Monday, October 12, 2009

Spring Valley Vineyards

On Monday morning I experienced my first vineyard in Washington State.
Just outside of Walla Walla lies Spring Valley Vineyards. Set amongst
steep, rolling wheat fields are some of the best cabernet franc,
cabernet sauvignon, syrah & merlot vines in the country...if not the
world. Serge Laville, a native Frenchman & SVV's winemaker, led us
through some of the oldest blocks of vines they have in order to teach
us about how they manage their canopy & irrigate for this unique
growing area. We are talking about arid, high desert. Nothing could
prepare me for the stark, desolate beauty of the Columbia Valley.
Serge explained that some blocks in their older vines weren't designed
well in terms of their irrigation. They did look a bit sickly but
still had some bunches on them. He said that they had learned quite a
lot from these rows but they weren't the best. To showcase this better
he poured a bottle of wine from the 2003 vintage that contained only
cab franc from those slightly unwell blocks. It tasted hot, unbalanced
& jagged. What a revelation! Serge then explained what was wrong with
the wine, being the vines, & what he was trying to do to in order to
make that part of the vineyard healthy. If we were in Napa the vines
would be manicured to death & they would never pour less than pleasant
wine because in their mind they don't make such a thing. How boring.

SVV's vines weren't the most pleasing to the eye but that's not the
point. It's the health of the vine & the unbelievable wines they can
produce. Thank you Serge.

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