The Year Ahead

This picture was taken in April 2010--it's not what the vineyards look like right now.  But it is a pretty good representation of what my heart fills like inside!  I am looking forward to this year!  Winter is going to be over soon, the bottling truck is going to be pulling in, and soon enough the tasting room will be bustling again.

What's new this year?  On the wine front, we are making several new wines to share with you.  On the construction front, the footings are in place for our new production facility and the walls will be going up before you know it.  And our events calendar is filling up with a mix of old favorites (Thursday afternoon Happy Hours with yours truly tickling the ivories) and new events.

One new event will be palate trainings in the tasting room.  I attended a palate training last summer at Central Washington University and want to bring a bit of that experience home to Chelan.  Every few weeks, I will lead a small group through a series of blind tastings of wine–both ours and others.  We will consider wine in its elemental form–color, aroma, taste (acidity, sugar, tannins, mouth feel, etc.).  If you are new to wine or just love the chance to sharpen your senses, watch for more info on these events as the summer draws near. 

Another new event will be vineyard tours.  Every wine lover knows that at least eighty percent of a great wine comes from the grapes in the vineyard.  Pruning, thinning, and watering are all critical steps we take each year in the pursuit of high grade fruit.  The fun (and sometimes nerve-racking) part is that mother nature gives us a different set of circumstances each year to deal with.  Some years require more thinning, some less, some call for more water, some less.  Being alert to weekly changes in the vines is of critical importance.  I hope you’ll join me for a vineyard tour this year as I share some of the work we have done to date and how the fruit is maturing through the season. 

Back in the tasting room, we’re excited to be adding two new wines to our list this year. In late April during the Chelan Nouveau celebration, wil be release our 2010 Syrah Rosé, The Rosé will be bottled in late march and should be the perfect summer sipper.  About 2% residual sugar and plenty of acid to provide structure.  Also, this year marks the return of our white blend “Camino.”  Its composition will continue to evolve, but the goal is the same: a comfortable wine, perfect for the Lake.  (I haven’t mentioned the reds, but the 2009 Reserve Syrah is going to be a killer–look for its release in late summer.)

When I’m not behind the bar, I’ll be playing project manager for our new production building located adjacent to the tasting room.  The facility will give us room to grow—up to the 2,000 case mark.  We’ve looked around at other wineries in the valley and the small boutique operations at this level—Nefarious, Tildio, and others—offer a business model that makes sense for our size and location.  On our vineyard tours, I’ll be sure to take a pass through the construction zone so please come out and take a look at our progress!

2011 promises to be a year of new growth and offerings at Tunnel Hill.  We appreciate your support of our family business.  It allows us to continue to farm on the south shore, gives sustenance to our great retail and field staffs, and in a significant way connects your family with our own.  Here’s to a year of good wine and great memories at Tunnel Hill!

Michelle Fanton