• An Image Slideshow
  • An Image Slideshow
  • An Image Slideshow
  • An Image Slideshow
  • An Image Slideshow

The Bets Are on the Calendar for the First Day of Harvest!

GrapesamplingsbsamplingUntil now, harvest had been speeding towards us, causing a frenetic pace to finish our Chardonnay bottling, make room in the barrel cellars, prep all the new barrels, order supplies and clean all the tanks. But the cooler weather in early August has allowed us all to breathe a sigh of relief as the ripening slows. Where all of us predicted an early harvest, it now appears that perhaps a normal start is at hand. And why is it that they never learn that I get to decide when to pick the grapes? Makes it hard for me to lose the bet!

- Winemaker Kimberlee Nicholls

 

Summer is Always too Short


Blackberry-Hand-Pies2Good thing I’m already in full summer celebration mode. It may seem a bit early, my summer is soon to be cut short as harvest is speeding ahead whether or not I’m ready. But I’ve been watching the local buckeye trees on my drive to work for the tell-tale signals. First I noticed when they bloomed in May. Typically the grapevines follow a similar bloom pattern. Currently I see the buckeyes are turning brown and beginning to drop their leaves. A trip to the vineyard confirmed what I already knew to be true; veraison was beginning to show in the color of the grapes.

I’ve been entertaining at home with my family, enjoying the lazy summer days. Spending time cooking together with friends and raising glasses of ice cold Markham Rosé. My upcoming visit to my parents’ house will find me in the kitchen with my mom cranking out more epic meals paired with great wines. I know my dad will have picked enough wild blackberries for my mom to have a pie cooling on the counter for us the day we arrive home! That’s what a great vacation is all about in my world, family, friends, food and wine. Guess it’s a good thing that harvest is right around the corner so I can start walking off all the calories as soon as I get back to work…

- Winemaker Kimberlee Nicholls

 

Early Harvest This Year?

 

Hopper Creek MEI continue to be amazed at just how far along we are in our grape growing season. Wandering the vineyards the past week with our vineyard manager, Peter, confirms what I’ve been secretly telling myself - harvest is less than three months away! Only the Cabernet vines have just finished blooming, everything else is already starting to take on size. There appears to be a healthy cluster count which is surprising due to the above average yields last year. The vines are happy with the warm, dry weather and extra pampering in preparation of the drought conditions. Check out the Merlot leaf I’m holding in the photo that was the size of my head!

  Both Peter and I are reminded of the 1997 vintage, one of my first vintages where I focused on the fruit in the field. That year has the historical significance of being our earliest here at Markham Vineyards with an August 7 first day of crush. It was with that in mind that I did what any seasoned veteran would do and ran screaming to my crew immediately pushing our August Chardonnay bottling into July. Looks like our favorite time of the year is coming early, and I am definitely OK with that!

- Winemaker Kimberlee Nicholls

 

Wine is Different for Everyone

 

Wine JudgingHow do I stay motivated, focused and relevant in today’s world of winemaking? It’s always hard to sneak off but I try to take advantage of my winemaking friends’ competitive tastings and experimental trial tastings. Those events bring multiple winemakers together so there is information to be shared. I actually love the specialized trade publications that often spark internal questions here at the winery about how to improve upon an assortment of tasks. And occasionally, you have the honor of being asked to judge wine competitions as I was recently. It was a fascinating perspective into how we all look at wine differently - and that’s OK! It’s what’s makes wine so fun to enjoy and share!

 - Winemaker Kimberlee Nicholls

The Awakening

 

awakeningSo word on the street is that the grape vines are starting to awaken from their peaceful slumber.  Friends who like to get me excited (and they know who they are) have begun forwarding pictures from their own vineyards showing the tender new leaves emerging on their own properties. As a veteran, I’m unfazed by their taunting. It is the time of year for such wondrous things to happen.  A quick look and long chat with one of my growers in the vineyard this morning, shows that the vines are indeed coming to life as the dormant vines begin to weep sap. I’m still hoping for a few more rainy days to replenish our reservoirs while wringing my hands as we wait out the frost season. Now there is something to get excited about!

 - Winemaker Kimberlee Nicholls