Now that I’m living in Toronto, I admit I miss living in wine country, close to the vines and wineries. This time of year I was feeling additionally far away from the exciting hustle and bustle of harvest and crush. Thankfully my good friends Glen and Dave at Lighthall Vineyards in Prince Edward County allowed me to stay with them on the farm for a few days to help out with the pinot noir crush.
Lighthall Vineyards is a new winery in The County. Glen bought the vineyard 2008 to establish the small premium winery focused on chardonnay and pinot noir. The vineyard has a longer history, it was one of the first vinifera plantings in The County and has produced some premium grapes and wines, including earlier vintages Huff Estates Sparkling. Eight acres of pinot noir and chardonnay grow on the rocky, limestone rich County soils.
The pinot noir was scheduled to harvested October 7th 2011. On the 6th Glen and I spent the day taking grape samples from the vineyard to check the brix, total acidy and pH, making sure all the equipment was ready for the next day, talking with other vitners about the 2011 crush and preparing a game plan. Friday morning Dave and I were up at six am to get the picking crew together. Dave was responsible for picking crew and driving the tractor during the harvest. It was essential that the crew knew the importance of selecting only the best clusters, avoiding any that had developed botrytis from rains earlier that week or any under ripe clusters. While Dave was busy out in the vineyard, Glen and I set up the crush pad. The destemmer needed to be elevated onto blocks in order to fit a bin underneath to catch the berries, the glycol system needed some tweeking for the cooling plate and then we waited. It was very exciting when the first bin came in! The grapes looked great. We quickly got to work weighing the grapes, and then bucket by bucket we put the grapes through the destemmer, eventually I had to climb in the bin the scoop the rest of the grapes out. Once the first bin was unloaded and the grapes were destemmed, we lifted the second bin with fork lift over the cement fermenter to drain out the juice, and then lowered the bin enough to scoop the berries into the fermenter. It was a very labour intense process. By the time we had one bin destemmed and the berries in the fermenter, another bin of whole clusters were arriving on the crush pad to do it all again. It was lots of fun sticky work that lasted well into the night.
After all the grapes had been harvested, destemmed and left to cold soak in the cement destemmer we rewarded ourselves with pizza and beer. The wine still has a long journey until bottle. In the meantime the 2009 Pinot Noir Réserve Particulière is available in the wine shop. Here are my notes on this wine:
2009 Pinot Noir Réserve Particulière
Medium ruby colour with a definite purple hue. On the nose very pure aromas, loads of sour purple and black fruits such as blueberries, plums and boysenberries, integrated warm baking spices and hints of chalk and earth. On the palate, the wine is dry with adequate acid and fine tannin structure matched with savoury flavours of sour fruits, spice. Moderate alcohol and a lingering finish. A classic County Pinot Noir. Very good wine that would pair well with wild boar belly or medium rare duck breast with a black currant sauce.