Wishes of health and happiness for you and your loved ones. Each year that thunders by reminds us of the preciousness of life. We strive to enjoy each other, our families and friends each and every day.
In addition to our many winery duties we have been busy working around our property tending to everything from the home vineyard to various maintenance items around the houses. Earlier this year we did a minor remodel of the original circa 1910 one bedroom house. Most recently we have started to undertake a major remodel of the original water tank house that once upon a time held a large redwood tank three stories high to supply pressurized water to the 1910 house. It has been both exciting and rewarding to work towards preserving these two historical structures. For fun in early January we ventured off to one of our favorite little Mexican villages for a relaxing vacation. Subsequently, we spent a lovely week in Maui with family helping them to celebrate a monumental wedding anniversary. We are now turning our attention to fall which brings about the lion’s share of the year’s work. We labeled the 2017 vintage in June, which will be released in November. The 2018 vintage was transferred from barrels to bottles in late July. This newsletter was finalized in early August. As you read this we are checking vineyards, placing fermentation tanks, checking harvest equipment and taking one last deep breath in preparation for the 2019 harvest. Crazy, yes. Hectic, yes. Our favorite time of year, YES!
Estate Vineyard Update
A new day has dawned. Our estate vineyard has been growing without issues for the last two years demonstrating tremendous vine growth and development. The numerous missing plants due to death by natural causes, gopher consumption or unfortunate tractor incidents have been replanted so that the vineyard is at full capacity. Our once troubled adolescent vines have turned the corner to exhibit young adult maturity. The vines have developed quite a trunk girth in the last six years. We have been able to pull back on irrigating as the roots have extended deeper into the subsoil. As we currently look out of our windows we stare into a jungle of vine canopy some seven to eight feet tall signifying a happy vineyard. We are not only verbalizing the estate vineyard’s maturity, you will experience a taste tease from this years Russian River Valley Pinot Noir which is comprised of 25 percent of our estate fruit. There is a bottling forthcoming next year which is 100 percent estate fruit. We are very excited by the flavor development of our young vineyard and we look forward to sharing it with you.
2017 Vintage Retrospect
Sonoma County’s growing season was anything but “normal”. It started off with record setting rainfalls that were applauded after five years of drought. The increased rainfall delayed the start of the growing season, as the vines waited for the warmer soil temperatures before they pushed their first buds. As the flowering started in spring we experienced a wide variety of weather conditions with late lifting fog, windy days, unusually early heat spikes, all of which made for a diverse mix of conditions. Early summer brought a normal cyclical pattern consisting of a few days of above average temps followed by a week of average temperatures. July brought numerous hot stretches without the morning fog that helps to mitigate the extremes. As August turned to September Sonoma County was hit with soaring temperatures in the upper 90’s causing the sugars in the grapes to spike, so we harvested all of our fruit in the first six days of September. The harvest season was in a total fervor mode. As the season was winding down the northern California fires started on the evening of October 8th. Fortunately at this time 90% of grapes across the counties had been harvested. Everyone in Sonoma and Napa Counties will remember 2017 as anything but “normal”.
The 2017 vintage of Pinot Noirs is comprised of three vineyard designated bottlings and two appellations bottlings.These Pinot Noirs offer weighty wines of firm fresh fruits wrapped in a voluptuously bodied expression. The long lasting flavors are complemented by grainy fruit tannins in the background. These wines are very expressive at this young age and with time will continue to harmonize.
As we have mentioned before, the Hellenthal vineyard can span a range of expressions. Some years it shows itself to be bold and brawny, while other years it is timid and feminine. This vintage offers a Pinot Noir that is more the former. Although shy on the nose at this stage, there are aromas of dark berries, brown sugar and vanilla. On the palate are concentrated flavors of dried cranberries with lesser influences of dark stone fruits. This tannin structured age worthy wine has an encompassing mouthfeel with a concentration that hangs on the palate. Hellenthal lovers rejoice.
2017 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Balletto Vineyard
We have always considered the Hellenthal vineyard the bellwether in the years in which it has excelled, but lately the Balletto vineyard has closed the gap, not only with its consistency, but with its depth of flavors. The Balletto has the most revealing nose from this vintage at this early stage. It displays aromas of candied dark fruits, rose petals with a lesser hint of that typical white pepper. A taste offers a velvety entry of black plum that softens to red plum mid palate. There is brisk acidity, drying fruit tannins, a slight pepper essence leading to a long finish to round out the experience. It is becoming more clear to Kirk what has always been clear to Denise and many of you.
2017 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Oehlman Vineyard
The Oehlman vineyard can wear two distinct masks based on the harvest brix and/or the vintage. Picked earlier with less sugar its profile can be light delicate red fruits quite nuanced by orange zest, baking spices while remaining light on its feet. On the other end of the spectrum, in vintages where the fruit is harvested later with more brix or stemming from a more structured vintage, the expression is bold red fruits, not nearly as nuanced but stronger in flavor and more similar to our other Pinots. This vintage reflects the later. While the nose shows prettiness to it, suggesting delicate red fruits and a dash of spice. On the palate the experience is dark red berries, perhaps mixed with some dried red plum, tailing off with a suggestion of honey or wafer. This vintage is more structured than normal with stronger fruit tannins than most vintages. In spite of its departure from a typical Oehlman, this wine will please due to its strength of experience and will pull in those who might find the Oehlman on the lighter side.
2017 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
Oh boy are we excited about this wine. Is proud parenthood showing through? We know that our estate fruit only makes up 25% of this blend, with 50% being comprised of Oehlman fruit and the other 25% being Balletto fruit. Although our 5th leaf (5 seasons of growth) fruit is young, its components definitely added to the blend. The R.R.V. shows the red fruits from the Oehlman, the body and mouthfeel from the Balletto and a brambly forest component that we are attributing to the estate fruit. This blend shows its true R.R.V. heritage with red fruit elements, tea, modest fruit tannins finishing long on the palate.
2017 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
The Sonoma Coast is a blend of the Hellenthal vineyard (66%) and Balletto vineyard (34%). This wine marries the lush dark fruits from these coastal vineyards and delivers a power packed experience. The nose reveals aromas of black stone fruits, cocoa with a hint of spice leaching from Balletto’s white pepper. A taste reveals a deep brooding experience with candied dark stone fruits, mixed berries, structured tannins with a finish that hangs in the mouth. Due to its blend expect this wine to hold its own against the designates.
Recently Tasted Oldies But Goodies
I frequently get into trouble for objecting to opening any of our oldest library wines without company with whom we can share them. My dear wife usually says, “Aren’t I special enough for one of your best cellared wines?” As you can probably tell at this point it would behoove me to come up with the correct answer to her question. So, WE decided to open some oldies and share some of our most recent experiences with some aged WesMars.
2003 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (a blend of Balletto and Oehlman)
We married these two because they are both Pommard clone. This was the first year that we worked with the Balletto fruit and it was the only year that we purchased the Pommard clone from the Oehlman’s. The wine showed mature melded fruits, both lush and complex. It had the perfect blend of fresh and aged qualities. Should be consumed near future.
2007 Oehlman Pinot Noir
Perfumey aromatics that lure you in, integrated cran-raspberry fruits that are still so fresh, but so harmonious with the added bottle age. Can easily go another 2-4 years.
2000 Sur Lees 1.5L
Our first vintage offering intense aromatics, sweet vibrant fruits although dominated by aged characteristics; after 3 hours open it still offered a captivating experience.
LIBRARY RELEASE SPRING 2020
In spite of our best personal efforts to control inventories one bottle at a time, we are losing the battle. We have cellared every wine that we have ever produced for educational and personal enjoyment. As you can imagine, after 18 years averaging 6 wines released per year multiplied by 2 to 4 cases… well we are sure that you get the picture. Starting in spring 2020 look for an offering of library wines.
What is in a name? Plenty if we are talking about WesMar’s estate vineyard.
We need help in naming our home vineyard. We have considered many of the obvious possibilities such as “WesMar Vineyard” or “WesMar Estate”, but these have come across to us as too generic. What best describes a vineyard? Is it a sense of place or a sense of people? Is it a reference to a plot of land or to the wine produced from the land? Or is it simply something fanciful that might capture the imagination? Is it something that might capture our early challenges in getting the young vines to grow? As you can no doubt gather, we have too many thoughts running through our Pinot Noir influenced minds. HELP!
To give you some background, the vineyard is located in the Russian River Valley’s sub appellation of Green Valley, perched on a hilltop. Due to the vineyard’s location in the southwestern corner of the R.R.V. it is cooler than the R.R.V. proper, but warmer than the Sonoma Coast appellation to our north and west.
Do you have any name suggestions for our vineyard?
Visiting WesMar Winery
We are open by appointment for visits and tastings. We look forward to meeting new people and catching up with old friends. As soon as you know the dates that you will be in our area please reach out so that we can save the date for your visit. We hope to see you soon.
We want to thank you for the opportunity to present our wines to you. We are very pleased with the 2017 vintage wines and know they will please your palate as well.