by Chris Russell, Contributor
2018 is drawing to a close, marking another stellar year for 2Hawk Vineyard & Winery. We’re particularly pleased to report we experienced an excellent harvest, despite some daunting challenges. Below you’ll learn what went well, what we’re excited about, and what we’re looking forward to in the future.
The most influential feature of the vintage was the smoke layer that persisted throughout July and August. It brought some concerns, yes, but it also delivered an unexpected benefit: namely, a longer, milder growing season compared to previous years. Longer time on the vine means the harvest was beautifully ripe, with an excellent balance of sugars and acids, requiring few adjustments in the winery.
This ripeness also presents an opportunity 2Hawk Winemaker Kiley Evans is excited about: longer maceration. A few of this year’s reds spent nearly two full months fermenting in contact with the grape skins, compared to a more typical 18–22 days. Kiley is especially eager to see how the 2018 Tempranillo and Malbec benefit from this longer maceration.
Does Smoke Impact the Wines?
We’ve been getting a lot of questions about this year’s smoke. Unfortunately, 2018 was a big year for Oregon wildfires, blanketing the Rogue Valley in smoke throughout July and August. “Everybody wants to know if the smoke affected the wines,” reports Kiley. It’s a reasonable concern, but Kiley isn’t worried.
It’s true that grapes can absorb compounds from smoke that could affect the finished wine. The good news, though, is the smoke wasn’t as intense as it could have been: Kiley estimates the level of smoke at the vineyard as a 3 or 4 out of 10 in terms of intensity.
The really good news is it’s relatively easy to avoid extracting unwanted smoky flavors and aromas by pressing the grapes more gently. Kiley relies on multiple rounds of laboratory and sensory analysis to determine exactly how gently—or not—to press the grapes, and as a result, he’s confident this year’s wines won’t exhibit an unusually smoky character.
2Hawk’s vineyard is now reaching a fully mature state, meaning the fruit we harvest has increasing potential for depth of flavors, and—after aging in barrels—wonderful complexity. This is an exhilarating time for us as each year presents a new opportunity to push the boundaries even further to achieve elegant, balanced, memorable wines that reflect our vineyard’s unique character.
This spring, we’ll be conducting trials to determine which barrels impart the right character to our wines. Different barrels make different contributions to the wine’s aroma, flavor, and tannin structure, so these trials help us ensure the barrels we choose result in the best possible wines. From there, we’ll be aging the wines, performing additional trials, blending, and bottling the wines once they’re ready.
We’ll keep you apprised of the 2018 vintage here on our blog. If you’d like to keep even closer tabs on how our wines are progressing, please consider subscribing to our newsletter, and you’ll receive regular updates in your inbox.
In past blog entries, we’ve discussed some aspects of the harvest, such as how we know when to harvest and where we process the harvested fruit. In future posts, we’ll be following the progress of the 2018 vintage as it makes its way from the vineyard to the bottle. Are there any other aspects of the harvest or the winemaking process in general you’d like to learn more about? Please let us know! We’d love to hear from you.