Dear Mailing List Member,
While we don’t have a Fall offer of wines this year, we have been quite busy at Rhys in 2007. The 2007 vintage marks the first year that all of Rhys’s five vineyards and 40 acres are in production. After so many years of hard work this is extremely exciting for us, but like many steps along this journey there are some challenges.
While the quality of the 2007 vintage is better than we could have imagined, yields were extremely low. We averaged only 1.2 tons per acre in our now fully mature Alpine Vineyard. From our newest vineyards, Horseshoe Ranch and Skyline, this first crop will only yield a few barrels of wine. Meanwhile at our Family Farm vineyard, we took 1/3 of the acreage out of production in 2007 in order to graft some of the vines to a far superior clonal selection of Pinot Noir. In the typical irony of agriculture, the remaining 2/3s of Family Farm proceeded to produce the best wine from this vineyard that we have seen to date. On the bright side, the Home Vineyard mustered a full barrel and a half of wine that appears to be compare favorably to its 2004 effort. Most importantly, the Rhys terroir experiment is beginning to bear fruit. Each of our vineyards is on a distinctly different soil and geology. Now that every vineyard has wine in barrel, it has become clear that each of our vineyards makes very different, distinctive and expressive Pinot Noir. For us, this is what Rhys is all about.
2007 brought more excitement when we were able to expand the Home Vineyard from .25 to 1.65 acres. The unique eroded sandstone soils of the Home Vineyard produce a wine with terrific fine powdered earth character, but with only 1 barrel it was frustrating when we could not offer it to more of our customers. The new acreage is planted with very tight 4x4.5 ft spacing and we used only the very best and lowest yielding “suitcase” clones. The new planting should produce much more reasonable quantities of this wine starting in 2010.
Many customers have inquired about upcoming releases. In January of 2008, we plan to offer the following wines for Spring delivery:
2005 Alesia Chileno Valley Pinot Noir
2005 Alesia Falstaff Rd Pinot Noir
2005 Rhys Alpine Chardonnay
2004 Alesia Fairview Ranch Syrah
2006 Alesia Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
As we mentioned in the last newsletter, the combination of Spring frost and rainy weather at flowering did not allow for any Rhys Pinot Noir in the 2005 vintage. In order to make up for this, we plan to move the release of our 2006 Alesia Sonoma Coast Pinot forward to Spring 2008. The 2006 vintage in California produced good quantities of extremely balanced and fresh Pinot Noir. In fact, our Alpine Vineyard managed to produce an average of 2 tons per acre. While this is considered a low yield for most California Pinot vineyards, it is enough that we will have good quantities of Rhys Pinot to offer to all customers. We feel that these 2006 Rhys Alpine Pinots are our finest wines to date and we will begin releasing them in the Fall of 2008.
Best Wishes for a great Holiday season from all of us at Rhys Vineyards.