Thursday, May 18, 2006

Chancellor, Traminette, and Vignoles

At this time of the year, our tasting list begins to change dramatically -- and seemingly from one moment to the next. As we say good-bye to one vintage after another, new wines quickly become ready to introduce.

And in the meantime, the tasting list can get quite skewed in one direction or another.

We try to maintain a list of 12-15 wines at all times, but May's tasting list can look quite funky! Right now we have quite a few dry white wines, but only one semi-sweet (the category that's often the backbone of our tasting list). And currently the list looks quite heavily weighted in the fruit wine category.

We recently read a nice article on the Pioneer Wine trail that described our wines as "easy-drinking wines that combine fruit flavors and wine grapes." Yes, our April tasting list did include some of those wines. And our tasting list always includes a few. But that's only a part of our repetoire. We also do terrific, multi-layered reds and crisp, fruity whites.

So, what's coming soon to the Sandhill Crane tasting list? In the next 4-6 weeks look for a lovely, rich Proprietor's Reserve Chancellor that will cellar very well, a return of our popular Blushing Crane (with a fun new label), both a dry and a semi-sweet Traminette (one of our favorites), and shortly after that a return of our long-lost "Serenade" (a sweet Vignoles) and possibly a dry Vignoles, as well.

It'll be a very interesting few months to watch as our tasting list continues to evolve!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Shifting Weather

From the beginning I've been amazed at the number of hats a winery owner wears: winemaker, farmer, business owner, marketing expert.... The variety of expertise required is amazing! Around our place, we're lucky in that we can spread the workload around, but in other ways, we all share the various responsibilities.

Although none of us started out as farmers, that is certainly part of the core of a winery/vineyard. So much of our success each year depends on our crop. Yes -- we purchase large quantities of wine grapes from other Michigan growers. But our own crop will always be important.

As it can be in Michigan, this spring's weather has been crazy. Every year there's a different variation. This year started out very warm and stayed that way for quite a while. That's always scary -- blossoms come out too quickly and are susceptible to cold spikes. Which, of course, is what happened next.

About 10 days ago we heard that grape growers in the Allegan area experienced a freeze, with temperatures down to 23 F. Of course, the grapes were just budding out and at their most tender. Now it's just a matter of waiting to find out how much permanent damage was done.

Up until about 24 hours ago, we'd been experiencing a very dry spring. Since then it's been raining amost constantly. The word is that it will continue raining for another 4 days straight.

What next?