Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pouring for Randy

I have surely been poured more than
a thousand wines at tastings over thirty-odd years of writing about wine as an avocation. Now I'm stepping to the other side of the barrel to pour for collectors and the trade at the annual futures tasting in Washington, DC. next Saturday, hosted by MacArthur's Beverages. I'll be writing about that experience, and what is a very good vintage. Prices should be up there since expectations certainly are. What follows are notes about Dunn Vineyard's cabernet sauvignon, its vineyards, winemaking regimen,  etc., written by Randy Dunn's daughter, Kristina, director of marketing: 

      Specifics: We harvest, crush, ferment, press and barrel all our vineyard blocks separately. After 30 months in 100% new French oak barrel (wide and tight grained and several different coopers), we blend the bigger, heavier, more age-worthy lots (usually older vineyards) to form the Howell Mountain wine, and the softer more approachable (usually younger vineyards) along with whatever we purchase from the valley floor to make our Napa .

     Our oldest vineyard was planted in 1972. Our youngest was planted in 2000.  We bought the first vineyard in 1978. Randy was at Caymus (full time day job) and started Dunn in 1979 (as a night and weekend job). The vineyard's 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. We have several different vineyards on our property on Howell Mountain: 35 planted acres, 28 of them in Cabernet Sauvignon, the others containing varietals that we make into home wines.  Vine age ranges from 5-35 years. Our Cab clones are 337, 15, and 4.  And 2 unknowns we call Dunn and Frank. Rootstocks- 3309, St. George, 1104 and 420A..
    Answers to frequent questions:
Vineyard Spacing: 5X10.
Yield: 2-3 tons/acre
Fermentation: 7-10 days for the initial fermentation, with      pumpovers 5 times a day for 10 minutes. 
Diemme Press
100% new French oak barrels,  30 months in barrel. Secondary fermentation in barrel.
Racking: every 6 months
Sterile Filtration prior to bottling.
Bottled in June. We waxed the Howell Mountain bottles in August.  This is done by hand.We bottle about 4,500 cases a year.
Split 50/50 between Napa and Howell. Napa blend for 2011 will be 100% Howell Mountain fruit, just like in 2009 and 2010.  2009 was the first year that the Napa was 100% Howell Mtn fruit. No, we don't own vineyards on the valley floor. 2012 vintage will have Napa valley floor fruit in the Napa Valley wine as we did purchase some fruit that year. 
    Winery particulars: 
    Yes, we do offer tastings/tours at the winery, by appointment only.  Absolutely no weekends as it's Randy and Lori's home. $30/person waived with purchase. Contact me - via email or phone or 707-965-3642. People can buy direct and we can ship to most but not all states. 
     The 2011 will be bottled June 2014, the 2012 will be bottled June 2015. 
     WEATHER in 2011:
     Jan. No rain
     Feb. warm, then rain started end of Feb. Some really cold mornings - 20 degrees.
     March - April In 31 days we had 17 inches of rain. On April 13 rain and hail. April 11th rain, sun, hail. April 20th/21st 89 degrees  Bud break for us on the hill. Some rain 23-25th of April.
     Warm May,  June, rain during bottling. Then back up to the high 90’s.
      July 5th foggy and cold morning. Low 50s at night.
      In 2012 growing season we escaped the spring frost season with no losses. The vines are being managed for leaf density and mildew control. The crop does not look heavy so no thinning will be necessary. Now we wait for more good weather from now through harvest”
     On par with 2009 growing season
    WARM summer days, cool nights until mid August- then HOT!
     Light rain for a few hours one afternoon.
     Heat again in September 4 weeks of high 90’s (last  2 weeks of August and 1st 2 weeks of September).
     First day pick CAB - Sept 24th Monday.
 It will be a great vintage after a wonderful growing season. We are 2000 ft elevation, sun exposure - all aspects. Rich volcanic soil, rocky. Vines have to search for water. We do not dry farm. We are not organic nor are we "sustainable".  We are old-school. Make wines to age, don't hand sort. We're not tech-savvy geeks. We make wine we love and hope others love it as well. And they are all under 14% alcohol. 

      Hooray for that, I say.

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