Over the last week the focus in the winery has switched over to the red harvest, so we thought we'd take a quick moment to review how red wine is made. Once our red fruit has been hand-harvested and delivered by tractor to the winery the grapes are destemmed and put through the must chiller which brings the berries to a consistent 50 degrees and agitates the berries, bursting them open. These berries, juice skins, seeds and all are pumped into open-top tanks where the magic of fermentation occurs.
When the internal temperature of the tank has reached 80 degrees it is time to inoculate! The grape must (freshly crushed juice, skins, seeds, and stems) is inoculated with the winemaker's desired yeast and begins fermentation. When we talk about fermentation in wine we are referring to the chemical process of yeast cells consuming the naturally occurring sugars in the grape juice, producing alcohol and releasing carbon dioxide and heat. During the ferment as CO2 is released it rises, lifting the skins to the top of the tank.
All of the tanks at the winery are temperature controlled by heating/cooling jackets that are built into the tank. These "jackets" control the internal temperature of the tank which is key during fermentation as yeast likes very specific conditions. Too warm and the yeast will overheat and die, too cold and the yeast will fall dormant and fermentation stops.
We 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 and tannin. As a result, throughout the fermentation process "punch-downs" or "pump-overs" occur regularly. At Suhru we use the punch-down method to ensure our red wines extract all of the desired color, flavor and tannin from the grape skins. Punch-downs are done mechanically by using a large mechanical foot or punch-down device which breaks up the grape skin cap that forms at the surface of the tank and reintroduces the skins into the juice. This process is done three times a day at the beginning of fermentation, gradually slowing down as the rate of fermentation slows and less and less CO2 is released. The time necessary to complete fermentation can take anywhere from 14 days up to a month depending on the healthiness of the yeast and the amount of sugar in the juice.
Once the fermentation process is complete and all of the sugars have been converted to alcohol the grape skins settle to the bottom of the tank and the juice is drained off and pumped into a new tank. In order to ensure we get every last drop of wine from the settled skins, the remaining grape skins are shoveled out of the tank and forklifted over to 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 different barrels where it will stay in our temperature controlled barrel room for the next few months as it ages. Throughout the aging process the wines will be regularly checked and tested to assess a number of key components to ensure the wine is developing as expected.
Before bottling, the red wine is filtered to make sure it is clear and free of any microbial bacteria. The bottles are then aged for three to twelve months, and released once our winemaker deems them ready for consumption.
Checkout our Red Wines!
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
People are always surprised when we tell them that we don’t own any vineyards. One of the first questions we are asked when guests arrive at our Tasting House is "where are your vineyards" to which we respond that we source our fruit for vineyards across the North Fork of Long Island and one in the Finger Lakes.
When we started Suhru Wines in 2008 we made the decision to source, or purchase our fruit as opposed to plant our vineyards. This decision was made for a variety of reasons, two of the main factors being time and cost. As a new (at the time) winery brand it was a substantial financial and time commitment to plant and cultivate a vineyard. Vineyards can take anywhere from four to eight years to produce wine quality fruit depending on the varietals and styles you are looking to produce. Additionally, by sourcing our fruit it allows us to focus solely on quality. Sourcing fruit gives us the flexibility to work with many different vineyards, allowing us to select vineyards that each grow the particular varietals we make, the best. This ensures that we use the highest quality fruit available for each of our wines.
Fruit sourcing is a very common occurrence in the wine industry, even by wineries with estate vineyards as each region has a variety of micro-climates which influence the development of different grape varietals in very specific ways. By not limiting ourselves to one location it gives us the flexibility to adjust and adapt to the ever changing weather patterns and climate changes that we see in any given season. We also have the option of bringing on a new varietal, think Teroldego, without having to plant the vines and then wait four or more years before the vines are ready and producing fruit.
Our winemaker Russell’s more than thirty years in the industry have allowed him to make many close and meaningful relationships with the various growers we work with both on Long Island and in the Finger Lakes (where we grow our Riesling fruit). He keeps in close contact and communication with them throughout the growing season which allows us to have a lot of input on what happens in the vineyard.
Russell, and our whole team at Suhru, visit the vineyards on Long Island regularly throughout the growing season to monitor the progress, yields and techniques used in the field. We know what is happening throughout the growing season and are consulted about the optimal time to pick or harvest the fruit. Therefore we have no surprises when the fruit is harvested. The only way to have more input is to grow the fruit ourselves. Although that might be an option at some point in the future, it requires a pretty large initial investment and upkeep. Growing grapes and making wine are two different skill sets. We are choosing to focus all of our attention on what we do best, making the best possible wine from the highest quality fruit!
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.