The rainy season for us started out strong but unfortunately mother nature has not delivered any significant amount of rain this past January which historically has been a “rainy” month for us. After last year’s dismal 13.4 inches of total rain the 25 inches we have received so far to date seems like a considerable amount until we look at our historical average of 38 inches. Unless we receive consistent storms in the next two months, the drought conditions will persist for us here in Sonoma County. While we have not had the rain we anticipated in January, it has been persistently cold which has delayed the need to get into the vineyard and prune. For us pruning is a two-step process. Our Vineyard Manager, Alvaro Zamora will complete a pre-pruning pass prior to the final pruning. Because of the cooler temperatures, we are finishing up the pre-pruning right now. If we had warmer temperatures, during this time of year the vineyard crew would have already completed final pruning.
A row of pre-pruned vines
Pre-pruning however is still an important step in the vineyard management process. It is not uncommon for fully developed shoots to reach six feet in length. Often these shoots hang over the top wire, getting in the way of precision cuts during pruning. The angle and length of the final prune is crucial for the success of the vine during the growing season. When there are several old shoots in the immediate line of sight, it is difficult to make the best cut when pruning. When weather turns towards spring, it is best to make the final cut. There will then be less cane to work with so crews can focus on the cut itself, the angle and number of buds. With the final cut, the warm and dry weather allows for these open cuts to heal quickly. Disease causing fungal spores then have much less of an opportunity to infect the fresh cuts, which gives the vines the best foundation for a healthy start to the growing season. Finally, pruning allows for a later timed final pass which can help delay bud break to prevent damage during an early frost season.
Vineyard Manager, Alvaro Zamora, pre-pruning our Estate Vineyard
Assessing a Wine
I am incredibly grateful to have spent the last two decades as a Winemaker and Cooper. Both are fascinating industries and allow me to tap into my inner craftsman. As a Winemaker, it is important to continually assess and monitor the wines from start to finish and follow the progression closely. After a wine is finished, it is most satisfying being able to share the final product with our team before it is formally released. Recently, I led the first Educational Virtual Session of 2022 with the Ron Rubin Winery team reviewing the recently released 2019 Ron Rubin Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. 2019 was an exciting vintage, and I’d like to share the notes from this session. The below is an example of the framework I use to assess each finished wine.
A poured glass of 2019 Ron Rubin Russian River Valley Pinot Noir – ready to be enjoyed!
SIGHT AND TASTE
First, you must assess the color, aroma, and palate. For the 2019 Ron Rubin Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, the following was notated:
- Color: glowing ruby red
- Nose: ripe red cherries, red rose and all spice
- Palate: textured cherry pie, warm berry and vanilla
Next, it is best to assess the structure of the wine reviewing the body, oak style, acid and tannin content:
- Body: the body is medium bodied, light and silky
- Oak: low to medium, and well-integrated
- Acid: medium and bright
- Tannins: silky and approachable, classic for a Russian River Valley Pinot Noir!
Lastly, note the overall quality of the wine referencing its overall balance, intensity, complexity, length of finish and age ability:
- Balance: beautiful fruit purity and well-integrated oak with soft and silky tannins
- Intensity: very good – the 2019 Ron Rubin Russian River Valley Pinot Noir has good concentration on palate with pleasing texture
- Complexity: ripe and fruit forward, cheerful, and approachable
- Length: solid – this Pinot Noir lingers on palate for a good amount of time
- Age ability: 5 years, as this wine will develop secondary notes with age
I hope you can take away some of the notes from the evaluation described above and use the same, or similar structure, whenever tasting wine!
Assessing the aromas from the 2019 Ron Rubin Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
On behalf of the entire team here at Ron Rubin Winery, we wish you all continued good health!