Killer Cluster – Killed us a little on the inside but it’s all worth it.
By now there is probably a good chance you have already heard that there is an incredible shortage of grapes in Virginia. There has been mention of a world-wide wine shortage on a few occasions and while I am struggling to see that, it is certainly the case for Virginia Wine. Essentially it is one of the good problems to have but it is still a problem. Demand over recent years has far outpaced vineyard plantings and therefore supply. This has certainly been the case for us at Tarara. Our vineyard used to supply us enough wine for a year, now it is more like 6 months. We are aggressively prepping our land for expansion that will more than double our acreage, but those vines won’t be helpful for 3-5 years after planting. What can we do?
Killer Cluster is what we can do.
While we have fought and fought to ensure all of our wine is Virginia grown there finally came a time where that simply was not possible. We knew in order to keep our store open we were going to have to source grapes from outside of Virginia. After moping around for a couple weeks like life was ending we came up with a game plan that not only made us feel better, but made us feel great. We decided to make a whole new label that was completely transparent to all tasting and only make wines that are not as well suited to our terroir. It was taking a complete “cluster” of a situation and turning it into an opportunity to make some killer wine.
We knew the wine had to be special. We knew we could not take the approach of just buying some cheap grapes or bulk wine from some underperforming appellation. We wanted to apply our same exacting standards to the wine as we always do. Our answer was actually quite simple. We decided to source some of the best grapes we could find from appellations I also enjoy drinking and have a better understanding of their terroir. To start we have gone toward Washington State with a major emphasis on Walla Walla, Horse Heaven Hills and Red Mountain with some also coming from the larger Yakima and Columbia Valley AVA’s. These won’t necessarily be the only places we source over the coming years, but this is where we started. It also gives me the opportunity to go out to see some incredible vineyards just to make sure our fruit will be matching our standards. In fact in only 4 days I am on my way there for an inspection at veraison getting ready to harvest. So far the 2014 vintage looks great.
Before you get to try the 2014’s we are now just starting to release our some 2013’s. The grapes were immaculate and we decided to start with Riesling, Muscat (dry Alsatian style, not Moscato), Roussanne, Marsanne, Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah and a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon. The whites this year are all being bottled as varietal wines but the reds will all be blends except for one exceptional Syrah from Yakima Valley. The wine is juicy, rich and full of character. They were a pleasure to make. Have I ever mentioned I love Rhone style wines?
This year we will not be getting any Cabernet Sauvignon but we will add on some Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Tempranillo and a cool field blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Cao, and Souzao.
Ultimately, we weren’t happy about not being able to supply only Virginia fruit, but the result does please us. Tarara and Boneyard wines will always be 100% Virginia grown, but this gives us a cool opportunity to do some new awesome styles while keeping you happy.
What a Killer Cluster!!! Take it however you want. When hit with a multitude of different weather events, a short crop all over our fine state, wildly increasing demand and press, and knowing that new plantings would take years we could only say one thing. Some was good news, some not so much but still: What a Killer Cluster! Our only option was to find new sources, so that's what we did. We set out to find the best grapes we could from Walla Walla, Horse Heaven Hills and Columbia Valley. When the grapes arrived, we could only say one thing: What a Killer Cluster.