Tag Archives: Perennial Vintners

2013 Harvest: Reports from the field week two

Brynn writes:

It’s been a busy last few weeks for our area winemakers. Here’s the latest I’ve heard from a few of them (or been able to gather from their Facebook posts). (To see last week’s update click here).

Amelia Wynn Winery (Email from winemaker Paul Bianchi, Sept. 25):

This is the fourth road trip for grapes as I write from Yakima on the way to Horse Heaven Hills for Grenache and then on to Walla Walla for Syrah. Back at the winery Sauv Blanc, Chard, Viognier, Cab Franc Rose, Merlot, Sangiovese Rose, and two clones of Merlot are happily fermenting. We will most likely return tomorrow. More to come.

Email from Sept. 26: Picked up 3,000 lbs Grenache at the Six Prong Vineyard near Alderdale then drove on to Walla Walla where we are getting 2 tons of Syrah which was picked yesterday afternoon to avoid the rains.

Eleven Winery (From winemaker Matt Albee’s Facebook post Sept. 20):

Crushed Elephant Mountain Syrah today — it has amazing flavors this year, the best I’ve tasted.

Fletcher Bay Winery (From the Facebook page, Sept. 25):

Crushed Semillion grapes on Tuesday.

Perennial Vintners (From winemaker Mike Lempriere’s Facebook post Sept. 21):

It’s that time! We harvested, crushed and pressed Siegerrebe last week and it’s bubbling away. Lemberger from Red Mountain AVA was crushed this week and is on the skins. We harvested Madeleine Angevine yesterday and will crush it today, along with an experimental run of Zwiegelt. Muller Thurgau is still needs a bit of time/heat, as does the Melon de Bourgogne.

Rolling Bay Winery (Email from winemaker Alphonse de Klerk, Sept. 22):

Harvest has started for Rolling Bay Winery. Thursday we took in 3.5 tons of Chardonnay grapes from Upland Vineyardson Snipes Mountain. I’m showing my age but I have been sourcing from the Newhouse family since 1992. There is a link to some info on my Facebook page about Snipes Mountain. We crushed our Chardonnay on Friday and finished up with about 500 gallons. At this point we are cold settling the juice before we rack off and inoculate with our yeast.

Email from Sept. 24: Leaving this morning to pick up Syrah and Merlot.

2013 Harvest: Reports from the field


Cab Franc

Brynn writes:

Every year around this time I see posts on Facebook and email updates from our local winemakers. Many of them are making regular trips to Eastern Washington to harvest grapes and check the conditions of their vineyard blocks to determine the best time to pull the clusters from the vines.

I’ve always wanted to get a report from them about how harvest is going and to hear their initial projections about the vintage, but never want to bother them since I know they’re busy and running on minimal sleep. This year I took a chance and sent an email to the winemakers of Bainbridge Island (Amelia Wynn Winery, Eagle Harbor Wine Company, Eleven Winery, Fletcher Bay Winery, Rolling Bay Winery) and Mosquito Fleet Winery in Belfair to see if they’d be interested in sending me email updates of how things are going in the field.

I haven’t heard back from everyone, but a number of the winemakers wrote back almost immediately — some with reports from the field, others saying they would be sending me updates as harvest went along. My plan is to compose periodic blog posts that includes their reports from the field — either as a direct copy and paste from what they sent me, or my summary of what they have to say.

I was surprised to hear that a number of white grapes have been harvested and are already back on the peninsula fermenting. Matt Albee, winemaker for Eleven Winery, said his Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio grapes were about two weeks ahead of schedule this year.

Below is a list of the wineries I’ve heard back from and quick summaries of how things are going. As you’ll see, Amelia Wynn winemaker Paul Bianchi has supplied a great report from the field. I’ve copied and pasted his emails so you can see the life of the local winemaker around this time of year.

Amelia Wynn (Email from winemaker Paul Bianchi sent Sept. 17):

Timing is everything at harvest and plans take shape over weeks. When it’s time to pull the trigger the vintner puts the vineyard on notice for an agreed upon harvest date.

The players are: vineyard owner, vineyard manager (if not the owner), picking crew being paid by the pound, the custom crush facility (if used) and most importantly the truck rental agency because you need a big truck if you’re hauling more than 5,000 lbs.

This Sunday (Sept. 15) in Walla Walla it was 95 degrees with 20 mph drying winds. Not a good day for grapes. So the green light was given to pick on Tuesday (Sept. 16). Predicted light showers turned out to be heavier than anticipated, complicating the day.

All grape bins were covered and because the crush schedule got screwed up, our Merlot was to be destemmed around 11 p.m., making for a very long day for the crush crew. We have to be at Artifex at 8 a.m. Wednesday (Sept. 18) to pick up the destemmed grapes and then drive west to Prosser to press the Cab Franc and Viognier. The latter I need to pick up at the Elerding vineyard.

The pick date for the Viognier was established last week and all players were put in motion. The Cab Franc was given a green light Sept. 16 to be picked on the same day as the Viognier.  The intent is to make a 500 mile truck rental, two nights on the road, and use of commercial equipment as efficient as possible.

What has gone down toward the end of the 2013 harvest is: A record-setting hot summer has skidded to a slow walk with a cooling trend that is in fact a relief because the  grape varieties were rippening too close together as a result of the high temperatures. With a cooling period the wineries can pace the harvest dates so work in the winery is not chaotic.

When I return to the island tomorrow night (Sept. 18), I will have the following grapes fermenting or preparing to ferment:  Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cab Franc Rose, Viognier and two clones of Merlot from Walla Walla.

Here’s a summary of what winemaker Paul Bianchi’s days looked like Monday/Tuesday:

  • Monday: catching the 8:10 p.m. ferry and arriving in Prosser at midnight, staying at the Best Western.
  • In the morning dropping off bins for Cab Franc, which will be picked and pressed on Wednesday (Sept. 18) for a Rosé. Also dropped off two 275 gal juice totes where the cab franc will be pressed as well as 4,000 lbs of Viognier.
  • Drove on to Walla Walla where we will pick up 3 tons of Merlot and have destemmed at Artifex, a custom crush facility.
  • Sept. 18 back on the road to Prosser where we will pick up 2 tons of Viognier at Elerding vineyard and then to Kestral winery where the Cab Franc and Viognier will be slowly pressed in a membrane press.

Eleven Winery (Email summary from winemaker Matt Albee, sent Sept. 16):

I have Sauv Blanc and Pinot Grigio fermenting, and am leaving tonight (Sept. 16) to pick Viognier tomorrow (Sept. 17); Roussanne/Marsanne and Syrah on Thursday (Sept. 19).

The very hot summer perhaps favors later-ripening varieties like Cabs and Mourvedre, but so far everything is good quality!

We picked Sauvignon Blanc on Aug. 29, Pinot Grigio on Sept. 9 (originally scheduled for Sept. 4, but pushed back due to forecast of rain, which ended up not hitting our vineyard). This week we will see if last week’s extreme heat had much impact. There seems to have been a lot of rain for September in Eastern WA, but my sources have largely been spared (whew!).

Fletcher Bay Winery (Email from winemaker Jim Wilford, sent Sept. 16):

My plans for harvest this year include: Tara Rouge ( Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon), a Walla Walla Cab Sauv, a Red Moutain Zinfandel, a dry Rose, Semillion and a Pinot Grigio.

Pinot Grigio is being picked, everything else is still on the vine.

Perennial Vintners (From winemaker Mike Lempriere’s newsletter):

The 2013 harvest is looking fantastic! It will be our largest local harvest to date. The Frambelle is done fermenting, it’s tasting superb already.  We will be getting an excellent harvest of Melon de Bourgogne, so mid-2014 we’ll have our signature wine available again!
The vineyard is mostly done with for the year, at this point we’re mostly just waiting for Mother Nature to finish the job of ripening. We do still have to spray for Botrytis mold, but other than that it’s just trying to catch up on weeding.  It’s a beautiful time to visit the vineyard as the grapes have gone through veraison, meaning they ‘re ripening and turning color.
From Facebook: Mike said they harvested the Siegerrebe Sept. 8.

Mosquito Fleet Winery (Email from winemaker Brian Petersen, sent Sept. 16):

Crush has just begun for us here at MFW and we are excited! We brought in a couple tons of our first white: A Viognier from Elephant Mountain. The fruit is very nice, tremendous flavors and great acids.

We will only be producing around 100 cases of Viognier this year. Partially fermented in stainless steel tank and partial barrel fermentation, which we will ferment and age sur lie and go through malolactic fermentation.

This Thursday (Sept. 19) we are bringing in Merlot from Double Canyon Vineyard and on Saturday (Sept. 21) we will bring in our first Malbec off Elephant Mountain as well. We are looking forward to this too.

We have increased our Pepper Bridge Vineyard fruit and we are now sourcing Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from there as well. The PB Merlot will be ready in about a week.

Then it’s Cab Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Touriga Nacional for our Port.

It will get very, very busy here shortly.

Weekly wine defined: Verjus

Verjus (vair-jhoo, like au jus) is the pressed juice of unripe grapes. Verjus is tart like vinegar and mildly acidic but with a slight sweetness like wine, however, it is not fermented.

The French word verjus translated is green juice. It is made from red or white grapes thinned from the vines just when the crop is about to ripen. This early crop of unripe grapes is then pressed and bottled. Because it is not fermented, verjus contains no alcohol.

Widely used in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance as a flavor enhancer, verjus has been making a comeback in recent years because of its harmonious ability to pair wine with salad better than vinegar. Red verjus has an earthier flavor, while white verjus has a crisper taste.

Bainbridge Island’s Perennial Vintners produces verjus. Sprinkle a bit on your next salad or roasted vegetable and taste the difference.

What we’re drinking: Bainbridge’s Perennial Vintners

Brynn writes:

Perennial Vintners’ 2011 Lemberger: This is winemaker Mike Lempriere’s first red wine under his Perennial Vintners label, and what a great way to bring his winery over to the “dark side”.

Lempriere has traditionally made white wines from grapes grown on Bainbridge Island, but the last couple of years of bad weather forced him to branch east of the mountains to get grapes from vineyards that weathered the poor conditions better than his estate vines.

While he’s still making his island-grown whites and raspberry dessert wine, Lempriere has expanded his selection, adding a lemberger.

Sourced from Kiona Vineyards on Red Mountain, Lempriere’s lemberger is made in the old world style. Instead of letting this wine spend time on oak, Lempriere turned it around quickly, producing a fruit-forward young wine that packs a lot of flavor for its light body.

With only 12 percent alcohol the fruitiness of the wine is able to shine, making it a great choice for summer barbecue season.

*This is part of a series of reviews of Bainbridge Island wines recently tried at the Bainbridge Uncorked event, which featured the island’s winemakers.

Weather forces Bainbridge winery to change operations

Brynn writes:

While playing significant catch up on Facebook this weekend I saw a post from Perennial Vintners’ winemaker Mike Lempriere, explaining a change in how he does things at the winery. As a result of poor weather the last few summers, Lempriere will begin sourcing some of his grapes from off the island.

Until now Lempriere and Joann and Gerard Bentryn, who own Bainbridge Island Vineyards and Winery, were the only ones on the island to manage vineyards on the island. The other winemakers source their grapes from Eastern Washington, where the selection is more abundant because of the climate. The Bentryns have since had to close their winery because of health reasons.

Here’s what Lempriere had to say about the decision in a Facebook post:

For those of you living nearby (in the Puget Sound basin), you’re aware that last year (2011) was “the year they forgot to have summer”. Put bluntly, it was a horrible growing year. A few Puget Sound AVA wineries did do well, however Perennial Vintners, was not one of them — we had a complete loss of crop, due to powdery mildew and just plain not enough heat. Obviously we cannot survive as a business without wine to sell, so we’ve had to adapt and change the way we do business.Until now, all our wines have been grown locally on Bainbridge Island. We will now also be selling wines that came from grapes grown outside of Bainbridge Island. I cannot emphasize enough how difficult it was to make this decision, to break from telling purely the Locavore story, but quite simply there was no choice. It was either close the doors as a business, or sell some non-local wines until we again have local wines available (cross your fingers for a good growing season this year).

The good part of this though, is that we will now have available wine types that we have not had in the past. Our first non-local release will be a lovely rose from Pinot Noir grapes. We also have our first red wine coming soon, from Lemberger grapes. We absolutely plan to remain true to our style with more uncommon varieties in unusual styles.

We really want to re-emphasize that Perennial Vintners will continue with local Bainbridge Island wines in the future. The core belief of our business is all about local products; we are aggressively working in our vineyards this year to ensure we keep ahead of the powdery mildew that clobbered us last year. We will also soon have a Madeleine Angevine from the Puget Sound AVA, though it was not grown on Bainbridge. If you have concerns about this change, we would love to discuss them with you — please drop in and we’ll talk.

Chocolate and wine, a great combination

Brynn writes:

Who doesn’t love chocolate? And if you’re reading this blog, I’m guessing it’s safe to assume you also love wine…so you’ll probably want to know about an event planned for this weekend that showcases both.

Bainbridge Island’s wineries are participating in a Wine and Chocolate Weekend Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Unlike other winemakers weekends were people can visit the tasting rooms and the wineries, this weekend’s event will be held at the wineries only — so if you head to any of the three tasting rooms on Winslow Way, while you’ll find wine, you won’t find chocolate.

Artisan chocolates will be paired with the handcrafted wines at the following wineries:

If you visit Rolling Bay Winery they are also using this Valentine’s Day weekend to showcase the release of their 2011 Rosé — with each bottle purchased you’ll receive a free rose.

Need a last minute gift? Why not local wine?

Brynn writes:

Yesterday I received an email from Mike Lempriere, winemaker of Bainbridge Island wineryPerennial Vintners. He wanted to share that while not an official “Meet the Winemakers” weekend, this weekend most of the island’s wineries will be open to holiday shoppers looking for that perfect stocking stuffer. (Perennial Vintners, Rolling Bay and Eagle Harbor Wine Co. will be open at their wineries, while the others — Fletcher Bay, Amelia Wynn, Victor Alexander and Eleven — will be open at their tasting room locations in Winslow.)

Lempriere is offering his Frambelle Port-style raspberry dessert wine at a special price, $2 off each bottle if you buy more than one, now until the holidays. He also has bottles of his Melon de Bourgogne and Muller Thurgau available, along with his Verjus from this year’s harvest (Verjus is non-alcoholic and is used in cooking, often as a substitute for lemon juice). All of Lemprierer’s wines come from grapes grown onsite at the winery off Lovgreen Road.

Alphonse de Klerk, winemaker of Rolling Bay, sent out an email today announcing the winery will waive its usual tasting fee this weekend for people to give his wines a try. The barrels will be open for tasting and anyone interested in getting in on the 2010 releases of the Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah can purchase their futures at the event.

Eleven Winery open house this weekend, Bainbridge wineries also open

Brynn writes:

Bainbridge Island’s Eleven Winery recently moved into a larger space and winemaker Matt Albee wants the public to check out their new digs. An open house is planned for Friday, Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. at the new location, 7671 NE Day Road.

For those who have visited the old Eleven Winery location in Albee’s garage, the new location is about a half-mile away in an industrial spot. Albee’s winery has grown from 500 square feet to 4,000 square feet. He held a private opening on 11/11/11 for his wine club members, but has continued to work on the space since then.

The open house is the public’s chance to see the new place and enjoy a free tasting. Rare wines and special discounts will be offered this weekend for the celebration. The event also falls on the winery’s semi-annual case sale, meaning if you choose to purchase a case you’ll see extra discounts.

Albee’s open house celebration coincides with the already scheduled meet the winemakers weekend on the island. Seven of the wineries will be open to the public Saturday and Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m. It sounds like this weekend is also Christmas in the Country and Studio Tour on the island, so you could easily make a day, or two out of all that’s going on.

Like Eleven, Rolling Bay Winery is also planning a special celebration for the weekend. The winery’s third annual release party is planned for Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 5:30 p.m. The party will include a holiday giveaway where you can enter a drawing at the winery to receive one of three Rolling Bay wines: a Double Gold Medal winner 2007 Manitou Red, a 2009 Cuvée Aldaro or a 2010 Chardonnay.

Light appetizers from local artisan foods will be served with the winery’s newly bottled wines including:

  • 2009 Cuvée Aldaro (78 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 12 percent Cab Franc and 10 percent Merlot)
  • 2009 Syrah
  • 2010 Chardonnay (barrel fermented and aged in neutral french barrels)
  • 2010 Pinot Gris
  • 2008 Manitou Red (55 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 40 percent Syrah, and 5 percent Merlot)

Barrels will also be open for tasting and futures of the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah will be for sale at the event. Price is $5 which is refunded with purchase.

For more about the winemakers weekend click here.

Labor Day wine tasting planned

Brynn writes:

Looking to stay around Kitsap this three-day weekend and want to have fun? There’s another wine tasting planned on Bainbridge Island — all three days.

The seven Bainbridge wineries will be open from 12 to 5:30 p.m., Sept. 3-5, for people to swing by and taste their hand-crafted wines.

Some of them even have additional festivities planned for the weekend, like Rolling Bay Winery which is planning a live performance on Saturday by “Ranger and the ‘Re-arrangers'”. The performance will be from 2 to 5 p.m. They’ll also have artisan cheeses available to sample with the wines.

To see a complete list of the wineries, a map of where they’re located and what they have to offer, visit the Winery Alliance of Bainbridge Island website.

Get ready for another Bainbridge wine weekend

Brynn writes:

Well you’re probably getting sick of me writing about upcoming meet the winemakers weekends on Bainbridge Island, but guess what? I’ve got another one to tell you about.

Over Memorial Day Weekend the winemakers will sacrifice their three-day free time by opening their doors to let you in to taste their most cherished creations. In some cases the wineries have released wines since the last time they held this event, or they’re planning to release by June. (So, if you’ve already gone this year, you may want to call ahead to see if there’s something new to try).

Assuming the weather will be nice — and frankly that’s an assumption I wouldn’t bet the farm on knowing our spring so far — it could make for a nice day trip if you’re looking to stay close to home this year. Note the winemakers will be open all three days of the three-day weekend, not just Saturday and Sunday like all the other weekends.

So, once again, here’s the details for the weekend:

Wineries will be open Saturday, May 28 to Monday, May 30 from 12 to 5 p.m. Fees range from free to a few dollars.

Note for groups and tours: our wineries are all very intimate and cannot accommodate large groups or buses (all the better for the rest of you!). If you are a group of more than 6 people, you must call ahead to make arrangements in advance. Thank you!

Here’s a map showing all the locations (includes both satellite tasting rooms and winery locations – navigate carefully!). Note: this map may not get you all the way to the winery in all cases. When the wineries are open, there will be signs directing you to the exact locations.

The Wineries of Bainbridge Island are: