Between Cellar Tastings, Weekend of Chocolate, and Gift Boxes, there is a lot to love about February at Shelburne Vineyard!
As December falls upon us, and the temperatures drop, our palates and stomachs urge us to change our diets. Spring time calls for rose', summer beckons for crisp whites, autumn brings in semi-dry wines, and winter demands reds. From light salads, to hearty stews, we fine-tune our meals and culinary desires to the weather that surrounds us. Here at Shelburne Vineyard, summer time means cheese and wine pairings on the patio. To us, nothing screams summer like a flight of our Vermont Grown wines, paired perfectly with a selection of locally produced cheeses, overlooking the lush grapevines. As winter approaches, we duck inside to the winery and tasting room, relaxing in our cozy, warm loft. Personally, my desire for sweets explodes when the holiday season hits.
Fortunately for us, our tasting room and winery is located directly across the street from Bijou Fine Chocolates. Kevin Toohey, alongside his wife Laura, daughter Virginia, and son Rowan produce artisanal, European-style chocolates that are truly mind blowing. From chocolate covered almonds, to Italian orange peels coated in dark chocolate, to a wide assortment of fresh truffles and more, Bijou covers all the bases when it comes to sweets.
Born from our past years' Valentine's Day Wine and Chocolate Pairing events, our staff here has been working with Bijou to develop a pairing menu to offer regularly in our tasting room. After a long, intensive (and delicious) pairing trial session, we chose the best four Wine and Chocolate pairings to offer to our beloved customers on a regular basis, so no need to wait until Valentine's Day!
For $17, we are now offering a Wine and Chocolate Pairing, featuring four of our carefully selected Shelburne Vineyard wines, and four delicious, fresh truffles, all paired to produce sensory bliss. We are offering this pairing menu any day of the week, from 11am to 5pm. Please bring a friend or a loved one, and stop by the tasting room to explore the world of Wine and Chocolate. Due to the freshness of the truffles, we keep a small supply of chocolate to ensure the absolute freshest products, but have no fear! If we run out, our staff will promptly run across the street to Bijou for a fresh new batch!
So often people ask us, “So, what do you do now that the grapes are all picked?” Our answer comes with wide eyes and a long list of things going on. So, let’s get into it.
Harvest is behind us and after a record crop this year (67 tons of our own grapes—a phenomenal yield after a perfect summer) what we do now is as important as the meticulous way we managed the vineyard throughout the growing season to ensure another year of award-winning wines.
So far we’ve processed the grapes, constantly cleaning to keep the winery immaculate, ensuring no errant yeasts or bacteria spoil the vintage. Fermentation (the changing of the grape sugar into alcohol) is nearly complete. We’ve also been checking the reds to see if they’ve completed malolactic fermentation, a secondary fermentation that helps soften the acidity and increases their complexity on the palate. This week we pressed the red grapes that have been fermenting, separating the wine from the skins and transferring most of it to oak barrels.
As the wines develop, and even as we began the pressing, we had to decide how to create the final products. This year we’ve gone wild--wild yeasts that is. In addition to our favorite traditional varietals and blends, Ethan and the vineyard staff have created a couple of new ones by allowing the wild yeasts that thrive in our vineyard to do the work of fermentation rather than applying the more typical naturally grown laboratory yeasts. The results will bring two new and slightly different wines to our shelves in the coming months: Wild Louise and Marquette Untamed.
We’re also adding another new red to the vineyard family—Crimson Sails—a Marquette that’s unoaked, fruitier and an easy sipper that will sit nicely next to our popular white wine, Lakeview White.
Ethan’s creativity doesn’t end there. Thanks to the success of our relatively new bubbly Celestial Louise, we’re going natural, pét nat, as they say in the industry, with two new celebratory bubblies created using the champagne like process péttilant naturel. Here we’ll bottle and cap the wine while it is still fermenting, letting the fermentation complete in the bottle to produce soft natural bubbles that will suit a romantic meal at home or a special festivity.
Finally, we’ll be producing a new wine from our lovely, aromatic LaCrescent grapes—this one made in the style known as “orange wine.” Typically white wines are fermented off the skins, but an orange wine ferments the grape while the skins remain. We’re also allowing the wine to go through malolactic fermentation resulting in a finished wine with no residual sugar giving us a dry white wine with a bigger mouth feel and one that pairs with a very wide variety of foods.
Keep your eyes on our website and newsletter for the release of each of these widely different variations on our Shelburne Vineyard favorites. Some of them will be very limited releases, so one way to be sure you’ll get to try them is to join our wine club; others will be in good supply, but stop by often to be sure you get a chance to try them all. We can’t wait for your feedback.
Spring has certainly sprung at Shelburne Vineyard, and our vines are LOVING this pre-summer heat! Not a month ago, the sun was out, but our vines were bare, and now they’re rapidly bursting with life. While we’re not a fan of global warming, there’s definitely something to be said about the heightened temperatures and the amazing plant growth we’ve seen. The stunning greenery around the vineyard this time of year has us excited for the summer months to come, and for all the great events outside that come with it!
This year, the risk for disease has been especially low due to the unusually hot and dry weather we’ve been having. This has helped to keep those pesky fungi out of our vineyards, because contrary to popular belief, they’re not actually the “funnest of guys” when it comes to grape growth. This weather has also been wonderfully supportive of grape blossoming and actually better for pollination overall. The recent lack of moisture has meant less of a chance for rain to wash the pollen from the blooms, resulting in major self-pollination and some happy winemakers, as we should hopefully see a more bountiful fruiting!
So what else is new since we were last seen shaking in our boots harvesting ice wine? Well, this weather has been so nice that we’ve been busy planning tons of outside events. There is of course our ever-popular Bluegrass & BBQ event series, our First Thursday Concert Series continuing, and now Lawn Game Nights, a new addition to our list of free outdoor public events. We can’t wait to have people join us on the lawn in this beautiful weather for food, fun, and most importantly wine! We will also be installing a new and improved outdoor bar for a more enhanced tasting experience. Whether you’re coming in for an evening event, or a mid-day tasting you can enjoy the scenic outdoor setting of our vineyard and grounds.
Breakout your shades and Sangria recipes, Summer is right around the corner and we, including the vines, are more than ready for it!