We hope this finds you happy and most importantly healthy. By now we are all well aware of the severity of the Coronavirus. It has been a difficult course to navigate as we are constantly learning and adapting to the new realities, all the while the uncertainty is quite unsettling to say the least. That being said, we are focusing our energy on positivity and gratitude. Thank you for your support as friends and fans of our wines. Your impact has been immeasurable.
We spent much of the first half of the year continuing to work on our tiny house, which in its former life was a water tank house. It has been extremely rewarding watching the progress day to day and it has helped us focus on that which we could control. As the year has progressed we have spent more time in the vineyard, stringing new irrigation lines to propel juvenile replants, removing unwanted growth and mowing. This all helps to create just the right environment for a fruitful harvest.
As our attention turns to our busiest time of year each fall, we are planning for the bottling of the 2019 vintage, the labeling of the 2018 vintage and of course harvest is right around the corner. It is a wonderful time of year.
Many of you knowingly and some unknowingly tasted the first little bit of our estate fruit from its inclusion as part of the 2017 vintage Russian River Valley Pinot Noir blend. The 2018 vintage will offer the first stand alone bottling of our estate fruit. We are tickled to be able to offer you an appellation bottling from the Green Valley of Russian River Valley appellation. The majority of this sub appellation is encompassed among the rolling hills between the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast appellations and it comprises an area of 19,000 acres of which only 3,600 acres are planted to grapes. Vineyards continue to share this area with apple orchards and other cool climate crops. The dominant soils are Goldridge and Sebastopol sandy loam which are both extremely fine grained which helps to limit vine vigor. The hallmark of the appellation is the cool climate, sea breezes and fog. The easterly limit of the Green Valley appellation is a mere twelve miles from the Pacific Ocean.
For many years we have communicated the ups and downs of our vineyard. How it was originally diseased, necessitating a replant. We have yearned to promise that there would be great fruit coming from our estate vineyard located on our homesite in this wonderful little sub appellation located on the western edge of the Russian River Valley. Up until now it has all just been wishful thinking. With the release of the 2018 Estate Vineyard we can finally stop hoping, stop talking and let the wine tell its own story. Although the vines are still young at this stage, we are quite excited about what the future holds now that we have been able to taste three consecutive vintages, with each successive vintage offering more fruit maturity and depth of expression. Stay tuned for the 2019 vintage which may offer our first designated estate bottling.
2018 Vintage Retrospect
This was a growing season to cherish. 2018 started with a mild spring leading to an even bloom which provided a consistent fruit set. Summer temperatures were mild throughout which allowed for a slow and even development of the grapes. A long slow growing season void of any early fall rains allowed the fruit a long hang time which provided fully mature fruit resulting in naturally balanced wines. These wines will be appreciated right out of the gate and even more so for those that can allow the wines some additional development.
The 2018 vintage of Pinot Noirs is comprised of three vineyard designated bottlings and three appellation bottlings. These Pinot Noirs offer very aromatic wines of lush and bold fresh fruits, modest tannins, low pHs, pronounced acidity and complimentary oak nuances. The tasting experience is one of balance, expressive finishes and the oh so important keep you coming back for another taste component. These wines can be enjoyed immediately, but will reward those that cellar their WesMars.
2018 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, Hellenthal Vineyard
Passing a glass beneath one’s nose offers inviting aromas of stone fruits, hints of cocoa, a dash of creamy vanilla and perhaps a touch of forest brush. The mouth reveals bold flavors offering a palette of fruits from plum, peach, maybe even some apricot upfront followed by darker elements that suggest blackberries or black currants. The whole of this experience is a pretty Hellenthal with supple tannins, showcased acidity, forthright and weighty, yet feminine by nature that finishes long on the palate.
2018 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Balletto Vineyard
While the Hellenthal offers a mélange of aromas and flavors due to its multiple clonal make up, the Balletto is unabashedly aromas of dark berries, spice, anise and caramel or toffee. The mouth reveals flavors of black and blue berries, some tart cherry, that typical white pepper and hints of citrus rind. There is a wonderful balance between the fruits, acid and tannins that drive this experience to its voluptuously long and engaging finish.
2018 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Oehlman Vineyard
A waft from your glass delivers aromas of red fruits, raspberry cream, rose petals and a pungent floralness that borders on perfume. Once tasted, flavors of lighter reds such as raspberries come first followed by red cherries, a slight suggestion of cinnamon or clove, with a touch of orange rind. This is one of those vintages in which Oehlman has a more masculine personality with a big bodied finish.
2018 Pinot Noir, Green Valley of Russian River Valley Estate Vineyard
One of our pre-purchase attractions to our home was the fact that our future vineyard would be in the Green Valley appellation. The Green Valley appellation is unique in that it shares traits with both the Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Coast appellations. The wines produced from Green Valley are typically darker and more tannin driven than its Russian River Valley neighbor to the east, but lighter and prettier than its Sonoma Coast neighbor to the west. This bottling is exclusively Martini clone. The nose reveals dark plum, grape aromas, cola and minerality. The palate confirms flavors of black plum, currants, dried cherries, with hints of tea leaves and an acidity that is refreshingly crisp. This experience is long lived and invites you to take another sip.
2018 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
This year’s Russian River Valley has captivated us from the first tasting. It has interesting and thought compelling aromas that offer both light and dark fruit expressions, perhaps a black tea or all spice, in addition sandalwood or forest floor. A taste offers an explosion of fruits that spans the whole spectrum with stone fruits, fresh berries, some dried fruit elements mid palate all wrapped up with ample fruit and barrel tannin structure that holds the finish in high regard. As is frequently the case with appellation blends, the varied elements that make up this blend are extremely cohesive.
2018 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
This year’s S.C. blend is a slight departure from the typical make up with a larger percentage of Hellenthal used in the blend. The aromas offer the best of both worlds with both black and blue fruits, a hint of white pepper and a vanilla undertone. The palate follows suit with flavors of black ruby plum, blackberries, notes of cocoa, a mere suggestion of white pepper, modest tannins, coupled with a zippy acid edge that creates a palate quenching long finish.
Is it a high alcohol wine or not?
Many wine consumers lock in on a wine’s alcohol percentage. Is this the right approach? It certainly is important to be aware of the alcohol level of any wine that one consumes. It can tell a part of the story.
Many of you would be surprised to know that wineries are legally allowed to label their wines with an alcohol percentage that is within 1.5% of the actual alcohol in wines above 14% alcohol and within 1.0% on wines that are below 14% alcohol. Therefore a wine labeled at 14.0% could in actuality be 15.4%. The importance of just what is stated on the label may have already lost some relevance to you.
What if we were to tell you that wineries are legally allowed to add any amount of water to their fermenting grapes that they deem necessary to successfully complete fermentation. This is a practice frequently employed to significantly lower the alcohol level for taste or tax reasons or both. To say it differently, when grapes are harvested with an extremely high percentage of sugar and then diluted back down to a low level of sugar this produces a wine with a low level of alcohol. Is this a low alcohol wine or a wine with very ripe flavors diluted by water?
Our approach is and has always been to harvest the grapes at the earliest opportunity with the least amount of sugar and the most natural acid negating the need for water additions or altering the alcohol on the wine label. Regardless of the actual alcohol percentage we know this method consistently makes the best tasting and longest lasting wines. This difference in a wine’s longevity becomes magnified over time.
Visiting WesMar Winery
We missed you.
Spring came and went with no open house, shelter in place we did and it was as quiet as a mouse.
The sound of the cork popping as pulled from the bottle, was the one thing that made us feel coddled.
Should another stretch without you, as wretched as this, last much time, we will surely be amiss.
Perhaps together we can make it alright, if you were to join us, it would send our spirits out of sight.
Shall we set a date, virus be damned, as safely as possible is our present plan.
With hands washed and distance a plenty, masks in place on exit and entry.
The wine will flow at safely distanced stations, for it is the 2018’s that you are sure to be tasting.
Should you feel as strongly as us, please know that in us, your safety can trust.
We look forward to seeing you soon.
We want to thank you for the opportunity to present our wines to you. We are very pleased with the 2018 vintage wines and know they will please your palate as well.
Sincerely, Kirk “Wesley” and Denise “Mary”