Human. Nature. Hope Well.
Hope Well wine is the alchemy between the natural world, my deep love for this ground and the unsung heroes whose strong hands, hearts and minds have helped me make it.
The landscape knows everything I want to learn in this life. Wine, for me, offers a different dimension of communication with my teacher and mentor, this place. The wordless communication of so many days and lessons culminates at harvest, and you are allowed communion and conversation.
It is my great pleasure to announce the release of my 2020 white wines from Hope Well. Against the vast and dark shadows of 2020, the bright spots shine even brighter for the backdrop.
The story of the 2020 Pinot noir is related in my “Silver Linings” letter from the edge. Losing the Pinot was painful, and a personal decision I made, but the whites pressed off beautifully, and all throughout fermentation and aging continued to paint a stunning picture of 2020 that carried my spirits through that difficult time.
The 2020 Chardonnay and two bottlings of Chenin blanc, brought daily hope and joy to my work as the pandemic wore on through 2021. The fact is, until the fires in 2020, while the crop was notably small, the quality in the vineyard was unparalleled.
In the Chardonnay we had gorgeous, transparent berries so full of intense aroma and flavor that more than made up for the lack of quantity. I took the precious jewels straight to press, whole cluster, and ran a very long and gentle press cycle to get all the drops. Juice settled for two days before racking to barrel off the green lees. One 2019 barrel was the newest wood I used, and we ended up with three barrels total of this incredible vintage of Chardonnay.
Having grafted the Riesling over to Chenin blanc in 2019, the first fruit was allowed to hang in 2020, and I really had no idea how it would perform. I was blown away to see how well the vines took the grafts, and as we passed bloom and fruit-set I was so excited to get my hands on the fruit. Chenin needs more time on the vine, having a longer ripening period, and it wasn’t a given that we could even get it ripe. After the smoke cleared and we were harvesting finally, I remembered what François Chidaine, my Chenin blanc hero and dear friend, told me when I asked him what advice he would share about Chenin in the vineyard and winery: ‘When you think it is ripe, wait longer.’ The French have the most charming way of telling you everything without telling you anything.
While not exactly a scientific target, this advice was immensely important, because if I had picked according to my first instincts, I would have missed a rainbow. I was worried that by waiting past my trigger the grapes would lose acidity, but that was not the case. In the interest of learning I eventually decided to pick twice. The first pass was completed a good ten days beyond my first instinct of ripe flavors. The second, a full two weeks later, with the October Hunter’s Moon. A truly fascinating experiment in late-season time on the vine, we ended up with two wines that were nearly identical across all the numbers we look at. Brix and pH were the same. But with the last pass we captured some lovely dry botrytis that had converted some of our sugars to glycerol, which is not fermentable. The resulting two wines are electric, as different as can be, and made me so excited about farming Chenin blanc that I am grafting it at the new Hope Well this April.
Losing the Pinot noir in 2020 put a different focus on the whites, almost like saving the last seed, there was too much at stake and these wines have been so loved. They were the first and last wines I made in the Hobbit Hole that is no longer mine. And from harvest 2020 through 2021, they were the light that found a way in the dark, and shine with all the intensity that a perfect juxtaposition allows. It is with gratitude and great joy I share them with you.
All current wines are available for purchase here.
Read more here:
- Silver Linings, the story of the 2020 vintage
- 2020 Hope Well Chardonnay
- 2020 Hope Well Chenin Blanc
- 2020 Hope Well Chenin Blanc Hunter’s Moon
Information about previous vintages of Hope Well wines is available here.
If you would like to keep in touch with the Hope Well wine project and my occasional “Letters from the Edge,” please subscribe here.