And just like that, the 2013 growing season is coming to an end. The last of our grapes are expected to go through the destemmer and into the winery over the next few days. Roughly two month after the first beautiful clusters of grapes were processed on our crush pad, it soon will be time to leave the changing colors of the vineyards behind and focus on the action inside the winery. Inside our cellar, the production team is busy with batonnage on the stainless steel fermented Viognier, monitoring the malolactic fermentation of the Syrah and Malbec, and punch downs and pump overs on much of our Walla Walla Valley fruit.
While the captivating aromas in the winery most aptly sum up what is turning out to be a stunning vintage, the specifics of the 2013 season cannot be easily summed up in just a few words. Vintage 2013 started out early with the vines coming out of their Winter dormancy weeks earlier than normal. While we initially expected our Estate Vineyard and the rest of our Walla Walla Valley fruit to come in early, Mother Nature had other plans for us. The temperatures in August escalated and put a halt on the growth; followed by plummeting temperatures practically overnight a few short weeks later, which left the grapes, to say the least, confused. Ripen, stop, go, stop, go, stop, go, it was a rough couple of weeks to endure! We ended up making the decision here at TERO Estates to wait it out for much of our Estate fruit, with hopes that we will be able to avoid a serious freeze – while there have already been several nights where the vineyard fans have come on to protect the fruit, we thankfully we have not dropped below 32 degrees.
By contrast, our friends and vineyard partners from the Columbia Valley had an exceptionally early harvest and as such we were able to bring in much of the fruit for Waters Winery and Flying Trout Wines early this year, which was helpful with spreading out our crush schedule. None-the-less, with the addition of Waters Winery to our family the crush pad has been packed all season, even with our recent pad expansion!
So far as early impressions are concerned, we already are pleased with the depth, acids, and flavors of the juice across the board. We cannot wait to share this Vintage with you in the years to come! We trust you are all enjoying some beautiful, sunny Fall weather and are able to join us soon in the Walla Walla Valley.
If you still have a bottle of our 2010 Estate Merlot in your cellar, we encourage you to crack it open this Fall and enjoy it on a cool evening with a warm, hearty stew.
Beef & Merlot Stew
3 TBS olive oil
4 lb beef chuck, cut in 1″ cubes
1 lb small white onions, peeled
5 TBS unsifted all-purpose flour
4 TSP sugar
2 1/2 TSP salt
Heavy dash pepper
1/2 TSP dried thyme leaves
2 cans (1 lb) Italian tomatoes, undrained
2 cups of Tero Estates Merlot (or any other Merlot you can bear to part with)
2 small bay leaves
4 strips of orange peel (each 2×2 1/2″)
2 lb unpared small new potatoes
1. In an 8-quart heavy pot, slowly heat about 1 TBS of olive oil. Add beef cubes, a few at a time; cook over high heat until well browned on all sides. Add more oil as needed. Set beef aside.
2. Add onions to pot; cook stirring, until slightly browned. Remove onions, and set aside.
3. Remove pot from heat. Stir in flour, sugar, salt, pepper and thyme. Gradually stir in tomatoes and wine. Add bay leaf, orange peel and browned beef.
4. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally; reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 hours.
5. Add browned onions and potatoes; continue cooking 40 minutes longer, or until beef and vegetables are tender.
6. Remove and discard bay leaves and orange strips.
7. Turn mixture into serving dish. Garnish with chopped parsley.
Makes 6 servings.
*If you do not put the Estate Merlot in the pot, please do serve our Merlot with this dish…it is amazing!
The TERO, Flying Trout & Waters team