ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va (WHSV) — We've been following the wine making process closely at CrossKeys Vineyards since last summer, after wet weather caused a challenging year. Steve Monson, the vineyard manager, says they're starting to see a clearer picture of how all of the rain could have an impact on the wines.
The house white wine and the rose were the first to be bottled. They were harvested early before the rain became an issue, they say, so there is no real impact on those wines.
For the red wine grapes that were harvested later in the season and impacted by more rain, the tasting process is just beginning and they're still in the barrels. These are the wines where all the rain is likely to make the style a bit different.
"You can definitely taste the vintage in the wine, what that means for quality, it's a little too early to tell," Monson said. "Maybe it's not the wine we had set out a year ago to make for the 2018 vintage, but we adapted."
Monson says they knew they'd need to make changes when the rain wouldn't let up. They shortened the time in the tanks and reduced the amount of new oak in the barrels to make a well balanced wine.
"This season was bad for long enough that we knew we were going to have to change the way we did things," Monson said. "So they're going to be different than another vintage, but that's why we like making wine in Virginia. You get to taste the time in the bottle."
He says with more rain, they expect the wines that were harvested later to have less sugars, meaning less alcohol. To keep the wine well balanced, they're using less new oak in the barrels for a lighter body.
"We did learn a lot, and I think it's going to change how we do things in a better year," he said. "I think we're pleasantly surprised with some of the wines, and maybe the more basic approach we took in an extreme season can teach us something about what we can do in a better season."
Monson says every year is a fresh start, and they're hoping this growing season won't be as extreme as the last.