2009 Vintage Finale

By Posted on Aug 11 2010 | By

New Wine in Old Bottles as 2010 Grape Harvest Nears



2010 Typical Summer Lawn

Hot and dry describes the Virginia summer of 2010.  All of us can look at our lawns and appreciate what the power of the sun and the lack of rain can create, or more accurately, destroy.  Rock hard and brown is not a reference to the well-muscled twenty-somethings populating our local swimming pools and beaches, but to the earth from which wine grapes spring forth.

As a result of this summer’s climate—can we blame it on El Niño or La Niña?—procuring quality grapes in Virginia will be a challenge.  White grapes are nearing optimal harvesting conditions but it’s a bit unclear as to the caliber of the fruit.

In 2003, France experienced a similar blistering summer.  It produced some excellent red wines but not whites.  Not until early next year will we know for certain how the wines will fare given this scorching summer. For more on this subject visit

But, weather cannot be controlled so the winemaking challenge has to be considered part of the fun.

Empty Carboys Eager to Receive New Wine

All of my 2009 wines are now in bottle and my empty cellar awaits the coming new fruit.  It’s an exciting time of the year for winemakers—both amateur and professional.  Will the grapes easily produce gold medal winners or will alchemy (and some luck) be needed to create quality libations. Only time and successful winemaking will tell.

Recycled Bottles Awaiting Next Year’s Wine

As a home winemaker, I reuse a substantial portion of my bottles.  It is perhaps the most meaningful recycling program I am committed to.  Quality bottles are expensive and over the years I have reused them after the nectar contained therein has been drained.  I am certain I have bottles in storage that have held three or four vintages.  It would be great if commercial wineries could engage in such recycling, but it’s not physically or economically practicable.

As for my last year’s wines, I am generally pleased with the 2009 vintage; among my whites I have received favorable comments on my Seyval Blanc and virgin Chardonnay—meaning no oak or malolactic fermentation.  In fact, in 2010 I will increase my production of light, clean, crisp whites.  I rarely find a commercial bottling of a full-bodied, buttery chardonnay interesting anymore. Give me razor sharp acidity and bright flavors any evening.

My red wines are also pouring nicely but are still aging in bottle to round out some of the oak edges and soften the palate.  One bottling I dubbed “Cashmere” is a blend of fifty percent Cabernet Sauvignon and fifty percent Cabernet Franc.  It is a fruit forward, soft and smooth wine, almost, er, Cashmere-like in texture.  I have received several compliments on it already, telegraphing it will be a family favorite this coming winter.

Perhaps the most telling sign that I will soon be deep into winemaking was the arrival of my lab supplies last week.  Each year I replenish these items to assure fresh yeasts, additives, and cleaning supplies are in stock.  Now, I am simply waiting for the phone call, “We are harvesting the Seyval this morning.”

Soon, there will again be new wine in old bottles.

Hagarty Cellars Wine Lab

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