March 2014

March roared in like a lion with four inches of snow and ice the very first day of the month. Thankfully it appears that the buds were not damaged by the extreme cold spell this winter, when the lowest temperature was minus four degrees at our Van Horn Vineyard!

We may find some winter damage on younger plants which are susceptible at the graft union between rootstock and grape vine. Mature plants are more tolerant of hard winter freezes. Further vineyard scouting will help discover this, but the core of our wine producing vines are off to a good start. From January to March we are in the process of pruning. All of our vineyards are pruned by hand. Cane pruning consists of removing all of last year’s growth except for two – one year old canes from the head of the trunk. These ‘fruiting canes’ are pulled down and tied to the ‘fruiting wire’. Along these two canes, buds are present that will emerge over the coming months, laying the foundation for the 2014 vintage.

Over the last month in the winery we have been busy bottling our Spring releases. Every year I relish this part of my job as we get to enjoy our finished creation, as well as the collective hard work that produced them. I am very excited for the release of these wines, especially the 2012 Reds. (What an outstanding vintage year!) I know you will enjoy our new releases as much as I do.

Without a doubt Spring is my favorite time of year. Days are longer, fruit tree blossoms are showcasing color and the vineyard pruning is done. I am still amazed by the abundant beauty that surrounds us and feel blessed to call the Hood River Valley home.

John Stehlik
Cellar Master/Vineyard Manager

WINE SNIPPETS: Is it Acid or Tannin?
Spring in the Hood River VineyardRed wines have acid as well as tannin, and distinguishing between the two as you taste a wine can be a real challenge. When you’re not sure whether it’s mainly tannin or acid you’re perceiving, pay attention to how your mouth feels after you’ve swallowed the wine. Both tannin and acid will make your mouth feel dry. Acid makes you salivate in response to the dry feeling (saliva is alkaline, so it neutralizes the acid). Tannin just leaves your mouth dry.
~WINE FOR DUMMIES, 2nd Edition

Featured Spring Recipe

Orzo Risotto with Garlic Buttery Shrimp
(4 servings)

1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally
into one-inch lengths
2 cloves garlic, finally chopped
1 3/4 cups orzo
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 pound shelled and deveined medium shrimp
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock or broth
Large handful of chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus; cook over high heat until tender.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus to a plate. Add the orzo to the boiling water; cook, stirring
occasionally, until al dente, 10 minutes

2. Meanwhile, cut the asparagus into 1-inch lengths. In a medium skillet, melt the butter over moderately
high heat, add garlic and sauté. Reduce the heat to moderate and cook until the butter begins to brown.
Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderate heat until pink and curled, about 1 minute per side. With a slotted spoon, add the shrimp to the asparagus. Reserve the skillet.

3. Drain the orzo, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water, then return to the saucepan and stir in the butter garlic mix. Set the skillet over high heat and add the stock, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Pour the stock and the reserved cooking water into the orzo; cook over moderate heat, stirring, until creamy, 2 minutes. Stir in the asparagus and shrimp and cook until heated through. Remove from the heat. Stir in the parsley and the 1/2 cup of Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the risotto to bowls and serve with more Parmesan.

Serve this dish with our 2013 Estate Pinot Gris!

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