Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Morales!!! Annefield Vineyards Harvest

I am an Autumn fanatic: just the thought of October gets me all, well, a little crazed.  It's those crisp mornings where you find yourself slipping into your warm fuzzies after months of flippies.  And the east coast big Fall change:  the closet switch.  Isn't it like a birthday or Christmas? Hey, Mr. Red Sweater, it's good to see you.  How's it hanging Macgyver-like khakis--can't wait to do some serious exploring in your sweet, many-pocketed embrace.

So best thing to do on the first of October--Annefield Vineyards Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon harvest! We arrived bright-eyed Saturday morning, a brisk 62 degrees registering on the truck's temperature gauge.  Owners Stephen Ballard and Michael Leary (and dogs) greet the handful of volunteers with coffee and croissant, amid their beautifully restored 1858 Italianate villa house which is absolutely breathtaking.

A car ride down the road and we're off to the vineyard site, tucked inside a cluster of tall trees, birds of prey calls piped in to deter the birds from devouring the grapes. A quick tutorial from the professional crew and it's time to snip--thank the wine gods we brought gloves, otherwise I'd be licking the grape juice off my fingers: that's the stuff alright. As I'm snipping (and trying desperately not to chop off a finger) I'm noticing lots of bumble bees, hornets and harvestmen (daddy long-legs), a sure sign of a healthy vineyard.  Paul Mierzejewski, vineyard consultant for Annefield was on hand of course and he commented about how "good the vines looked" compared to other vineyards around the county.  Could it be because Annefield uses biodynamic methods, namely compost teas which act as innoculating agents against pathogenic organisms.  If those aforementioned good insects are any indication, I certainly think so.

Cabernet Franc cluster
 A brief lunch respite, graciously provided by Stephen and we're back at it--finally finished with our two rows! Man are we slow. We're looking forward to the wine tasting up at the main house.  The 2010 Viognier is stunning! I knew it was a Viognier before my beak hit the glass--honeysuckle, orange blossom, almond paste and a little tobacco.  The palate confirms what my nose knew:  more of the above, a neat backbone of acid, a distinct minerality and a long finish.  Well done.  My other perennial favourite is the 2009 Cabernet Franc--pure raspberry, spice and a delicate whiff of violets.  Tannins are weighty, and the interplay between earthiness, fruit and herbs stands out. 

Annefield Tasting Room
Well, I think six plus hours at Annefield Vineyards is enough, and we say farewell for now, wine-satiated and feeling all around good--there's just a friendly, cozy vibe about the place that makes you want to curl up on a setee.  Goodnight Cooper.



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