In the Retail Room
Weather is breaking and the deck is ready for some sweet action! With some new, exclusive wines on the menu and food on the weekend provided by the Wine Kitchen, there’s just no better way to while away the day than at Tarara. We’re ready for you!
We’ve also got lots of very cool happenings just around the bend this year. First up is our sold out Barrel Tasting on April 30. If you didn’t get a chance to sign up for this event, you’re in luck because we’re having aSecond Barrel Tasting on Saturday, May 14. Starting at 6 pm, this will be a blast and is limited to 100 people. We’ve only got about 60 spots left, so make your reservation today!
$65 per person / $50 per Vine Club Member
Then in July comes an elegant affair hosted by the most elegant winemaker in Lucketts. Our Summer Tasting Session
on July 23
promises to be as memorable as it is luxurious. Led by a panel of expert professionals, including Tarara Winemaker Jordan Harris, this tasting consists of two flights of top-flight world-class wines with different themes, which will be tasted in comparison to our own wines. Each of the wines will be benchmarks of their own world class regions, and by tasting Tarara wines side-by-side, we will show that we stand up with the very top of the world.
After the tasting, you’ll enjoy an elegant and high quality three-course meal created by the talented chefs at the Wine Kitchen, complimented by exquisite wine pairings for each delectable course. This will be a real treat and a wonderful way to spend a mid-summer evening at the winery. Seating is limited to 20 people each session, so make your reservations early!
Summer Tasting Session
Saturday, July 23
4:30 pm - 8:30 pm
$150 per person
Hope to see you all out here in the Tasting Room or one of these upcoming events! Cheers!
In the Club
If you were able to attend our Vine Club Blending Sessions in February, you know what an informative, educational, delicious, and all around good time was had by all! But that’s just the start of the unique events we’ve got lined up for you this year. So circle the date on your calendars and plan to be out at the winery on these dates!
Saturday May 7, 2016 – 1-5 pm
Quarter 2 Pick-Up Party! – Watch your email members! Super-Special-Secret-Details Coming Soon!
Saturday, September 17 and Sunday, September 18
Quarter 3 Pick-Up Party #1
Saturday, October 1
Quarter 3 Pick-Up Party #2 (yep, we’re having two parties!)
Saturday, November 12
Quarter 4 Pick-Up Party
Also, be sure to come visit us on Sundays in our Vine Club Lounge. We have a few special wines for you to taste, so come out, relax, and enjoy the company of your fellow Vine Club members in the Lounge (21 and over please). Hope to see you all soon! Cheers!
At the Show
And without further ado, we present the 2016 Summer Concert Series schedule! Here's what we've got lined up to kick off the season (please note that bands are subject to change):
6/4 TBD – let’s kick it off!
Check out the full schedule HERE.
And don't forget that Summer Concert Series Season Passes for Twofor just $100 are available now, so come and get 'em!
But, if you're a Vine Club Member you receive season passes for two to all the concerts. What a bonus! So why not sign up? If you're not yet a Vine Club Member this is the perfect time to JOIN
and enjoy the benefits!
We'll see you at the shows! Cheers!
In the Cave
Taste, blend, bottle, taste, return, stir, taste, taste….
This is the time of year in the cellar that everyone always say, “Man, you have the best job!”. You know what? We do. This is the time of year that we see a lot of our efforts finally hit the bottle and when we start to understand and build our new wines. It is putting those final touches on the 2014 reds and creating the initial blends of the 2015 reds and looking at the late release 2015 whites. The most important part of all this process is to taste, then taste again and then taste some more.
We are pretty stoked about both the 2014 and 2015 vintages. By traditional measures both vintages really fit into the “average” category as far as Virginia viticulture goes, but for us the vintages are probably our two biggest standouts as far as balance, complexity and sense of place. The main changes have happened in the vineyard, creating better balanced vines that have deeper root structures and less input regarding pest management. The vines, simply put, are far healthier and natural than they have ever been here. In turn, we have better opportunities in picking decisions, not having to rely solely on the up-coming weather, vines shutting down, or fruit breaking down. While some have said there have been some challenges the last couple of years, our fruit has been cleaner and more pure than ever. How does this relate to the cellar? Longer and better feeling tannins are the biggest change, but there is also better flavor development. The flavors are what they are and the cellar should have really nothing to do with that. The structure on the other hand is hugely important in the cellar. In the past we have felt our tannins were a little too aggressive and one way to battle that is with looser grain barrels and therefore more oxygen to help them integrate. This is no longer a problem so we have been able to change our barrel program from predominately loose grain Virginia oak to much tighter grain forests like Jupilles, Troncais, and Allier in France. One might ask, “what about the local aspect?” Well, Virginia oak generally is no longer coopered around here since the one main cooperage that did so moved to Australia. The next places are in California or Spain, so actually Virginia oak actually has a larger carbon footprint now for us than French oak. Regardless, the reason for the change are the changes in the vineyard and these barrels are showing much better. The wines are better structured, while more seamless, and the impact of the oak flavors is not as dominant so the fruit is more expressive. The main tell-tale sign you will see missing is some of the dill characters you may see in past vintages that are associated with the American oak.
Let’s now start with the 2014 reds. The wines have great purity of character and for the most part sit on more medium body frames. They are well structured wines that will work beautifully in the cellar but the fruit also makes them approachable today. So far we have bottled the following:
1) Long Bomb Edition 8 – For all you Long Bomb nuts out there the best comparison would be Edition Two from 2008 but it has a more pure fruit profile. It will easily be the most “friendly” Long Bomb to date.
2) Cabernet Franc - This is a delicate yet very fruit driven Cabernet Franc. It really is not like any other we have made and it is going to be great at the dinner table. The best way to describe it would be a hypothetical child of the 2010 and 2013 versions. It has the structure of 2013 but the fruit profile more similar of the much riper vintage 2010. Will be mostly absorbed in the Vine Club packages and at the Fall Release party.
3) Nevaeh Red – The most complex vintage yet and only a touch less dense than the 2010. I personally think that is a good thing as it gives the wine a better drinkability. The tannins are like silk. This is also by far the most “terroir” driven Nevaeh so far being only eclipsed probably by the 2015. There is a great mineral component with the ripe fruit and is very pure. I love this wine.
4) Tranquility Red – a very small crop this vintage (much like 2015). While there will not be a lot of Tranquility 2014 it is sooo good. This is probably the most like vintages prior to 2012 when we found the American oak showing through a bit too much. The big difference again is the quality of tannins, although they are still powerful in this wine thanks to the Tannat. Definitely one to lie down. Will be mostly absorbed in the Vine Club packages and at the Fall Release party.
5) Boneyard Cabernet Franc – Just a tiny bottling designated solely for the 2017 Boneyard Club package that is an expression of the Hill Top block of Cabernet Franc. These are our oldest Cabernet Franc vines and ones that we find show great concentration of red berry fruit, crisper acidity and firm tannins. Cool stuff.
6) Boneyard Unrefined Red – This is a delicate and fresh style with really impressive fruit and just enough herbal tones to add complexity. The wine is a style instead of a definition of place that was made in older barrels to allow the fruit to be friendly and forward. Built to work equally hanging on the patio or sipping with some great summer grill outs.
7) Boneyard Cabernet Sauvignon – A really cool blend of Tranquility and Nevaeh’s Road Block Younger Vines (planted in 2004). The Road Block offers great purity of fruit and delicacy while Tranquility is density, power and complexity. Combined made for a really interesting Cabernet Sauvignon. For those who have tried the Winemakers Select wines, think Bin 4 2008.
8) Boneyard Pinnacle – A tiny quantity of our favorite juice of the vintage to replace the Syrah. It is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah which obviously makes it different, but this wine is a beast. Powerful, structured, intense and built for the cellar. It has incredible fruit today but it will have a long life. This will pretty much only be available in the Boneyard Club packages starting with the 2016 that was just released.
9) Killer Cluster Cabernet Sauvignon – Without a doubt the “biggest” wine we have ever made. If you want in your face fruit and huge structures this will be the wine for you. We were able to source some killer Cabernet from a small vineyard on Red Mountain in Washington farmed by the famed Dick Bouchey. We never planned on making Cab for Killer Cluster until this opportunity arose. It is insane stuff.
10) Killer Cluster Vinho Vermelho – This is a wine to either decant and serve with some big ol’ hunks of lamb or beef, or to simply lie down and forget. From the Red Heaven Vineyard on Red Mountain this blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Cao and Souzao is certainly structured. It shows both the classic dusty minerals of Red Mountain and the aggressive tannic nature combine with the dark fruit and rich tannins of the Portuguese varieties. I love this wine, but be warned it might bite back.
11) Other wines to be bottles in August:
a. Killer Cluster Syrah – big rich and juicy style from Crawford Vineyard in Yakima Valley.
b. Killer Cluster Mourvedre – funky and wild classic Mourvedre. Great structure and complex animal like notes with brambly fruit. From Gunkel Vineyards in the Columbia Gorge.
c. Killer Cluster Galets – a cool Rhone style blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah and Cinsaut from vineyards around the Columbia Valley in Horse Heaven Hills, Columbia Gorge and Yakima Valley.
d. Killer Cluster Tempranillo – great purity of fruit held together with an impressive acidity and firm tannins. From Uplands Estate on Snipes Mountain.
The 2015 reds have just finished their first blending. For the most part I categorize the 2015 reds as being dense but not heavy. They have a great intensity of fruit and the tannins are so pure and seamless. They have such a great ability at showing site as well. This is the first year in a while that all red varieties regardless of the blend (including Boneyard Unrefined Red, Long Bomb, etc) are all exclusively Loudoun County fruit. There were issues with rain in a lot of the state that affected the reds in particular, but we only had a 3-4 day rain event that really did not affect the end fruit greatly based on timing. It may in fact have even helped the wines by giving the vines a needed drink to hang the fruit a little while longer. These are some real stand out wines and they can be tasted on May 14th at the barrel tasting (April 30th is sold out).
The 2015 later release whites show the vintage very well as well as the sites. Like the earlier release whites you can certainly see some of the exotic characters and how they are working with some more primary bright fruit notes. The acidity in 2015 is also impressive making these wines fresher and more food friendly. The big difference with the later release whites is that come from some of the best blocks that show added character and have more density. There will be more Nevaeh than ever before and there will be a small amount of a new Single Vineyard Viognier from Bethany Ridge in Waterford. These wines will really excite people and will also be tasted at the barrel tasting.
In the Vineyard
Let’s get the elephant out of the room. This is being written at a time that everyone is talking about the past week and horrendously cold weather. First, let me start by saying the cold would normally not be a problem. What made the cold a problem was the abnormally warm winter and especially March. There was also a lot of soil moisture so essentially the vines were jump started way too early. The other thing that needs to be understood is that no one will really know if there is extensive damage in Northern Virginia for a while. The cold was not a frost event on shoots. That is easy to tell within hours really how extensive the damage is. The cold that came through last week was more about damaging potential fruit buds that are not yet visible. We did not have shoots yet and only Chardonnay had significant bud break. Many of the late budding varieties would still have been hardy down to almost 20 degrees. If the buds were swollen (Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Viognier) then around 26 was the magic number we thought. Even the Chardonnay that had bud break it was dependent on if any leaves had yet unfolded and they were good from somewhere between 27-30 depending on the development and leaves unfolding. In the Nevaeh Vineyard we hit 24 degrees at the lowest part of the Pond/Road block (where they intersect). There were not buds really pushing in that area but it gives an idea of the temperature on April 6th
. The air was still that night so on the Hill block with our most advanced Chardonnay we were able to stir the air with a massive fire in low lying areas. That drew the cold air down and warmed our Hill Block Chardonnay to 28. Was it enough? We will never know….But the fire was really impressive, just ask anyone from around Lucketts who though Tarara was no longer J. On Sunday, April 10th
we hit a low of 25 for only a brief minute and the real low was 27 that we saw for any real time period. It was however quite windy which meant there was not warmer atmospheric air so there was nothing that could be done. Again, like everyone else we likely won’t know if there is sufficient damage for a few weeks when the shoots come out and we see if there is potential fruit or not.
So what are we really doing other than burning stuff right now? Well, my buddy Kevin is gone again. He is back where he should be driving a tractor. This is when the season starts rolling like crazy. We are just finishing our final touches on pruning and tying. The big thing at the moment is soil work for the season.
Kevin is busy out there doing the following:
1) Sub-soiling and cultivating every other row. We subsoil down 20 inches and allow some oxygen into the soil and also help drive the roots down opposed to laterally. We also cultivate every other row because our site has less vigor than more around here and our vines are a little older. They need less competition from the grass cover.
2) Planting Rye and Clover in every other row. We alternate year to year with every other row cultivated and the other planted with rye and clover grass. This is our working row but also adds back organic matter and nitrogen once tilled in next year.
3) Cultivating under the vine. I hate herbicide and see no need for it. We kill back the weed growth under the vines with a tiller equipped to stir the soil and rip up the weeds. It also allows some aeration to the roots and we feel is a critical part in our vines health.
4) Planting wild flowers. I also hate insecticides (essentially we hate sprays) so our goal is to not do it. Over the past few years we have planted more and more wild flowers to introduce more beneficial insects to create a healthier eco-system but also drive down the pressure from un-wanted pests like Japanese beetles and grape berry moths. This addition of wild flower blocks has pretty close to eliminated our need to do anything for insects which is healthier for the vines and all those around them. It is also better for the environment to give a better home for native insect species and have less mono-culture than many vineyards.
It is the start if another year of driving our vineyard to be healthy, productive and full of great new fruit. Can’t wait to taste the results.