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Suhru Blog


Russell Hearn
November 17, 2022 | Russell Hearn

The Ageability of Suhru Reds

The Ageability of Suhru Reds, blog post from Suhru Wines winemaker Russell HearnOne 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

Time Posted: Nov 17, 2022 at 3:00 AM Permalink to The Ageability of Suhru Reds Permalink
Russell Hearn
October 3, 2022 | Russell Hearn

Checking in on Harvest

Harvest Update, October 2022

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

Time Posted: Oct 3, 2022 at 3:00 AM Permalink to Checking in on Harvest Permalink
Russell Hearn
September 8, 2022 | Russell Hearn

Harvest Has Arrived

Suhru Wines September Harvest Update

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.

What's Happening at Suhru

Time Posted: Sep 8, 2022 at 3:00 AM Permalink to Harvest Has Arrived Permalink
Russell Hearn
November 2, 2021 | Russell Hearn

November 2021 Harvest Update

A Note from Winemaker, Russell Hearn

October has been kind with a beautiful spell of warm weather in the mid to late portions of the month. The above normal temperatures and dry spell that we have had in October have allowed the red varieties to ripen nicely across Long Island. Early in October I was a little concerned about the red grapes but the warm Indian Summer we experienced in the middle of the month has really allowed for the red varieties to reach full ripeness. We haven't had an Indian Summer for several years but when they do come, they make some of the best quality reds.

We harvested our Teroldego and Shiraz last week on October 24th and 25th just before this last bout of rain. They had developed nicely during the beautiful long spell of sunny days and we are very happy with the fruit quality that came into the winery! Both varieties 'cold soaked' in the tank (50 degrees Fahrenheit) for 3-4 days to extract the initial skin tannins and color before being warmed up to initiate fermentation.

Suhru Wines MerlotOur Bordeaux varieties—Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot—all needed a little more time on the vine to fully ripen so we waited through the most recent rain event and began harvesting these grapes in the first few days of November with the Cabernet Franc harvested on November 1st and the Merlot on November 2nd. I am hopeful that we will have several more sunny, and dry days ahead to allow the grapes to fully ripen.  The plan is to let our Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Petit Verdot hang on the vine a little longer, aiming to harvest towards the end of the first week or first half of the second week of November.

Sometimes harvesting in early November is necessary to fully ripen the fruit. This extended hang time allows for some dehydration in the berries which intensifies the flavor profile. So this year our winery team will be working over the Thanksgiving period, punching down the fermenting tanks and getting close to pressing off shortly afterwards. We plan to be enjoying a bottle of our 2019 Shiraz with our Thanksgiving turkey while probably pressing off the 2021 Shiraz around the same time.


What's Happening at Suhru

Time Posted: Nov 2, 2021 at 4:00 AM Permalink to November 2021 Harvest Update Permalink
Russell Hearn
October 4, 2021 | Russell Hearn

October 2021 Harvest Update

Merlot Grapes on the Vine | Suhru WinesHarvest 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

Suhru Wines | Winemaker Russell HearnWhites 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!

What's Happening at Suhru

Time Posted: Oct 4, 2021 at 4:00 AM Permalink to October 2021 Harvest Update Permalink
Russell Hearn
September 13, 2021 | Russell Hearn

September 2021 Harvest Update

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!

What's Happening at Suhru

Time Posted: Sep 13, 2021 at 4:00 AM Permalink to September 2021 Harvest Update Permalink
Russell Hearn
November 1, 2020 | Russell Hearn

Harvest Update: November 2020

Our 2020 Harvest has come to an end at Suhru. All of our grapes have been picked and are now busy fermenting into wine! While our fruit has all been picked, the work is far from done! Our white wines are completing the fermentation process while for the reds, the journey from grape juice into wine is just begining. 

What's Happening in the Winery

Hand Harvesting Red Wine Grapes

Over the last week the focus in the winery has switched over to red wines, so we thought we'd take a quick moment to briefly review how red wine is made. Once our reds have been hand-harvested and delivered by tractor to the winery the grapes are destemmed and the grape must (aka berries, juice, skins, seeds and all) are pumped into open-top tanks where the magic of fermentation occurs.

All of the tanks at the winery are temperature controlled as temperature is key during fermentation. Yeast (the essential ingredient in turning juice into wine) like very specific conditions—too warm the yeast will over heat and die, too cold the yeast will fall dormant.

When the grape must reaches 60 degrees it is time to inoculate (aka add yeast)! Throughout fermentation the yeast cells will consume the natural occurring sugars in the grape juice, producing alcohol and releasing carbon dioxide. During the ferment as CO2 is released it rises, lifting the skins to the top of the tank forming a "cap". 

Suhru Owner Susan Hearn preforming a punch downWe need to ensure that the juice stays in contact with the skins throughout the fermentation process as the skins are what give red wine its color. As a result, throughout fermentation we "punch-down" the grape skin cap that forms at the surface of the tank in order to reintroduce the skins to the juice. This process will be done multiple times a day at the beginning of fermentation, gradually slowing down as the rate of fermentation slows.

Once the fermentation process is complete and all of the sugars have been converted to alcohol, the the grape seeds will settle to the bottom of the tank while the grape skins float homogeneously with the wine. At this time the juice is drained off and pumped into another tank and in order to ensure we get every last drop of wine. The remaining skins are shoveled out of the tank and loaded into the press where we extract the remaining wine.

From here the wine is racked into oak barrels where it undergoes secondary fermentation or malolactic fermentation. During this second fermentation process the sharp, astringent malic acid is converted into lactic acid which gives the wine a softer, rounder mouth-feel and more pleasant drinking experience. Once this process is complete the wine is racked into clean barrels where is will stay in our temperature controlled barrel room for the coming months as it ages. 

A Note from Winemaker Russell Hearn

Harvest 2020 started out nicely with the white and rosé fruit ripening in a dry pleasant weather pattern. All of our white and rosé varieties came into the winery looking very nice and are now fermenting along cleanly in tank. Our Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio fruit came in looking especially nice with full fruit maturity. Our Cabernet Franc and Merlot which will be used to make our 2020 Rosé were picked during a cool spell so they both retained nice natural acidity.

However after a beautiful summer and nice September, October has given us a run for our money! The second half of October turned wet and humid with below average temperatures so we have seen some delays in the red fruit which means that some of the red varieties out here will not be picked at the high level of quality that they otherwise could have been. Therefore, we have chosen to only make Teroldego this Harvest as it is an early ripening variety and was not as impacted by the uncharacteristic weather as the other red varieties. Our Teroldego was picked on October 26th probably 7-10 days later than normal which is one of the benefitw of it being an early ripener, even in a cooler than normal year it still ripens. The Teroldego fruit looked beautiful coming into the winery and is now busy fermenting away in tank. We look forward to seeing how this wine continues to improve and evolve throughout the fermentation process!


Checkout Previous Harvest Updates

Time Posted: Nov 1, 2020 at 6:00 AM Permalink to Harvest Update: November 2020 Permalink
Russell Hearn
October 20, 2020 | Russell Hearn

Harvest Update: October 2020

What's Happening in the Vineyard

Winemaker Russell Hearn, walking the vineyardThis time of year a winemaker spends a good portion of each day walking the vineyards, inspecting the fruit, and tasting the berries to determine their optimal ripeness and when they should be picked. Harvest is well underway on the North Fork and we are looking forward to picking several more tons of fruit in the coming weeks!

Our winemaker Russell has been walking the vineyards, inspecting the fruit, and testing the berries Brix (sugar) levels to determine their ripeness. Winemakers walk the vineyards for a number of reasons as there is a lot you can tell by looking at the vine and tasting the berry as to how the fruit is developing. Taste is a key indicator (as it is in every step of the winemaking process). By tasting the grapes you can assess the ripeness of the berry based on its sweetness as well as by the taste of the seeds.

If you have ever had the chance to taste a wine grape there are several seeds inside the berry. These seeds are a great indicator of a berries ripeness. Green seeds mean the grape is immature. As we walk the vineyard and taste the fruit we are looking for a desired sweetness level and a brown seed indicates that the berry has reached ripeness. An underripe seed can impart a "green" flavor to the wine and add an astringency to the tannins particularly in a red wine which will spend the first few weeks of its post-harvesting journey into wine, in contact with the skins and seeds. 


What's Happening at the Winery

Winery Tank RoomHarvest is well underway on the North Fork of Long Island! At this point in mid-September most of the fruit for sparkling, white wines, and rosés have been picked and have begun their fermentation process (which has been keeping our winery crew nice and busy these past few weeks). The red harvest will be starting shortly but we are enjoying the "calm before the storm" at the moment.

Once a grape has been harvested and brought into the winery there is a lot that needs to happen before that grape makes it into your glass—destemming, crushing, settling, fermentation, pressing, pumping, racking, barreling, and bottling—the journey from grape to wine is just beginning. We aren't going to dive into all of that just now (that would be a VERY long post) but let's talk briefly about the first few steps as they relate to what is happening at our winery at the moment.

Our white wines are "in tank" at the moment. When they first came into the winery they were destemmed and loaded into the press which gently squeezed the juice from the berries, leaving the skins and seeds behind. The discarded skins and seeds were then loaded into a truck and driven to the vineyard where they are being composted to be used to fertilize the vineyard for seasons to come. Back at the winery our white wine juice is pumped into tanks (as can be seen in the photo to the left). The juice is then left alone for a day or two to allow any solids to settle to the bottom.

Once the juice has settled, it is racked (the clear juice is pumped into another tank leaving the solids behind) at which point it is inoculated with yeast and the fermentation process begins. During fermentation, temperature control is essential. If the juice is too cold the yeast will go dormant and if too warm the yeast will die. All of our tanks are temperature controlled to create an ideal environment for the yeast to thrive as they consume the naturally occurring sugars in the grapes and convert them to alcohol. Once the yeast is finished consuming the sugars (all sugar is consumed when making a dry wine, fermentation is stopped while some sugar remains for a sweet wine) the fermentation process stops and the wine is again settled allowing the dead yeast cells to settle to the bottom of the tank. Once settled the remaining clear wine is racked into a new tank or barrel to begin its aging process. 

What's Happening at Suhru

Time Posted: Oct 20, 2020 at 9:00 AM Permalink to Harvest Update: October 2020 Permalink
Russell Hearn
September 10, 2020 | Russell Hearn

Harvest Update: September 2020

Harvest has started 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 2020 Harvest!

What's Happening in the Winery

With the beginning of our harvest season quickly approaching, this week has been spent preparing for fruit receival and readying the winery for the first grapes to arrive (aka lots of cleaning!) As our winemaker Russell loves to say "Winemaking is 70% Sanitation, 20% Perspiration, 9% Inspiration, and 1% Degustation, but only at the end of the day!"

When grapes arrive at the winery their first stop in their journey into wine is the crush-pad which is where all the action happens. The crush-pad is home to the de-stemmer, presses, weight scale, and a number of other machines that ensure that the first stages of the grapes post-picking journey to become wine goes smoothly. We have been readying our crush-pad for the last few weeks and just had new membranes installed to ensure everything is ready to go for the 2020 harvest season! Over the next few days the winery crew will be busy cleaning and sanitizing all the harvest equipment: hoses, piping, hoppers, destemmer/crusher and the presses in preparation to receive fruit, which could potentially be coming as early as next week.

While all of this is going on outside on the crush-pad the cellar is being prepared for harvest as well, cleaning tanks, making sure everything is organized, and preparing several harvest devices such as the 'punch-down tool' for red wine fermentations 5-6 weeks away. 

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

I never make predictions on the quality of the Harvest until 'all the fruit is in the building' however, 2020 is setting up very nicely and we are anticipating a good harvest. The growing season started very slowly this Spring with May and early June being much cooler and wetter than normal, which seems to be becoming the norm on the East End the last few years. Since then we have enjoyed a beautiful run of warm weather with very little rain (what we hope for in an ideal grape growing season). We are below normal in rainfall since June and have needed to drip irrigate several times during the last three months, which is always a good sign for quality. When the potato and sod farmers are grumbling about the dryness, the vineyard managers and winemakers are smiling! Grapes vines like a little stress during the growing season, with long dry summers and minimal rain  being their ideal growing season. This harvest is shaping up to be very similar to 2019, so with some continued dry conditions I am very hopeful.

What's Happening at Suhru

Time Posted: Sep 10, 2020 at 9:00 AM Permalink to Harvest Update: September 2020 Permalink
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