Often I talk about how our Pinot Noir is closer in style to Burgundy than say Oregon or California. This is due to the difference in flavor profile, color, acid…basically cool climate vs. warm climate. I like this connection because simply, I really enjoy Burgundy but can’t afford to drink much, so it works to make a wine that reminds you of it. I like that connection…
Well now we have a different connection and one that I can’t say I am all that excited about. In the late afternoon on Tuesday August 5th, Hendrix’s birthday, I walked out of my house to get the mail after I had noticed a really cool, actually cold, breeze come through my office. I was concerned as that kind of temperature swing is usually not a good thing. I looked to the west, toward Seneca Lake and saw a big dark cloud on the horizon. Immediately, I thought of hail and the damage Burgundy had witnessed this season and thought “oh shit, not us…”. Within a few minutes the phone begin to ring and the text begin to fly…below is my text from Phil Davis:
Severe hail in Hector...4:46
Upper Pinot pretty beat up….going down over the hill checking…5:10
Lower Riesling moderate, lower Pinot moderate..Standing Stone okay..5:20
Indeed, our Pinot and Riesling blocks at Sawmill Creek took a substantial beating on Wednesday. 50% loss in our upper Pinot block and about 10% loss in our lower Pinot and Riesling blocks. I was celebrating Hendrix’s birthday by cooking him Chicago style hot dogs, his request, so I couldn’t rush over and check out the damage right then but had to wait until the next morning…not easy.
I have spent a fair amount of time in Burgundy listening to growers talk about loosing vineyards due to hail. You stand there and think “wow, that is tough luck and I feel for him.” In reality, I never had a clue exactly what it felt like.
Yesterday morning, after talking with Arlo and Alana, the “Boots on the Ground Canopy Control Squad”, I walked through the vineyards to survey the damage. It was surreal, the sense of disbelief and awe at how quickly things can be lost or drastically changed all due to Mother Nature is fairly uncomfortable. I was in a haze during my drive up to Syracuse pondering and reflecting on the meaning of what draws us to this profession and the risk and disappointments we endure because it is worth it and the pleasure it gives us and others is worth it.
Eric and the crew at Sawmill will do what is necessary to help the grapes recover and all will be okay but it is a stark reminder that growing grapes in cool climates is not for the faint of heart.
All the best,