October 6, 2010

Tassel Ridge Winery Events

Saturday, October 9—OktoberWineFest Wine Dinner & Hayride through the Vineyard

6:00 p.m.—Wine Tasting
6:30 p.m.—Hayride through the Vineyard
7:30 p.m.—Dinner
Price: $45 per person, plus tax—Harvest Club Member & 1 Guest Price: $40 per person, plus tax (includes dinner, 2 glasses of wine, and gratuity)

The festivities begin with a wine tasting in our tasting room! Sip our special mulled wine and experience a hayride through the vineyard. Enjoy a German-themed dinner featuring Wiener Schnitzel (a tender veal cutlet, lightly breaded and pan-fried), German fried potatoes, and red cabbage paired with Tassel Ridge American Dry Riesling. Apple strudel with vanilla sauce will be paired with Tassel Ridge award-winning Iowa Prairie Snow for dessert. Advance reservations required by Thursday, October 7. Contact the Winery at 641.672.WINE for reservations.

Saturday, October 23—Fall Art Exhibition at Tassel Ridge Winery

12:00–4:00 p.m.

Join us for our Fall Art Exhibition at Tassel Ridge Winery. Meet the artists, watch them work, and learn how their works grow and develop. Completed artwork will be available
for purchase.

Friday, October 29—Wine Dinner & Murder Mystery


Tassel Ridge Announces 2008 Iowa St. Croix

2008 Iowa St. Croix is a dry red wine that is made entirely from St. Croix grapes grown in our vineyards. It is a big wine with purple-red color, dark cherry and berry fruit notes, nice mouth feel, and complex hints of leather and minerals. It has characteristics that remind me of wines I’ve enjoyed from the Southern Rhone in France. The 2008 Iowa St. Croixwas aged with French oak beans in stainless steel tanks. It was bottled about six months ago.

I’ve enjoyed the 2008 Iowa St. Croix with nicely seasoned chicken breasts, pasta with a spicy red sauce, and steak with a green peppercorn brandy sauce. It would pair well with grilled meats. I could drink this wine every night of the week!

This wine is best if it has been aerated with either a Vinturi (for sale in the Winery) or in a decanter. Right out of the bottle, the wine comes across as tight and acidic but with some air contact, it changes and is outstanding.

We have been tasting this wine at the Winery for about two weeks and the response is very favorable. We are getting rave reviews from our first customers.

2008 Iowa St. Croix—$20 for a 750 ml bottle

—Bob Wersen

New Tassel Ridge Wines for Fall 2010

Our cellar team has been hard at work creating some new wines that will be released over the next two months.

2010 Cranberry Wine is a seasonal favorite. This is a sweet, fruity cranberry that sold out fast last year. It is the perfect wine for holiday dinners featuring turkey, dressing, and all of the trimmings. Although we made more Cranberry Wine this year than we did last year, we expect that it will sell out fast. It goes on sale in the tasting room on October 29. We will sell it at a few of our retailers soon thereafter.

2010 Iowa Nouveau is the first wine of each season. It is a very fruity, dry red wine and when young, it may be slightly spritzy. This wine is another great wine for holiday dinners. It has enough body to hold its own with full flavored meats while being light and fruity enough that it won’t overpower side dishes. Besides, it is just fun! It goes on sale during the weekend of November 20–21 right before Thanksgiving. This wine will appear in retailers the following week.

2010 Cranberry Wine and Star Spangled White™ in special Christmas Tree shaped bottles will be released on Black Friday, November 26. We have a very limited supply of this wine and it will be sold on a first come, first served basis. Members of our Harvest Club will have an opportunity to purchase these wines during the week before Thanksgiving. These wines will make a very special holiday gift.

2010/2011 Tassel Ridge Winery Catalog Was Mailed about Ten Days Ago

Did you receive your copy of the 2010/2011 Tassel Ridge Winery catalog? It is 32 pages in full color and includes all of our wines. If you didn’t receive a copy, please do two things: click here to add yourself to our mail list. Be sure to provide both your e-mail and postal mail address. Then, call us at 641.672.WINE (9463) and ask us to send you a copy.

Tassel Ridge Gift Shop Gears Up for Fall

The Tassel Ridge Winery Tasting Room and Gift Shop are geared up for a busy fall! The winery’s decor has changed and focuses on new fall items, such as mulled wine, tail-gating themed items, and new fall themed gift baskets! The mulled wine will be featured at the “Oktoberwinefest Dinner & Hayride through the Vineyard” (see article above for reservation information). Our special mulled wine, made with Bisschopswijn, and mixed with our 2008 Iowa Frontenac Rosé, is a great fall treat to help keep you warm on a hayride, sitting outside on a cool evening, or a great warm drink to spice up your fall parties!

Make sure to visit a new section of the gift shop, the “Create Your Own Gift Basket” section.  It’s not too early to start looking for great gift giving ideas, and we will not disappoint as we are pulling out all the stops and bringing in some great gifts this fall/winter.

What Is Going On in the Vineyard?

It is now official! The 2010 harvest was VERY disappointing from the perspective of quantity.  Our harvest was just 37% of our projection. I am now pretty sure that heavy rains right as the vines were blossoming knocked the flowers right off the vines. When you don’t have blossoms, you don’t have grapes! Some varieties had lower yields and some heavier. For the most part, Tassel Ridge Winery has enough inventory of wine in various stages of development that shortages will be restricted to just two wines: Prelude and Iowa LaCrescent. We will run out of both this fall but will have more in the spring. We just won’t have enough to avoid running out again later in 2011. To address this problem, we have already planted more LaCrescent and will plant more St. Pepin next spring. But, those vines won’t produce until 2013.

Qualitatively, all but one of the varieties produced good fruit and the wines we are making from them look good. Our Frontenac, however, was not ready for harvest until early September. The total acidity was still high (this is a high acid variety), but the berries were already starting to raisin. We picked some anyway and nothing about the berries and juice was pleasing. We just dumped it without even trying to ferment the juice.

We never experienced much bird pressure. It may be that birds had enough alternate food sources that grapes didn’t interest them. We did learn that installing and removing netting is a lot of work!

We are going to be a lot more knowledgeable about what to look for if we get rain in June next year. We need to get a lot better at projecting our harvest quantities in the future.

We are now cleaning up our vineyards and getting them ready for winter. We’ve already experienced two nights of light frost and the vines are taking the hint that winter is coming. They are shutting down and the leaves are starting to turn brown.

What Is Going on in the Cellar?

Wine making from fruit harvested in August and September is in full swing. All of the fermentations are now complete and as time permits, we will begin racking (moving the clear wine off the dead yeast cells in white wine and off the dead yeast cells, grape skins, and seeds in red wine). With our white wines, we will then focus on fining operations. Most of our red wines will be moved into barrels for ageing and contact with oak. Our Nouveau does not get any oak contact and some wines will be aged in stainless tanks in contact with oak beans.

This week, we are focused on barrel work. We are moving the Red Zinfandel that has been in the barrels for more than twelve months out and will be getting it ready for bottling. We will move our 2009 Marquette into the 59 gallon barrels to make room for the 2010 Marquette which will mature in one of the 200 gallon French Oak barrels. We will put the remaining 2009 Marquette that has been in a stainless tank into the other French Oak barrel for some oak contact. We also moved the 2009 Brianna out of its barrel and are putting the 2010 Brianna in it for about one year of ageing in oak. By the way, the Brianna is the only white wine we are ageing in oak right now.

Finally, last week, we bottled our Oskyfizzante® Red using our new carbonation system.  Everything worked perfectly, and the cellar team is happy and proud of their accomplishment.

—Bob Wersen
Tassel Ridge Winery