, Mélange de Mère, Petit Verdot, Petit Sirah, Cabernet, and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.
Tanner Vineyards
Tasting Room - 202 Main Street, Murphys, CA 95247
(209)728-8229 ph & fax
Business Address - PO Box 21, Vallecito, CA 95251
Open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday!
Closed Tuesday & Wednesday except by appointment.

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