Vintage 2022 Update

A Holistic Approach to Creating Exquisite Wines of Place
Elizabeth Keyser on Sustainable Winemaking and More

 

For a cool and rainy start, things sure are catching up quickly in the vineyards of the new Rocky Reach AVA. But our winemaker Elizabeth Keyser is no stranger to this type of roller coaster weather. Drawing comparisons to some of the classic Washington vintages, she sees a lot of promise with recent the shift towards warmer weather.
 
Liz Keyser in the vineyard

“If you take a look back, we’ve already passed the amount of necessary growing degree days from our historically coolest and rainest vintage in 2011. This bodes really well for flavor development in our later ripening varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah,” Liz explains. “Heat is a double-edged sword, of course. Too much and you risk sugar accumulation without the necessary phenolic ripening, so we’re spending a lot of efforts right now on canopy management in the vineyards.”

 

Liz and Director of Viticulture Shane Collins have been working closely on developing a precision canopy management approach to really help increase phenolic ripening. As a result, Rocky Pond’s vineyards are responding well to the heat, demonstrating healthy canopies with a full set of fruit.

This two-pronged approach to vineyard management includes a laser focus on leaf pulling and green thinning, which helps with ripening, dehumidifying, and crop reduction. This way the vines are putting all their energy into ripening the optimum amount of fruit — and exactly the right clusters. “The clusters are massive right now,” Elizabeth explained.  “And so we’re also working to trim those clusters, down them to where it’s just going to be the yummy, juicy, good fruit.”

 

“We’re already refining our cellar practices and staging the wines well enough in advance so that gravity is actually doing a lot of the work of settling the lees (remaining yeasts) versus using fining agents. Even the most state-of-the-art fining agents aren’t selective. The best practice is to start with a wine that is microbially sound and then let nature and gravity do the rest.”

 

Each one of our 2020 wines is unfined and unfiltered. And Liz is particularly proud of the 2021 Tumbled Granite, which has even greater clarity and purity than the excellent 2020 release.

Winemaker Liz Keyser testing the wine from the barrel

Liz and the team truly take a holistic approach to winemaking. Dedicated to sustainability, they understand that the concept goes even beyond vineyard practices and cellar management. It also extends to the care and consideration we show our teams. “As a company, we have been thought leaders in that space. As we continue to grow, we’re looking at the whole picture.

Sustainability also means that our employees need to have financial support and stability. This means providing things like housing for our vineyard crew, equal access to healthcare, and benefits, and that’s reflected in our certification by Sustainable WA. But it’s something that we’ve always had as a core practice.” We’ll be sharing more from Liz as harvest approaches, and as always feel free to reach out to us with any questions about Rocky Pond. We are so thankful for your support and are looking forward to an exceptional vintage!

Want to know Liz’s #1 summer wine recommendation?

2019 Double D Syrah

Our award-winning single vineyard Syrah from our Double D Estate Vineyard in the Columbia River Valley

“This is a classic expression of Syrah from the flagship Double D vineyard, perfumed with brambly fruits, black tea, and gravel. This wine shows its youth with chewy yet precise tannins and layers of sweet kirsch, blueberry compote, savory olive, and signature minerality of Double D.” – Liz Keyser

Double Gold 96 pts. Sunset International Wine Competition!

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