The Ageability of Suhru Reds
One of the things I love most about winemaking is the cyclical nature of the profession and its ties to nature. It is very rewarding each year watching the progression of the vine throughout the growing season moving from bud break in the Spring, to fruit set and cluster development over the Summer months, ripening and harvest in the Fall and then watching the vines go dormant for the Winter months before it all starts up again.
While Harvest and the vineyard tend to get most of the attention in the wine world, as a winemaker I also get to see what goes on behind the scenes in the tank, barrel and bottle. Much like the cyclical cycle of the growing season, the winery runs the same with the hustle and bustle of Harvest in the Fall with fermentation, racking, filtrations followed by barrel aging for our reds and the beginning of bottling of whites and rosés in the Winter Months moving into red blending trials and red bottling in the Spring and Summer before it all starts up again.
While the vineyard and winery work is often the most visible, there is a lot happening in the bottle as it continues to bottle age in the months, years, and decades after it is initially bottled. Which brings us to our Library wines. We are excited to be sharing a selection of Library Reds.
A Closer Look at the Long Island Wine Region
The Long Island Wine Region, specifically the North Fork is what is referred to as a Cool Climate growing region, meaning that we get "cool" not "cold" temperatures in the Winter months. While it may not always feel that way to us, and we do get inarguably very cold days, those extreme cold temperatures are moderated by our proximity to the ocean. Being surrounded by water on three sides, the water acts as a blanket in the cooler months insulating us from the extreme cold temperatures that you see in Northern wine regions such as the Finger Lakes. This allows us to grow vitis vinifera grape varietals and for the wines made from those grapes to retain higher acidity and moderate alcohols typically in the 13-13.5% range.
The Ageability of Suhru Reds
As a winemaker, my style preference of not trying to extract much of the astringent tannin from the seeds by shorter soak times during fermentation, creates softer red wines. That coupled with the fact that Long Island reds retain higher acidity and moderate alcohol levels, means that wines from our region can comfortably age in the bottle for 10-15 years. As we approach the end of 2022 this means that wines from the 2013 vintages, undisputedly one of the best growing years on Long Island, are quickly approaching their 10 year age mark.
The 2013 vintage was a near perfect growing season on the North Fork of Long Island, regarded as one of our region's best vintages to date. This was due to a hot, dry summer and absolutely zero rainfall during the entire Harvest, meaning every varietal was able to reach optimal growth and development unimpeded. We saw this trend of high quality vintages continue into 2014 and 2015 leading to excellent wine in the bottle.
We hope you will join us this weekend for our Library Reds Tasting, available by reservation Thursday, November 17th - Monday, November 21st. Can't make the event but still interested in exploring these delicious wines? Click Here.
Cooking with Suhru: Baked Brie
It may seem the obvious choice, but you can never go wrong with a baked brie! Hot, gooey cheese? Yes please! However if you are looking for an elevated approach I highly recommend dressing this classic appetizer up with a handful of chopped nuts, fresh fruit or fruit jam and a few fresh herbs which will take this simple (albeit delicious) dish to the next level.
While there are a variety of wines that you could choose to pair with this particular dish—think Brut, Sauvignon Blanc or a variety of reds—at Suhru we are partial to the Teroldego. The bright red fruit flavors, subtle tannins and soft acidity make this an excellent pairing for a rich, savory dish like a baked brie. The fresh fruit of preserves will bring out the ripe red fruit notes on the pallet while the fresh herbs nod to the savory quality of the wine on the finish.
What's Happening at Suhru this November
With the busiest part of the Fall now behind us, we are happy to report that the 2022 harvest has proven to be another fruitful one! The last of our grapes were harvested on Saturday, October 29th, bringing the 2022 vintage to a close. Despite the few periods of rain we had in October we are very pleased with the quality of fruit that came in from the vineyards this year. We saw good yields, very nice fruit development due to the hot, dry summer and many sun filled days, and minimal if any disease or animal pressure throughout the growing season. While a few varieties saw smaller than average yields in the vineyard, the quality all around was very high and is all adding up to a solid vintage.
Currently our white wines have finished fermentation and will be filtered in the coming days. Our reds are all macerating in the tank and undergoing punchdowns multiple times a day to ensure the juice stays in contact with the grape skins throughout the fermentation process. Russell and the rest of our winery team are keeping a close eye on things and will stay very busy in the winery throughout the rest of November. Over the coming weeks our reds will complete primary fermentation, at which point the wine will be pressed off the grape skins and returned to the tank to settle, before being barreled down to undergo malolactic fermentation in barrel.
Meanwhile, over at the Tasting House we have quite a bit planned this November and through the end of 2022! Friday, November 4th we will be hosting a Wine Pairing Dinner at The North Fork Shack featuring four select Suhru Wines paired with a Jamaican inspired meal crafted by Chef Samy. The weekend of November 17th - 21st we will be offering a limited re-release Library Reds Tasting Flight ($40pp) featuring four select red wines from the 2013 and 2014 vintages, with a limited number of bottles available for purchase.
Being a family business and active members of our local community, we are proud to share that for the second year in a row we will be the wine sponsor for the CAST Festival of Trees which benefits CAST whose mission is "to build a thriving community where every member is free from worry about basic necessities and is able to build a better future for themselves and their families". Festival of Trees is a wonderful holiday event for the whole family and directly supports those in need in our local North Fork community. Shelby will be pouring a selection of Suhru Wines at the Friday night welcome reception, she hopes to see you there!
Looking ahead to December, be sure to mark your calendars—on Sunday, December 4th we will be hosting our friends at Chocology Unlimited for a Holiday Popup featuring their delicious chocolates and fudges. And our December Wine Club Tasting will be held on the weekend of December 8th - 12th, Club Members check your emails for complete details.
We hope to see you at the Tasting House this November, but if we don't we hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with Family & Friends! If you are looking for Thanksgiving recipe ideas, we recommend taking a look through some of our featured Cooking with Suhru recipes!
Cooking with Suhru: Shiraz
Once the cool weather sets in there is nothing quite like a Sunday Roast served over a bed of root vegetables, paired with a bottle of Shiraz and shared with family and friends!
Given our family's Australian heritage—winemaker Russell Hearn was born in and grew up in Australia—lamb and Shiraz are a regular occurrence on our family dinner table. There is something about the soft, spicy hints of pepper and ripe red fruit notes that make Shiraz—Australian style Shiraz in particular—such a fantastic pairing with lamb.
This particular recipe was developed by Assistant Winemaker Brad Ulrich and showcases the classic Lamb Roast in a new way. Stop by the Tasting House to pick up a Lamb Roulade Recipe Card complete with wine pairing and tasting notes.
New Release: 2021 Sauvignon Blanc
We are excited to announce the release of our new 2021 Sauvignon Blanc! The 2021 vintage brings a slightly different flavor profile, showcasing bold tropical notes along with the classic minerality and soft finish. We hope you stop by the Tasting House to taste the new vintage sometime soon!
This vintage has a lively fruitiness with rich tropical notes of passionfruit, mango, and papaya on the nose. Tropical flavors continue to flow on the pallet. Bright flavors give way to a cleansing crisp finish, all showcasing the distinctive characteristics of the varietal.
While often associated with warmer weather, Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most popular winter white varieties. Its minerality and soft fruit notes make Sauvignon Blanc an excellent pairing option with poultry, pasta, roasted vegetables, winter soups, and more.
We highly recommend trying our Sauvignon Blanc paired with Roasted Butternut Squash Orzo! You can find this recipe and more in the Cooking with Suhru section of the Suhru Blog or stop by the Tasting House for a recipe card, happy sipping!
Cooking with Suhru: Sauvignon Blanc
One of the wonderful things about Sauvignon Blanc is that it is, what I like to call, an all weather wine. Looking for a rich, nuanced wine to pair with a cheese and charcuterie board? Sauvignon Blanc! Need a dry, cold wine to sip by the pool? Sauvignon Black is perfect. How about a crisp, nuanced white to pair with a savory pasta? You guessed it, Sauvignon Blanc!
While I personally love this varietal in all seasons, it is a particular favorite of mine in the cooler months. Now that the temperature outside has begun to drop, I find myself time and time again reaching for a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. One of my favorite meals to pair it with is no other than Roasted Butternut Squash Orzo, or what has become known in my house as "the lazy man's risotto".
This meal is on regular rotation in my house and works well with any selection of fresh herbs, including rosemary, sage, or thyme. For a richer flavor I recommend swapping out the vegetable broth with chicken broth and mixing in a little parmesan to the dish as well as sprinkling on top. This is a great staple recipe that is easy to play around with and make your own. Grab a bottle of Suhru Sauvignon Blanc and get cooking!
Checking in on Harvest
I try not to judge a vintage until all the fruit is in the cellar, as winemaking is at the end of the day, an agricultural enterprise and we are at the whim of Mother Nature. That being said, all of our white wines have been harvested, except the Riesling, and the rosé fruit is beginning to be picked so I think it's safe to make a few comments on the vintage thus far.
Everything that has been harvested to date looks and tastes 'beautiful'. Here on the North Fork we have been enjoying a wonderful Indian Summer so far in September with warm days and high sun. The warm weather has been coupled with 'low' humidity and next to no rainfall all of which add up to ideal grape growing conditions.
The North Fork doesn't give us an easy harvest like this very often but I'll take it! I am very pleased and excited for all of the fruit that has come into the cellar so far this year. We have had bright, fruitful, dynamic flavors in the grapes that have thus far been harvested and are seeing nice progress on the current ferments. The team in the cellar, headed up by Suhru's assistant winemaker Brad have been busy these last few weeks and will continue to be busy for the rest of this Fall tending to and managing the ferments to ensure the wines develop correctly.
At this point in the season all we can do is watch the weather and hope that this hurricane season in the Northeast remains calm (even though Ian is likely going to give us some issues). Fingers Crossed!
We are beginning to look ahead to the reds which are still a few weeks away but the red harvest will be here before we know it! Despite the slow, cool spring all varieties are ahead of normal in fruit development so our red harvest also should come in earlier than expected. More to come on that in the weeks ahead.
If you're not already, be sure to follow @suhruwines on Instagram for regular harvest updates!
What's Happening at Suhru this October
Harvest is well and truly underway on the North Fork and it is overall looking like 2022 is going to be a great vintage! As you may have read in our last Harvest Update we had a good growing season with a hot, dry summer leading into good sun levels and minimal rainfall throughout September all of which points to well developed fruit in the vineyard.
At this point in the Harvest season, all of the sparkling and most of the white wine grapes across the North Fork have been harvested with the rosé push underway. As we move into October we will see rosé harvesting continue in earnest and red grapes begin to come in. The white wines that have already been picked are fermenting away in the tank and are beginning to show the telltale signs of the wines they will become.
Growing up in a wine family, every year during the Fall my father would bring home grape clusters for my sister and I to snack on, take us on walks through the vineyard to taste the fruit while be was doing berry sampling, and if we were really lucky he would bring us home a bottle of freshly pressed grape juice, a little treat for us to enjoy with dinner!
I am excited to share that we will be sharing this experience with you this Columbus Day weekend with a Harvest Tasting! On Saturday, October 8th and Sunday, October 9th be sure to make a reservation to visit us at the Tasting House to enjoy our Harvest Flight, which will showcase the freshly pressed 2022 Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc juice alongside our 2021 Pinot Grigio and 2021 Sauvignon Blanc wines. This is a great opportunity to see how the flavors in the grape influence the finished wine.
We have a number of great events happening this month including the continuation of our Thursday Happy Hours weekly from 4-6pm with $6 glass specials and featured cheese board specials. We are also excited to be continuing our Fireside Fridays, our backyard fire pit is lit at 4pm and we are staying open an hour later closing at 7pm on Fridays through the end of the month (possibly extending into November depending on weather).
We also will be hosting another Succulent & Sip event with Imaginariums by Elissa on Sunday, October 23rd at 1pm. Grab a friend for a fun, crafty afternoon while you sip award winning wines and create a stunning succulent adorned pumpkin; beautiful to decorate your table or give as a lovely hostess gift! Ticket cost includes instruction, a beautiful 5 inch tiger pumpkin, hand picked hen and chick succulents, and fall inspired preserved florals and mosses. The full Suhru Wines menu will be available throughout the event.
I hope to see you at the Tasting House this Fall, but until then, cheers!
Hand vs Mechanical Harvesting
As you drive around the North Fork, you likely will see many teams out in the vineyard working to ensure the grapes ripen to their full potential throughout the growing season. While often an overlooked component of the winemaking process, good vineyard management is essential to good winemaking.
A wine is only as good as the grapes it comes from and good vineyard practices throughout the year mean less intervention and a more hands off approach can be taken by the winemaker and the winemaking team once the fruit arrives at the winery.
There are two main ways to harvest grapes, by hand and by machine. At Suhru, we hand harvest the majority of our grapes. The decision to hand harvest vs mechanical harvest depends on a multitude of factors including the grape varietal, condition of the grapes, and style of wine you are trying to make. Let's explore the differences!
For many grape varieties and styles, particularly early ripening white wine grapes, mechanical harvesting is a more efficient and cost effective approach. In mechanical harvesting a harvester machine straddles the grape vine, gently shaking the vine which dislodges the berries dropping them into a conveyor belt that carries them to a holding bin. When the harvester reaches the end of the row the holding bin is emptied into a gondola which then transports the grapes to the winery to be loaded into the press.
Mechanical harvesters are a great option for larger vineyards that lay on flat level ground. They can very quickly harvest an entire block of fruit and get it to the winery and loaded into the press in a fraction of the time it would take to hand harvest the same block.
At Suhru we machine harvest our Pinot Grigio. The vineyard where it is grown is well suited to a mechanical harvester and it allows our early ripening Pinot Grigio berries to arrive at the winery very quickly after being harvested which is important for machine harvested fruit as the berries are often split open during the harvesting process.
Hand harvesting, while extremely labor intensive, allows our vineyard team to examine the fruit as they move through the vineyard, selecting only the best grape clusters and discarding the bruised, damaged or underripe fruit. A skilled hand harvester can pick between one and one and a half tons of grapes in a 10 hour day, which is the equivalent of 800-1,200 bottles of wine or 66-100 cases.
While more expensive, laborious, and time consuming there are a number of reasons to hand harvest your grapes:
- Allows for more precision. The grapes are better protected during harvesting greatly reducing the possibility of oxidation due to damaged skins.
- Winemaking Style. For a number of styles including méthode champenoise and some styles of white wine we whole cluster press, meaning that the entire cluster, stems, seeds, skins and all are loaded into the press and discarded as one once the juice has been pressed out.
- Fruit quality. When you machine harvest all the berries are mixed in however when you hand harvest as the vineyard crew is moving from cluster to cluster they can pick out any berries damaged by birds or any that have not fully developed ensuring that only the best berries make it to the winery.
We would like to take a moment to applaud the hard working men and women who cultivate and care for our grape vines throughout the year. THANK YOU for all that you do, we could not do it without you!
Harvest Has Arrived
With harvest season now upon us it is a good opportunity to look back at the growing season to see how we got here. Since early June the 2022 growing season has been very favorable. We had hot, dry conditions throughout most of the summer, which while at times may have been a little oppressive for all of us, it's ideal for the grapes. Although humidity was high for 4-5 weeks during that time, we experienced almost zero rainfall. The warmer than normal temperatures and slightly below average yields have moved ripening along at a nice pace.
We began harvesting our Pinot Noir fruit for Brut on Thursday. The crews were out harvesting starting at 6am which officially kicked off the 2022 Suhru Vintage! Chardonnay, the second grape varietal that comprises our Brut, will be right behind it. The next grape on deck is Pinot Grigio. It looks beautiful in the vineyard with the sugar and flavors developing very nicely. I expect that it, along with the Chardonnay will be harvested mid to late next week.
If you have visited our Tasting House in the past few months you may have heard the team hinting at a new addition to the Suhru library. We are excited to share that we will be making a new wine during the harvest of 2022—La Crescent. Brad, our assistant winemaker, will be taking the lead on this bright, crisp white wine. La Crescent is a hybrid grape that we are sourcing from the Finger Lakes. This varietal is also very close to full ripeness and will be picked by the end of the week. We have been experimenting with this grape for the last two vintages and I am excited about its potential. Keep an eye out for a Spring release!
In general yields are a little below average for the 2022 vintage. The 'fruitfulness' (quantity of clusters) is established from the amount of sunlight during the growing season. The number of berries on each cluster happens during the 'fruit set' period each June. This slightly below average yield has reduced the need for green harvesting (to correct yield), which was a concern earlier in the season as we had a very cool Spring, The smaller yields will provide riper fruit overall. The weather over the coming 6-7 weeks as always is critical. Fingers crossed for a stellar 2022 Harvest.