A Day in the Vines
An invite to walk the grape vines with Marie-Eve Gilles, winemaker for Forgeron Cellars, is one I don’t pass up. Meeting up with Mare-Eve early one Tuesday morning we leave from her home base Walla Walla and head West to the acclaimed AVA’s of Red Mountain and Horse Heaven Hills. Both AVA’s are located in the Columbia Valley.
First stop a vineyard on Red Mountain. We sampled juicy red, sweet, surprisingly edible cabernet sauvignon grapes just off the vine. Next stop a neighboring vineyard where we checked out several blocks of cabernet sauvignon. The difference between clones, location and nuances of the vines was incredibly distinct and became clearer as we tasted and sampled ripening grapes from the various vines. There was definitely a winner for Marie-Eve. Sourcing and picking the grapes is where the true craft of a skilled winemaker come into play.
On to another vineyard. Our next stop the Marsanne grapes. It was apparent that they were not nearly close enough to being harvested. So, quickly we moved on to a vineyard in Prosser where orange muscat grapes playfully basked in the sunshine. They were flavorful with that noticeable orange element added to the subtle yet sweet white grape. A week or two from harvesting though.
Onward leaving a dusty trail through the hills we blazed to the formidable AVA of Horse Heaven Hills. Traversing our way through the vines we managed to find Roussanne block A29 and the best view in town. Situated on a steep incline with scenic views of the Columbia River the grapes looked rather content as they soaked up the much appreciated heat units. Clusters of grapes were gathered for the lab and a round of brix and Ph testing. It appears that these lovely Roussane grapes will probably be the first harvested by Forgeron Cellars for their 2011 vintage.
Harvest is an exciting time of year to visit wine country. I highly recommend a trip out. The winemakers are busy! You may not see them but you will see a lot of activity in and around the vineyards, tasting rooms and production facilities. You will hear the buzz and projections for vintage 2011 and everybody is in full speed as they get ready to pick grapes and put some more wine in those empty barrels.
If you can’t make a trip East but interested in meeting winemaker Marie-Eve and tasting through Forgeron Cellars latest releases stop by Wine World Seattle this Saturday from 2-5 pm.