John Rieping/The Madera Tribune
Guests laugh and taste a variety of dessert wines at Quady Winery during the Wine Trail’s monthly Wine Showcase Day on Saturday.
Vineyards impacted by heatwave streaks
High heat this past weekend didn’t stop the flow of tasters to seven wineries taking part in the monthly Wine Showcase Day organized by the Madera Vintners Association.
“These little mini events got developed a while back to just try to build foot traffic and to showcase different wines … Sort of like how the Wine Trail event is but in miniature form,” said Darin Peterson, MVA board member and Quady Winery winemaker.
A Wine Showcase Day takes place on the first Saturday of every month in which there is no Wine Trail set, said Cindy Schafer, co-owner of San Joaquin Wine Company.
This month’s theme was “Grapes to Wine,” so San Joaquin Wine Company allowed visitors to taste chardonnay and cabernet grapes, bottled wines, and filtered and unfiltered samples of wine drawn from their stainless steel fermentation tanks — before being aged in wine barrels.
“They can taste the grape and they can taste the bottle. Then they can taste the younger wines and just see the difference how the weather of a year, the growing conditions (and) everything affects how the wine will taste,” said Schafer.
The weather has certainly shaped the fruit of the vine this year.
“For us, there are challenges with the big heat streaks that we’ve been getting,” Peterson said. “Both the assistant winemaker and myself have noticed in our travels looking around at the vineyards that we deal with that if it gets really really hot the vines will shut down. So their progression and maturation will actually stop. That makes our work harder, because we have to schedule when the grapes will be harvested.”
The temperature also makes vineyard work harder, especially during harvest.
“It wears on the people too,” he said. “You gotta be vigilant about getting enough water and breaks, and you just get sluggish. “It’s a stressful time of the year. For us at Quady, we often also do a lot of work at night as well. So we’re shifting on and off, and you go home to a hot house — 105-plus (degrees) — and it’s hard to sleep. They come and go. It’s been a bad year for that for sure.”
That doesn’t mean it will be a bad year for wine however.
“We’ve got to use our skill to make choices, and maybe pull something earlier rather than let it sit and decline. You always have to wrestle with that. It really helps to work with really good growers and have your own staff trained … to be a set of eyeballs out in the vineyard … That helps the timing of the call,” he said.
Birdstone Winery, San Joaquin Wine Company, Fasi Estate Winery, Ficklin Vineyards, Papagni Wines, Quady Winery and Toca Madera Winery participated in Wine Showcase Day on Saturday. Advance tickets for the next day is $5 online.
For information on showcase days, visit www.maderawinetrail.com/wineshowcase.htm