Dear Wine Club Members,
Happy February and welcome back to Black Ankle Vineyards! Our winter closing was short this year, but just enough time for us to finish up a bit of the work that has been underway in the tasting room all year. While last year’s look was what we liked to euphemistically call Construction Chic, this year, we are going for a slightly more comfortable, pulled-together feel. Finally!
Our new grotto room (formerly the wine storage cave) is finished and ready to welcome you with a cozy space and open fireplace. We have installed a new cork floor in the tasting room which should make life much more comfortable and help to tamp down the noise a bit. The stone-work on our new back patio is complete, and we are just waiting for some warmer days to make that the perfect space to kick back and relax with a glass of wine. We managed to cover up all the last bits of dangling straw hanging out of the walls (in case you had ever doubted what the walls were really made of, we wanted everyone to be able to get a good long look…). We have put a fresh coat of paint on the walls and voila!, the place has a whole new feel. There are still a few details to put in place, but it feels like we are making some real progress towards making our place more comfortable and welcoming to all of you and your guests. (Yes, more bathrooms are coming, I promise. You can peek out the back window to see their outline, and we will have them finished soon.) We appreciate your patience as we have gone through this process! And last but not least, for those of you with plug-in vehicles, we have installed 6 car chargers (3 general, 3 Tesla specific) just above the fire lane – with our total solar capacity now close to 90KW, you can come fill those batteries with Black Ankle Vineyards sunlight.
You may also notice a few new faces here consistently (and on social media)! We are excited to say that we have added three folks to Melissa’s tasting room management team. These guys and the rest of our part-time tasting room crew will continue to provide you all with excellent customer service as we grow. A big welcome to Christina Calloway, Rebecca Serio, and Kaitlyn Rollyson. If you see them zipping around, give them a shout hello!
In other tasting room news, we are experimenting with adding a wine flights option. Of course, you can still come in any time to have a regular tasting, but we are also going to try out offering wine flights. These flights will include current wines, but they will also allow us to occasionally bring out a few favorites from the library to let you see how they are aging or give you a sneak preview of wines that have yet to be released. We think it will be a lot of fun to give everyone a chance to try something different now and then. The flights will be somewhat limited in supply, so it is best to reserve your spot in advance if you know you are coming. We will see how it goes for a few months, so let us know what you think.
So, now for a few details about some of this quarter’s wines…
The 2014 Rolling Hills is 46 % Cabernet Sauvignon this year, with 26% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Franc, and 7% Petit Verdot. It is full-bodied, lively, and balanced with a lovely lingering finish. We have made a Bordeaux-Style blend called Rolling Hills almost every year, and it tends to be one of our most popular releases for red wine lovers.
For all you Slate fans out there, Feldspar II should be a favorite. A soft, beautiful wine which came together so nicely at blending. It’s strong tannins and full mouth feel are supported by flavors of red fruit, black cherry, and light spice. This wine is drinking beautifully right now, but we expect it to have a good aging life, so don’t hesitate to keep it for a while if you prefer.
The 2015 Albariño is full of flavor! For the first time in 2015, we blended our albariños with a bit of viognier to provide better balance (the albariño by itself seemed a bit too acidic and heavy). This wine in particular is a great food wine – in fact, in our February staff news letter we suggested pairing it with an appetizer called “Crabbies”. Let us know if you want the recipe, but we should say it involves a lot of crab and butter!
The 2015 Grüner Veltliner is my favorite GV to date. After years of experimenting with the best way to grow and make this wine, we have discovered that even when the fruit looks like it is falling apart on the vine, the flavors are still developing. Leaving it to hang a bit longer in the vineyard yields a riper, more mouth-filling wine. After harvesting these grapes later than usual, we fermented the juice 100% in stainless steel to preserve its freshness and delicate aromas. It took a little extra nerve and patience to make this wine, but it has proved well worth it.
Sarah (and Ed)