Harvest is well underway! The Fall is always a busy time of year on the North Fork and this season is no different! Long Island is currently rounding the corner on the white and rosé harvest with winemakers beginning to turn their eyes towards the red harvest.
At Suhru we have completed our sparkling harvest with the juice for our Brut as well as our Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc picked, harvested, and fermenting away in the winery. Our attention has turned to our Rosé and Riesling grapes which are being picked this week, and will be inoculated and begin their fermentation in the coming days followed by our red varietals which will all be harvested by the end of October.
This is one of our favorite times of the year, as this is when all the action happens at the winery! Over the next few months we will be keeping you up-to-date on the Blog and on our social media account (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and TikTok) on whats happening in the winery and the vineyard during the 2021 Harvest, so stay tuned and follow along!
What's Happening at the Winery
Inoculations and fermentations are the topic of the day in the winery. The cellar crew has been busy settling, racking, filtering, and fermenting our white and rosé wines. This time of year, the winery team at Premium Wine Group is working diligently round the clock (literally, they work 3 shifts, 20+ hours a day, 7 days a week) to ensure that our freshly picked grapes turn into wine! The crush pad is a constant flurry of activity with grapes being harvested across the East End daily! Read more about Premium Wine Group, where we make our wines in Newsday.
A Note from Winemaker Russell Hearn
Whites and rosé have been harvested, and we are looking ahead to the red harvest. All the whites are looking good. We're especially excited about the quality of this year's Sauvignon Blanc which was picked last week and has begun fermentation.
A good vineyard team is essential to a winemaker's ability to make high quality wines as your vineyard manager has eyes on the vines and is in the vineyard every day. In addition to my regular visits, I am getting regular reports from the vineyard managers from the dozen vineyards we work with and conducting berry analysis to evaluate the ripeness of the grapes to determine when they are ready to be harvested. There is a lot that can be discerned about a grape's ripeness by sight and taste, but nothing beats lab analysis. We are carefully watching our Teroldego and Shiraz vineyards, two of our earliest ripening reds and the next to be harvested.
At this point, we are watching the weather, hoping for favorable forecasts including, sun, warm days and less rain then we have been seeing recently for optimal ripening!
Learn More About What's Happening at Suhru
With temperatures dropping and leaves beginning to turn our minds often turn to red wines, while there are many fantastic reds out there to choose from, one of our favorite Fall wines is Dry Riesling, which is this October's Wine of the Month!
Rieslings and Dry Rieslings specifically are excellent Fall wines because they offer the perfect balance of fruitiness, acidity, and sweetness making them wonderful food pairing wines, specifically with all of the classic dishes we associate with Fall here in the US, think butternut squash, Thanksgiving turkey, apple pie, and more!
A Closer Look at the Vineyard
At Suhru Wines we source our fruit, meaning that we work with vineyards across the North Fork of Long Island and one in the Finger Lakes to ensure we get the highest level of quality fruit for our wines. We choose to source our Riesling fruit from the Finger Lakes because their climate allows them to grow the best Riesling fruit in New York state and some of the best in the world!
While a cold region, the Finger Lakes are able to successfully grow vinifera grape varietials because their proximity to a large body of water (same with us here on Long Island) acts to regulate the temperature. The Finger Lakes are very deep and due to their size retain heat, meaning that vines planted close to the water enjoy moderate temperatures. The lakes warm the surrounding land, preventing roots from freezing during cold winters and protecting vines against sudden spring freezes and late frosts. Excellent drainage is also very important to grape vines and the Finger Lakes boast shale soils on the hillsides leading down to the lake making it an ideal growing environment.
We have been working with the Vineyards at Dalrymple Farms for several years now. Dalrymple vineyards mature under the careful eye of second-generation grape growers, who have been tending vines in the Finger Lakes region of New York since the early 1960’s. A balance of experience and technology allows Bill Dalrymple to grow some of the best varietals in the region.
Utilizing the resources provided by the Viticulture Department of Cornell University, Dalrymple is experimenting with the ‘Dosavina’ program to further enhance its efforts in environmental responsibility. ‘Dosavina’ allows growers’ to measure necessary vineyard treatments by leaf count instead of acreage. This reduces spray applications by 33% while maintaining the quality of the fruit grown. Suhru Wines is proud to be partnered with Dalrymple Farms and their Eco-friendly practices.
A Closer Look at our Dry Riesling
Made entirely in stainless steel tanks to accentuate the minerality of the wine, our 2019 Dry Riesling retains a zingy vibrant acidity. Double Gold and 96pt score winner at the 2021 International Eastern Wine Competition, this pale yellow wine has bold, bright aromatics and rich notes of honey and apricot and crisp notes of clementine, honey dew melon, white peach, musk pear, and starfruit on the palate. An excellent sipping wine, the crisp acidity means it pairs wonderfully with a wide range of dishes including seafood, Asian cuisines, dry-rub barbecue, Fall produce, turkey, duck, and spicier dishes.
In 2019 the Finger Lakes—where this fruit was grown—saw a more vigorous growing season than years past, with more "sun or degree" days at the vineyard. As a result, the grapes ripened earlier resulting in riper fruit while the pH remained low, the ideal scenario when it comes to white wines. Therefore our 2019 Dry Riesling has a slightly higher residual sugar than years past. This exceptional wine is drinking beautifully at the moment and will only continue to improve with age (yes Rieslings are a white wine that can age!).
Learn More About our 2019 Dry Riesling
We are thrilled to announce the release of our 2020 Teroldego! Our second vintage of this varietal, this highly anticipated small batch wine boasts bright red fruit notes and fine tannins with a bright acidity on the finish making this an extremely food friendly wine.
Teroldego is a lesser known Northern Italian varietal (best known as the nephew of an old French variety that was the parent of Syrah) and is a rarity on the North Fork and in the US. Want to learn more about this grape? Checkout "History of the Grape: Teroledgo" on the Suhru Blog!
A Note from Winemaker Russell Hearn
2020 Teroldego is our second release of this variety and one I am very pleased with. In 2020 the growing season wasn't as warm as we saw in 2019, so as a result we saw the 2020 vintage be more fruit forward and a little lighter in tannin structure. The elegant harmony of fruit and silky soft tannin makes this wine shine.
One of the benefits of working with an earlier ripening red variety, such as Teroldego, in our region is that even in a cooler than normal growing year, like 2020, it still ripens beautifully. In 2019 we blended a small amount of Petit Verdot into our Teroldego to add to the tannic structure and help support the length of the finish. There will not be any 2020 Petit Verdot bottled from any winery on the North Fork. It is the last varietal to ripen in our area and the East End saw a cold spell at the end of October in 2020 that resulted in late harvest reds not finishing ripening on the vine. As a result we have imparted a few different winemaking techniques with the 2020 vintage focusing on barrel aging rather than blending to support the tannins and add length to the finish.
2020 Teroldego Tasting Notes
An enticing rich purple, this unique red wine has aromas of red rose petals, red currant, and red raspberry that abound from the glass. The pallet has bright red fruit notes including raspberry, red cherry and anise with savory hints of slate and oyster shell on the finish. The fine tannins and bright acidity on the finish make this an extremely food friendly wine.
Learn More About our 2020 Teroldego
Harvest has arrived on the North Fork! While we are yet to begin harvesting our vineyards, a number of wineries across Long Island are busy bringing in fruit for their sparkling wines!
This is one of our favorite times of the year as this is when all the action happens at the winery! Over the next few months we will be keeping you up-to-date on the Blog and on our Instagram account on everything going on in the winery and the vineyard during the 2021 Harvest!
What's Happening in the Vineyard
In the vineyards, Russell is carefully watching the grapes and monitoring their sugar content (Brix) which is used to determine the grapes ripeness to determine when to pick our grapes. He is regularly walking the vineyards, inspecting the grapes, speaking to the vineyard managers, and testing the grapes. As we get closer to picking he will be carefully monitoring the weather. The goal is always to harvest grapes after several dry days. Whenever possible you want to avoid harvesting shortly after a rain as the grapes will be bloated with water they absorbed.
A Note from Winemaker Russell Hearn
The Fall weather pattern is starting to take hold which is a welcome change from the hot and humid spell we had in August coupled with two Tropical Storms bringing heavy rains to the North Fork. The warmth in August has continued to push forward grape development especially in the earlier ripening varieties. I am taking berry samples of our earlier ripening varieties this week to see where we are as far as sugar and ripeness. This week we are harvesting the Chardonnay for our Brut and our Pinot Grigio.
The 2021 growing season has been a bit of a roller coaster with a cool spring to start off the growing season followed by a beautiful June and first half of July shifting into a hot and humid second half of July through August. While the last few months have given us a ride, it always comes down to the next 6-7 weeks weather patterns that will determine the quality of the vintage. Our vineyard blocks are in as good a shape as they can be right now, so fingers crossed for warm dry, sunny days with no humidity in these coming weeks!
Our first Cabernet Franc under the Suhru label, we are very excited to share this much anticipated new wine! This classic expression of a cool climate Cabernet Franc has a rich garnet hue, with bright fruit and notes of black currant, raspberry, and a hint of anise on the nose. This bold red has a nice mid palate with notes of mocha and cocoa, fine lingering tannins and a light smokiness on the finish with the slightest hint of vanilla.
This varietal 2019 Cabernet Franc is blended with 12% Teroldego and 6% Merlot to enhance the fruit and body of the wine. The three varieties were each fermented in open top tanks and punched down during their time on skins. The goal being to extract color and tannin without the astringency, before pressing to retain the vibrant fruit notes. The wine is then aged for 14 months in a combination of Hungarian and French oak.
In 2019 we saw a very nice growing season and were very happy with the fruit intensity and ripe tannin structure of this wine. Cabernet Franc grows beautifully on the North Fork of Long Island and the 2019 harvest was no exception. In the last several years we have seen this varietal continue to receive critical acclaim and rightly so. Russell, our winemaker, has seen dramatic changes to the perception of Cabernet Franc during his winemaking career. He made his first stand alone varietal Cabernet Franc at Pellegrini Vineyards in 1994 from vines that were originally planted to be used for blending rather than for a stand alone varietal wine. Since then Cabernet Franc has grown to be a staple of Long Island. Russell (and the whole Suhru family) are very happy to share Suhru’s first vintage of Cabernet Franc (and his 26th vintage of Cab Franc as a Long Island winemaker). We hope you enjoy it!
This beautiful, bold red will pair wonderfully with rich, fuller meals such as roasted pork, turkey, stews, tomato based sauces, lamb, and roasted duck. An excellent cheese wine, try with brie, goat and bleu cheeses!
Learn More About our 2019 Cabernet Franc!
With Labor Day upon us and a cool Fall chill creeping into the air we find ourselves trading in a chilled glass of white for a richer, deeper red. One of our favorite Fall wines is Shiraz! This beautiful light to medium bodied red has nice soft flavors with a hint of spice which bring to mind cool days traipsing through a pumpkin patch, and sweater weather!
Whether you are looking for a wine to enjoy after a long day at work, a glass to pair with a fall meal complete with richer meats and fall vegetables, or simply a wine to enjoy while watching the leaves change, a bottle of Shiraz is always a great choice!
Shiraz vs Syrah, What's the Difference?
At Suhru Wines we make a Shiraz as opposed to a Syrah. Two different styles of the same grape variety, generally speaking Syrah is made in the Northern hemisphere, specifically France’s Rhône Valley, whereas you tend to find winemaking regions producing Shiraz style wines in the Southern hemisphere, mainly in Australia. Given that our winemaker, Russell Hearn, is Australian we are making a Shiraz here at Suhru!
Shirazes are known for being rich, lush, riper, and more fruit-forward wines that are typically made in warm climates, although they are made in several cool climates across the globe, including the Margaret River Region in Western Australia as well as the North Fork of Long Island. Cool climate Shirazes and Syrahs tend to have brighter acidity and bright red fruit notes.
A Closer Look at Suhru Shiraz
A rarity in the United States, our cool climate Shiraz pays homage to winemaker Russell Hearn's native country Australia. This expressive wine has rich red fruit aromas with a hint of cardamom. The raspberry and cherry notes flow onto the palate with appealing cola flavors carrying through to the finish. With super soft, elegant tannins, a bright finish, and a light hint of oak, the 2019 is sure to please! Fermented in open top tanks, our 2019 Shiraz juice spent 10-12 days in contact with the grape skins before being pressed, allowing for the bold flavor and rich color. The wine was then transferred into barrel where it is aged for 6 months in American oak. The 2019 vintage is 93% Syrah and 7 % Teroldego.
Want to Learn more about this wine? Checkout our 2019 Shiraz!
The results from the 2021 Finger Lakes International Wine & Spirits Competition are in and we are proud to be boasting several new medals! We received three Gold Medals for our NV Brut, 2020 Rosé, and our soon-to-be-released 2020 Sauvignon Blanc as well as a handful of other medals.
One of our most decorated wines, our NV Brut currently boasts a Gold medal and 92pt score at the 2021 International Eastern Wine Competition, a 91pt score from Wine & Spirits Magazine, and the most recent addition of a Gold medal at the 2021 Finger Lakes International Wine & Spirits Competition! This delicious méthode champenoise style sparkling wine is crisp, bright and refreshing with hints of fuji pear and brioche on the nose, giving way to crisp honey crisp apples and notes of graham cracker with a hint of creamy richness and a delicate, crisp finish.
Our most recent release and a wine that is quickly becoming a crowd favorite, our 2020 Rosé has also collected a few accolades in the last month including and Gold medal and 91pt score from the 2021 Experience Rosé Competition as well as Gold at the 2021 Finger Lakes International Wine & Spirits Competition. A soft summer sipper, this Provencal style rosé has subtle aromatics with hints of watermelon and carnations on the nose and notes of raspberry, quince, and starfruit on the palate giving way to soft, round flavors and a nice brightness on the finish.
2020 Sauvignon Blanc (Coming Soon)
Winner of a Silver medal at the 2021 International Eastern Wine Competition and a Gold medal at the 2021 Finger Lakes International Wine & Spirits Competition, this soon-to-be-release 2020 Sauvignon Blanc has lively, bright fruit notes! This crisp, dry wine has notes of lime and pear. A soft minerality and subtle richness define this wine showcasing the distinctive characteristics of the varietal.
The 2021 Growing Season is progressing nicely. After a slow start to the season with a cool May, we have since had plenty of heat and sunshine. Crop levels look solid across all varieties and I am happy with the vine size related to crop levels. Up until fruit set it is all about vegetative growth (shoots and leaves) whereas from late June onwards it is about reproductive growth (fruit). The goal is to direct all the energy from photosynthesis towards ripening the grapes rather than growing more leaves or longer shoots. Hopefully Mother Nature will be kind to us in the coming 12 weeks as she is in charge of what happens until the fruit is harvested, despite all our efforts in the field.
Since mid June (post fruit set) this is the most intensive time of the growing year. The warm weather and higher than usual amounts of rain mean that we are seeing higher than normal vine growth this season. All of this rapid growth has required two movements of the catch wires (which hold the 'shoots' vertical) versus the one that we typically do during this time.
In addition we 'hedge' after fruit set, which is cutting off the ends of shoots that have grown too long above the posts and are drooping down (disease control and shading the fruit below).
Once this is done, leaves in the fruit zone (12-15" vertically around the clusters) are removed first by machine then by hand to expose the grape clusters to sunlight. This is done to allow all of the vines' energy to focus on ripening the grapes. By opening up access to the grape clusters it also ensures improved spray coverage as well as air movement. This reduces the humidity around the clusters which can lead to fungal growth on the fruit.
Now that the leaves have been removed from the fruit zone, crop counts (cluster counting) is performed to ascertain the expected yield for each variety per acre. Based on these numbers, some 'green harvesting' (cutting excessive clusters off) is sometimes performed to reduce the total quantity of fruit, bringing it to the correct level to ensure the vines are able to fully ripen the fruit. All of these activities need to happen in a 5-6 week period before bird netting is applied at the beginning of August. It is a blur of activity.
Summer months call for crisp, bright, refreshing white wines during the day and bold, rich, full-bodied reds to pair with BBQ or sip around the fire at night. Our Ember is just such a wine, crafted with summer evenings around the bonfire in mind!
As soon as June turns to July I find myself reaching for a bottle of Ember again and again. This delicious Bordeaux Blend comprised of the five main Bordeaux red varieties—Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot—has rich red and black fruit notes, mellow tannins and a rich, round finish with just a hint of oak! Pair it with a July 4th or summer BBQ and you can't go wrong!
A Note from Winemaker Russell Hearn
The beauty of red wine blends is that irregardless of the vintage a winemaker can adjust the blend to stylize a very similar wine year over year which still showcasing the best of that vinatge. In warm years you are able to use larger percentages of the later ripening varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot) with the reverse in cooler years, focusing on larger percentages of Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. This adjustment from year to year allows us to ensure we produce a perfectly balanced wine from the first wine that hints your toungue through the mid palate and onto the finish. With our blend as well as with all of our wines, I aim to ensure that we are always showcase fruit expression while maintaining a balance of tannin throughout the wine.
A Closer Look at Suhru Ember
This classic Bordeaux blend has notes of cranberry, cassis, mixed spice and thyme on the nose giving way to red fruit notes on the mid-palate with hints of raspberry, dark cherry and cranberry with hints of vanilla. Soft mellow tannins with a medium full bodied finish. The blend is comprised of 49% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec, and 4% Petit Verdot and aged for 12 months in Hungarian oak. The five different varietals were each fermented in open top tanks and punched down during their time on skins. The goal is to extract color and tannin without remaining too long (14 – 18 days) on skins before pressing to retain the vibrant fruit notes.
Want to Learn more about this wine? Checkout our 2018 Ember!
At Suhru we have always focused on making Pinot Grigio in the classic Italian style which characteristically is known for big, bold, fruit notes with a bright, crisp acidity.
When we first opened Suhru Wines and were deciding which grape varieties we wanted to work with Pinot Grigio was the first one we selected. In our cool maritime climate we grow crisp, bright, fruit expressive whites so well that making a Pinot Grigio in the Italian style seemed like the obvious choice, although no-one was doing it.
Pinot Grigio was the first wine we made under the Suhru label and now over 10 years later it still remains one of our most popular wines!
What's the Difference Between Pinot Grigio & Pinot Gris?
Domestically here in the US Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris have become synonymous, however they describe two different styles of winemaking for the same grape, Italian vs French.
Pinot Grigio when made in the Italian style is all about lightness and fruit forward flavors culminating in crisp acidity, a perfect compliment to our Maritime cuisine. Pinot Gris made in the Alsatian style however are characteristically made using riper fruit, which results in lower acidity with enhanced viscosity on the mouthfeel and is typically finished with some residual sugar remaining in the wine. This style although enjoyable, is stylized behind a totally different cuisine than what we see in our region.
If you're interested in learning more about the differences between the two styles, checkout our History of a Grape: Pinot Grigio vs Pinot Gris blog post where we take a deep dive of these two styles!
A Closer Look at the Vineyard
Of all of the vineyards we work with, the Pinot Grigio vineyard sees the most consistency from year to year. Located slightly further west than the rest of our vineyard partners, this particular parcel of land is extremely flat and uniform across the entire block which allows for uniformity in ripening leading it to be one of the first vineyards to ripen each year.
In the 2020 growing season we saw nice growth on the vine with warm days and lots of sunshine however as we entered the harvest season we experienced cooler than normal temperatures with very cool evenings. This delayed ripening which allowed the berries to retain the acidity in the grapes much longer, allowing for riper flavors to develop at lower sugar ripening stages.
As a result our 2020 Pinot Grigio has rich fruit flavors and more complexity and depth than years past while still maintaining that crisp acidity that makes this wine so wonderfully refreshing!
Fun Fact: Pinot Grigio grapes ripen to have red rather than green skins and give off an orange tinge to the grape juice when it is pressed that dissipates as it undergoes fermentation.