This is the time of the year when we are bottling our first Rieslings blends. This year, the first blends to go to bottle are our Riesling made from organic (4% Residual Sugar), our Sweet Riesling (about 8% Residual sugar) and our new Riesling (2% Residual Sugar – another post about this Riesling later this week). It is always very satisfying to come to this point after months of work in the vineyard and at the winery. The challenge, and somewhat the fun part of the job, for a Riesling winery like us is blending smartly the different vineyard lots we produce in order to optimize each style we make (we make nine different Rieslings). In order to have plenty of options for blending we make many different lots of wines that are based on the vineyard they came from. The selection for those lots starts during the growing season where we usually sort each vineyard based on their intrinsic potential that year: sparkling base potential, dryer Riesling potential and sweeter Riesling potential. Based on that designated potential, the grapes are picked either earlier in the season (for the sweeter styles so they have more acid to balance the sugar) or later (for the drier styles).
When the grapes are picked, the juices are evaluated pre fermentation to make sure that the designated style we had of this particular vineyard still makes sense. At that point we also refine the target style beyond sweet and dry based on flavor profile, sugar content, acid levels, phenolic content and the Biodynamic or Organic status of the juices. For Dry styles we divide the juices for sparkling, Dry Riesling, Solstice Single Vineyard and Wallula Biodynamic Single Vineyard. For Sweet styles we divide the juices for Riesling (2% RS), Organic and Sweet Riesling. Each lot is then allocated a target final residual sugar and we stop the fermentations based on our juice evaluation in most cases. Finally comes blending times where we pretty much review every single fermentation lot and we always tweak the blends left and right based on our desired final flavor profile, acid level, phenolic level and sugar level. That makes usually for a busy November/December.