Visits with Louis always move too quickly. Having the entire team together is always something we look forward to, and while we work hard and efficiently when we're together, we always leave time for play. (And play, we did!)
Jean-Baptiste, one of Louis' long-time friends and fellow French winemaker, came along for the ride, and experienced the Finger Lakes for the first time. What is truly remarkable about this region is that you don't have to go out of your way to introduce someone to this place and the people, it just happens organically. When an unknown person arrives in the Finger Lakes, there may as well be a line out the door of people waiting to introduce themselves and pass on one of their favorite local pastimes or watering holes. The community is woven so tightly here, which is one of the many reasons we love doing what we do, where we do it.
Back to work... Although our rosé production is small—about 100 cases this vintage—it's a fun project for us, and was the first item on the agenda. We were all pleased to see it retain the intensity and expression of the 2015 vintage that we all loved so much. The next big task during Louis' visit was finalizing all of the cuvées: Classique, Les Alliés, and Single Vineyard wines. This means that each and every barrel and tank were tasted, ample notes were taken, blending trials were conducted, and after countless samples and discussion, the wines were realized. Every year it's fascinating to see the sometimes drastic differences between vineyards and terroir when tasting the wines. In our tasting of 2016 Rieslings, we noticed one powerful vineyard (you'll have to wait to find out which one...) that was so expressive, even adding 3% of it into our Classique bottling changed the entire dynamics of the wine. All-in-all, the wines from the 2016 vintage were full of character and finesse, wines that we are proud to be the first to have seen the entire winemaking process from start to finish in our new facility.
It is important for us to constantly taste, to let our palates and our minds experience and understand the world of wine around us. Everyone on the team is encouraged to document the various wines that they try (especially Riesling and Pinot Noir), and share their impressions. The opportunity to taste together is always the most beneficial, and allows us to engage in lively discussion, analysis, and sometimes debate. It was a treat to taste some of the older vintages from Saint Cosme (2004 Les Deux Albion, anyone?) and sample Riesling and Pinot from around the world, each with their own story and personality.
What did we do for play? Aside from taking pleasure in beautiful wines and the Michelin 3-star meals that Rick cooked up, we also wrangled in our bravery and jumped into one of many creeks feeding into Seneca Lake. Nothing is quite as invigorating at 9am as a chilly dip into a pool of fresh water (right, Louis?). We warmed up with a bonfire at the winery, had coffee and pastries, and shared some good laughs about the lunacy that just happened.
These are the moments that remind us of how much we love what we do. Having the team together, seeing our wines come to life before our eyes, and taking in all that the Finger Lakes has to offer (cold streams and all) is the life force of Forge.