Winemaker’s Musings

Winemaker’s Musings Sep 2017


What a summer! Harvest is now well underway and will be done in just 3 weeks. Fairly typical. But, the way we got here was anything but ordinary. We had our most successful Blues Festival of all time and sold out the venue requiring us to turn away hundreds. Then, six days later, we got hit by tornadic winds in excess of 120 mph. We safely got all our guests into the “bomb shelter”, our reinforced concrete barrel storage area and the brewhouse. Mother Nature huffed, and puffed, and nearly blew our house down. When we came out to see the carnage our stage was gone and our property was a mess with vines torn down, hail damage, and many hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. Since then we have been scrambling to get some sort of crop and jump through the insurance man’s hoops.

Harvest is down by 50% at our vineyard, but most of the vine damage has been mitigated. We expect to have a normal harvest next year. The crop that did come in is promising. Most of you know that last year’s wines were the driest I ever made here. This year’s wines will be sweeter as the acids are higher. We also have some neat new varieties. We planted Noiret three years ago and they are doing great. We have very little of this wine so it will be blended eventually, but it is promising. Good chemistries for a dry red. Another new red is called Petite Pearl. They are just in their second year, but once again have promising chemistries for a dry red. We also planted some Frontenac Gris (grey) and Blanc (white). Both love our site and are doing well. The Gris did not produce very well this year so the jury is out. The Blanc are too young to produce, but from the clusters we found the chemistries and flavor are very promising.

The Syrah crop looks like one of the best we have had, as does this year’s Chambourcin. Keep your fingers crossed for us on these suckers!

I would also like to introduce you to Erin. She will be taking over winemaking duties from me as she gets accustomed to our varieties and styles. She has extensive experience in California and even worked and studied in New Zealand. The old guy needs a break! She shows great promise for our future!





A tornado is a hard act to follow, but I am very excited to join the Soaring Wings team and much less likely to knock over the winery. I started my winemaking career in Napa Valley and traveled to New Zealand for my graduate degree in Enology and Viticulture. Recently, I spent several years making Pinot noir in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County before inching back east to Napa… and then leaping even farther east to Springfield! I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, so I am thrilled to be back in the Midwest and I am looking forward to making great wines here at Soaring Wings.