4.0 Cellars Grape Harvest 2019
Those of you who have visited or even driven by 4.0 Cellars probably noticed grape vines growing near Hwy 290, in front of the three Logo tanks at the entrance to the tasting room and patio area. These are Black Spanish, or Lenoir, vines, a hybrid grape that grows well in the hot, more humid climates of Texas. The vines were planted in 2013 by folks from Lost Oak Winery, one of our partner/owners, and were intended to be a “show” vineyard, a garden really, so that visitors could see and appreciate grapevines.
In 2016, a decision was made to actually harvest grapes from these vines and use them to produce a port-style wine, a Portejas, in collaboration with Todd Webster, winemaker at Brennan Vineyards. The grapes harvested in 2016 were of poor quality and were not used in winemaking. However, in 2017, nearly 1,000 lbs of grapes were harvested and eventually combined with Ruby Cabernet from Brennan Vineyards to produce a 4.0 Cellars Portejas that is currently offered for sale in the tasting room. The 2018 harvest was even larger, over 1,100 lbs of fruit that is resting in barrel at Brennan Vineyards until time to blend into the next version of 4.0 Portejas.
Now, what about 2019? First of all, the big difference this year was the limited number of vines that actually produced fruit. About 20 of the total 128 vines had died since last year and were, of course, not able to produce fruit. In addition, there were some problems with other vines that seemed to be suffering from either the dreaded Pierce’s Disease or a vine virus. Both of these diseases restrict water and nutrient flow through the vine that will negatively impact fruit development and, may ultimately cause the vine to die. Couple this with heavy rain in late spring/early summer that probably limited fruit set in the remaining healthy vines, and we saw a much smaller harvest on 11-August, of only 476 lbs.
We had a fun time harvesting on Sunday morning, 11-August. A great crew of friends gathered and completed the smaller harvest in only 45 minutes. We then enjoyed a bit of celebration with wine, pastries, and cheese. It was fun to visit with this year’s harvest crew, and I want to express my thanks to them: Tracey & Doug Chalman, Carol Willis & Rob Reynolds, Laurie & Shelly Ware, Chuck Mauldin, & Kevin Spivey. Once the celebration was concluded, Kevin and I hauled the grapes to Comanche, TX, where we met Pat Brennan. He helped us weigh the bin of grapes, and then move the bin into cold storage until the Brennan crew can process the grapes and start fermentation. We sincerely appreciate Todd Webster and his crew for helping us convert these Black Spanish grapes into wine that will be blended into a 4.0 Cellars Portejas.
I looked back at the calendar for this season and can offer the following highlights of key steps and stages in this 2019 vintage.
17-Feb – Vines were pruned and the next day a protective fungicide spray was applied
28-Feb & 1-Mar – Worked on weed control in the vineyard
2-Apr – Applied another fungicide application to control & prevent downy mildew
21-27-Apr – Bud break occurred & another fungicide application
12-18-May – Week of fruit set, also applied more fungicide & removed lots of leaves from the fruiting zone to improve air flow and provide more sun exposure
3-Jun – Applied more fungicide to protect from mildew in rainy conditions
6-Jue – 16 new Tannat vines were planted to replace Black Spanish vines that had died
A number of times over the next three weeks trips to the vineyard were made to water the newly planted Tannat vines to keep them healthy and growing.
23-29-Jun – Veraison occurred as the hard green grapes began to turn purplish & soften
9-Jul – Another fungicide application as patches of downy mildew were developing, and weed control measures were needed as the rains had really promoted growth
16-Jul – Repaired several points in the vineyard irrigation lines & began watering the vines on a regular, essentially weekly basis
30-Jul – Vineyard watered with irrigation system, grape ripeness checked (18 deg Brix)
1-Aug – Vineyard watered again, checked grape ripeness (22 deg Brix)
11-Aug – Harvest, 476 lbs, grape ripeness level was a bit over 24 deg Brix (% sugar).
The expectation is wine made from these 2019 Black Spanish grapes will eventually be blended with Ruby Cabernet wine grown and produced at Brennan Vineyards to make the third version of 4.0 Cellars Portejas. At this point I want to express thanks to all who helped with this vintage. Special thanks to Rob Reynolds and Chuck Mauldin for help with weed control, to Rob, Chuck, Jim Worthington, and Kevin Spivey for help in planting the new Tannat vines, and to Kevin for driving the grapes to Comanche following harvest. Help and expertise in producing our 4.0 Cellars Portejas from Todd Webster and the entire Brennan Vineyards crew is gratefully acknowledged.
Today, the 4.0 Cellars Portejas from the 2017 Black Spanish grapes is available at the Wine Road 290 tasting room in an attractive 500 mL package. The Portejas from the 2018 harvest will probably be blended and bottled in a 375 mL (half-bottle) format later this year, or early 2020. And, the 2019 fruit will be fermented and aged for at least another year before blending and bottling. So, stay tuned – more 4.0 Cellars Portejas is on the way.