Hand-crafted Crush

Everyone who loves wine should volunteer to work crush some harvest season. The process that takes fruit-from-the-vine to wine-in-the-glass is a fascinating one, and while we all get the basics – pick ripe grapes and let them ferment – there are many dozens of concurrently running strategies that few oenophiles ever have the opportunity to experience in action. It gives one new respect for a great glass of wine.

All of us understand that certain things are ‘good’ winemaking practices, but we may not really know why. It’s good to handle the fruit gently, and since many steps of the process sound rather violent (punch down, crush, squeeze, press, de-stem), it’s interesting to see just how delicately good winemakers treat the grapes.

Case in point…punch down. This is just what it sounds like; while grapes are fermenting in a bin, the solids (grape skins, seeds, stems, pulp) rise to the top, while the juice settles to the bottom. Once or twice a day, the cap, as it’s called, is pushed down into the juice by a tool that looks like a giant potato masher, and the whole thing is gently merged. After punch down, the contents of the bin separate, and the solids rise to the unnamedu45u4top again.

One can assume a number of reasons why this might be done. To keep the cap moist, or extract more juice, or give the juice more contact with the skins would certainly seem to be reasons to go through this repetitive and physically demanding process. But it’s a practice that seems so, well, old-fashioned and inefficient. As you watch it you can’t help but think, “There has to be a better way.”

The truth is, as with many aspects of winemaking, what appears to be an outmoded process is done the way it’s done because it is simply the best way to do it, if your idea of “best” means ending up with quality wine. And while there is a punch down machine, there are a few good reasons to do this arduous task by hand.

Here’s how our winemaker Stephen Hall explained the purpose of punch down…

The long, slow movements of pushing the cap back through the juice stretches the tannins, resulting in more layers. The longer the tannins, the more complexity, flavor and color, attaches to them. By being up close and personal with each bin, the winemaker and his crew can closer monitor the progress of every lot, keeping their nose out for things going right or wrong. There are still opportunities at this point to designate bins for one wine program or another, and there’s no machine that can do that.

Without a doubt there are aspects of the process that have been improved with technology and machinery. But some things are just better done the old-fashioned way. Think about that next time you enjoy your favorite glass of wine from Troon Vineyard..

Lovin’ Our Local Products

It’s almost here: that fabulous, frenetic, and fun-filled season known as harvest.

Let’s face it…wineries that produce their own fruit are farmers, and there’s nothing like harvest season to drive that point home. With one eye on the weather and the other on the vines, our winemaker will deduce the perfect moment to pick this year’s vintage. That “moment” is actually many different moments, as it varies by varietal and location in the vineyard. Some of it is subjective, and some of it is science. It is, nonetheless, one of the most important decisions in a process of crucial choices.

As farmers, we are really supportive of our neighboring producers and purveyors, whether they’re growing grapes or green beans.  The Rogue Valley is fertile land, and we’re fortunate to be surrounded by a bounty of luscious products that are grown and/or produced here. In our Applegate Valley tasting room we’ve put together a few of our favorites which are now available in our marketplace.

Pennington Farms is iconic Applegate Valley. Known for the exquisite jams and syrups derived from their berry fields and fruit trees, this is a family farm at its finest. When we can keep them in stock, you’ll find a selection of jarred Merchdeliciousness…right now we’ve got Luster Berry, Strawberry Rhubarb, and Plum Marmalade.

Salinity Salts is the final word on finishing salts. Every cook will tell you that salt is the most important ingredient, but all salts are not created equal. This local company has a line of exquisite products (and an awesome website: www.salinitysalts.com), and we’re proud to feature several types including the Black Garlic and Lemon Ginger.

Kia’s Kitchen Gourmet Mustards puts French’s to shame. Locally handcrafted in a number of creative flavors and combinations, this is a small operation that deserves to go big, and Troon is the exclusive winery outlet for their products. Try the Lemon Pineapple or  Cucumber Dill, and watch for custom vinegars made from Troon Zinfandel and Druid’s Fluid to be available this fall.

Shibui Finishing Sauce is made by a talented chef from Talent, just a few miles down the road. Made from aged Italian Balsamic, this is a finishing sauce for meats and vegetables that would pair perfectly with our 2012 Foundation ’72 Zinfandel , by the way…

And for the non-consumable variety of goodies, we are now carrying local lavender products for home and body from Lavender Fields Forever.  Though you’re never supposed to wear fragrance while tasting wine, you’ll want to take some of this lovely lavender home.

We invite you to join us at the winery – the summer season is still in full swing and we’re in a mad dash toward harvest. Have a glass of wine on our patio or sample a flight in the tasting room. While you’re here, pick up a few items and support your local farmer – including us!.