Fall 2017 Winemaker Insight

I am excited to share with you some of the highlights of the 2017 growing season. As a winemaker, we have one shot a year at making a great wine; like an artist with only one canvas. It is an exhilarating time yet very humbling moment to create a unique wine by transforming the grapes we cared for in the vineyard.

The beginning of this growing season was the end of the warm weather trend we had the last few years. 2014, 2015, and 2016 were three very warm vintages with 2015 showing unprecedented heat unit accumulation. 2017 was initially slow to get started. In fact, we were even cooler than 2011 for some time, which triggered a late bud break. Some heat in early July helped slow down the vegetation's growth at the right time to develop a well balanced canopy. The heat also stressed berry development, leading to smaller berries and loose clusters, favorable for high quality wine. In 2017, we had high temperatures in early and late August prolonging into September, which is abnormally hot this late in the year.

Even with the 2017's impressive come back, harvest did start on September 6th, unlike 2015 and 2016 when the first day of harvest was August 24th.

This year has the potential to be a great vintage with some good brightness of the fruit, deep color intensity, and a rich mouthfeel with great balance.

James Beard House
Marie-Eve and I were invited earlier this year as husband and wife winemakers, along with restaurant Marée from Seattle, to attend a dinner at the James Beard House in New York. JamesBeard Executive Chef Andy Dekle, General Manager Megan Hartz, and owner Rosalind Poll did an amazing job with the wine and food pairings, especially 3000 miles away.

Allen Shoup's FICB Award
The International Federation of Wine Brotherhood is based in Paris. FICB has awarded the Diploma of Honor (Diplome d'Honneur) to Allen for his lifetime accomplishments in the wine industry. This is a huge honor given in past years to wine celebrities such as Jean Charles Boisset, Gina Gallo, Michel Rolland... Bravo Allen, well deserved!

Food & Wine Society
I was selected by the International Wine and Food Society to receive their Americas Certificate of Appreciation for my "insatiable thirst for knowledge of both the art and the science of grape growing and winemaking". Thank you very much to my dear friend Jim Hoffman and to Eva Roberts of the Spokane Branch. This award truly means a lot to me.

Whether you have a question, are planning a trip to Walla Walla or just want to say "Hi!", I would love to hear from you. I hope to see you all in the near future, a glass of wine in hand.

Santé! Gilles Nicault

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