Saturday, August 29, 2015

Harvest 2015: The End Draws Near

As we heard a slight drizzle on the roof last night, we were thankful that harvest is almost over for us at Charles Vineyard. As it seems to happen when the season is very cold or very warm, everything came in all at once. We started with Sauvignon Blanc on August 15, and brought in the last of the Pinto Noir for ourselves this past week. All we have hanging on the vine is Semillon (which tends to handle a little water like a champion).

As I have addressed in my two previous posts, it was an unusual year where warm weather and a lack of fruit came together to create the earliest harvest in California to-date. Quality looks good, but there just isn't much of it.

This vintage was unique for us not only because of the early start (we moved bottling back a few weeks and still managed to bottle and pick in the same week), but also because it's the first vintage with baby Evan. I've had to take a little bit (or a lot) of a back seat for the long days, instead having my own long days with our six-month-old. In the best possible way, of course. His fascination with everything that goes on here (tractors, forklift, people, delicious grapes) imbues us with a new sense of wonder at the business we've chosen (it's sheer insanity for a small amount of the time). The middle-of-the-night wakings also add to the harvest fog we normally have, even though we realize that this time will pass very soon.

Our only disappointment with harvest comes with the lack of fruit. We purchased a new tank and chiller for the express purpose of making more Sauvignon Blanc from our estate. Unfortunately, this will have to wait for another vintage. Our Pinot Noirs will also be more limited than usual for vintage 2015.

Right now we have fermenting Pinot Noir in the back, getting several punchdowns (by hand of course!) per day. This will increase and then decrease again until it's time to press the new wine off the skins and put it into barrel. By October we will be done with this process and with the official crush season.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Harvest 2015 Has Started!

It's here! This Saturday we picked our rows of Charles Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, kicking off vintage 2015 for Foursight Wines. It was also baby Evan's first harvest day; he had a sample of some grapes as they arrived at the crushpad (although he likes it a little sweeter)!

My previous post talks about some of the challenges with this particular vintage, but the one we're feeling particularly is the lack of fruit in most of the North Coast. We believe our estate is more than 50% down in tonnage for our Sauvignon Blanc, and 30-40% off in Pinot Noir. Gray, gloomy weather during the spring caused a bad set. Clusters are small, berries are small, and there's not much of them.

Unfortunately for us, that means less production for this vintage. We won't feel it until we release the wines in a few years, but knowing this will make us address the 2016 vintage differently (like producing additional quicker-to-release wines like our Vin Gris perhaps). We also won't be able to use our new tank, purchased for the express purpose of producing more Sauvignon Blanc this year as it keeps selling out too quickly! Murphy's law, right?

The Pinot starts coming in next Friday, after several days of bottling the 2014 Pinot Noirs. Given the small crop, we're planning to focus on our mainstays (Zero New Oak, Charles Vineyard, and Clone 05 Pommard Pinots) and, with the warmer year, perhaps some Paraboll. Wish us all luck!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Harvest 2015: What We're Seeing So Far

   Foursight Winemaker Joe Webb prepared the below post on harvest 2015. Bottom line: let's hope you have a talented winemaker, because this year could be fantastic or it could be, well, not.


   This winter was wetter and milder than the past few (32” of rain as opposed to 20"-22" the last few years).  Bud break was one week early. We had cool weather through flowering in April, which caused shatter in the Sauvignon Blanc (cold weather causes flowers to stay closed and not be pollinated, simply falling off). Shatter means reduced yields, and it looks like our Sauvignon will be scarce this year. 
   The same cold weather caused Millerandage in some of the Pinot Noir, also known as hens and chicks in English. This is a condition that means berries are pollinated, but set improperly. The affected bunches develop berries of different sizes that mature at different rates. It is commonly viewed as a problem, as it reduces yield, but a vintner can use use it to his or her advantage as the berries that do develop tend to be highly concentrated in flavor.
    This past week we saw cloudy days and some sprinkles, which should put harvest back into a normal range, starting in September.
    It will not be a great vintage for farmers (lower tonnage than average) but the potential for concentrated fruit due to that low tonnage combined with more skin tannin and color from the small berries could make for some excellent wines.  Managing tannin from the small berries plus tannin coming from stems and oak will be different than in years past, but the all-mighty basket press is the great equalizer. We employ a traditional, wood-slatted basket press for our wines, which allows us to taste as we press and get the desired amount of tannin before the wines go into barrel. We can also use less new oak for less oak tannin, and more for more.
    To test the fruit before harvest we typically take samples of 100 berries from each block, then test that. Because of the irregularity of the clusters I will be taking cluster samples this year instead. 
   Timing irrigation, if there are any heat waves near harvest, will also be key to keep the little berries from shriveling into raisins.
    This will certainly be a vintage where I feel small wineries with extra attention to detail in the vineyard and winery will show.

Joe Webb
Winemaker, Foursight Wines

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Foursight's Recent Scores, Reviews & Press

A sampling of some recent press for Foursight's wines:

Pinot Report:
Foursight Wines was founded in 2007 by Bill and Nancy Charles and their daughter Kristy Charles and her husband Joseph Webb. The Charles family are long-time winegrowers in the Anderson Valley—the four generations to work the Charles Vineyard property are the inspiration for the winery name. The winery focuses on small-production estate-grown Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Vin Gris. Pinot bottlings include an Unoaked Pinot Noir, a Charles Vineyard designate, a Clone 05 bottling from the Charles Vineyard. The wines are always top-notch, Joe Webb is as great a winemaker as I have seen in the Anderson Valley for sure and Kristy Charles is as hard a worker and as cool of a wine person as I have met in my travels there. Foursight is a great winery and you should make a trip to see them.

2013 Paraboll Pinot Noir, 91 points
Medium ruby color; ripe strawberry and cherry aromas with spicy oak notes; ripe, viscous flavors of cherry, plum and strawberry; silky notes; good structure and balance; long finish. Ripe and balanced Pinot with a lot to offer. --GW

Wine Enthusiast:
2012 Zero New Oak Pinot Noir, 91 points & Editor's Choice

Editors' Choice wines are those that offer excellent quality, or a wine at any price with unique qualities that merit special attention. Full review text to come. --JG

2013 Semillon, 89 points
This dry white wine seems to be all about smooth texture and reserved flavors rather than overt fruitiness. It has a gold, Chardonnay-like color, mild aromas of almond and butter, a rather full body and a lingering but subtle honey-like finish. --JG

Planet Grape:
2013 Sauvignon Blanc, 90 points
Round, soft, clean and Vegan suitable with notes of lemon tart, apple, crème fraiche and almond butter. --CF

Wine Spectator:
2012 Zero New Oak Pinot Noir, 88 points
The dusty hard red candy and sour cherry flavors are trim and spicy in this sleek, refined style, ending with a touch of red plum. Drink now through 2021. 262 cases made. –JL

2012 Clone 05 Pinot Noir, 89 points
Aromas of dill, cedar, dried berry and sage fold over to the palate, with a core of racy, complex blackberry and wild berry. Drink now through 2021. 130 cases made. –JL

Sunset Magazine Wine Competition:
2013 Paraboll Pinot Noir, Silver Medal

Third Annual Anderson Valley Barrel Tasting Weekend!

Our next big event!

Date: 25-26 July 2015
Time: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Join Foursight and 17 other Anderson Valley wineries for the third annual Anderson Valley Barrel Tasting Weekend! We'll be pouring samples of three of our incredible 2014 Pinot Noirs, and selling futures at 20% off for attendees and 30% off for wine club members! Join us for small bites, exclusive pours and a whole lot of summer fun! More info and tickets can be found at Tickets are only $20 and include both Saturday and Sunday events and a logo glass.