Thursday, October 6, 2011

Nevada/Washoe County NV - Harvest Notes

This succinct harvest report from Grant R. Cramer, Professor and head of the wine program at University of Nevada, Reno, where a small demonstration vineyard exists.  Lots of eager UNV students and home winemakers in Washoe County are learning about Nevada wines via full-time classes and Dr Cramer's Tuesday evening tasting program.

We harvested our first grapes, Gewurztraminer on Tuesday, October 4.

We harvested Pinot Noir today (October 6).

11 more varieties to go!

More about this UNR program:

There’s a groundswell of interest building in Nevada wines, and this is in part due to the work being done by Dr. Grant Cramer  at University of Nevada-Reno, and in part by intrepid vintners and winemakers in Fallon and Genoa.  Here's  a glimpse at the wonderful work in UNR.  
What can be done on 2 acres of vineyards in arid Reno?  A lot.  That’s being proven by Dr. Cramer’s eonology  and viticulture crew.  Each Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m., you too are invited to the wine tasting and study at UNR's Experimental Winery.  It is in a blue metal building behind the NV genomics center at 910 Valley Road, Reno.  When the sliding gate is open, go on in.
In the winery, you’ll find 30-40 folding chairs set up on the winery floor, and a smiling Dr. Cramer and his student assistants.  No doubt you will be greeted by Kitty Spreeman, an extremely knowledgeable lab technician who makes it all run smoothly.  Take a seat as near to the front table as you can.  Pay your $10 class fee,  and take a little extra cash because you’ll no doubt want a Nevada Wines baseball cap or polo shirt.  Barbar Keck did, and she's proud to wear it too!
Settle in for a wonderful tasting experience of 12-14 different bottles each week.  The Experimental Winery makes its own wines and blends right there on site.  They have a “library” of wines going back to 2003, and they often do vertical tastings of the same wine from different years, and  comparisons of wines from well-(sufficiently)-watered vines and drought-stressed vines.  Sometimes the event features blind tastings or comparisons to commercial wines.  Regardless of what you taste, you’ll be asked to fill out a tasting sheet so that the Winery can collect evaluation data of the wines as they age.
The wines are all estate wines; they come from grapes planted as long ago as 1995 on the two acres on Valley Road at the Agricultural Experiment Station.   The wines made include reds such as Pinot Noir, Lemberger,  Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet  Sauvignon, and Pinot Meunier,  and whites, such as Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Semillion, and Sauvignon Blanc .
The vineyard is itself an experiment.  Vines are growing under conditions of well-water, and drought-stressed.  There is an ongoing study to see if drought-stressed vines increase the amount of resveratrol, which is now considered to be a heart-healthy element of red wines.  Resveratrol might be a key ingredient in red wine that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces "bad" cholesterol and prevents blood clots,”  says a news note from the Mayo Clinic.   The grapes from these vines at UNR are tested for many things (Phenolics, brix) and the buds of the vines undergo scrutiny too, including testing for different hormone levels.  It’s all very sexy for the wine lover!

If you want to taste these wines, you must come to the Winery.  By Nevada law, the college is not allowed to sell its wines in Washoe County.    In addition to tasting these types of Nevada wines, you’ll be treated to a discussion on such topics as pruning and trellis design in the vineyard, and vineyards of the world.

Dr Cramer, Kitty and the crew would love to see you there!  For more information, go to  Or email  Kitty Spreeman for more information:
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© 2010 Barbara Keck

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