Winter has descended on the valley and the vineyard. I find it hard to believe another season and another year are drawing to a close. As humans, we have a natural tendency to slow down and turn inward as the days grow shorter and the nights colder. And as the holiday season and the new year approach, we reflect on the past and make resolutions for the future. Al and I live and breathe River Bend every day of the year…whether we want to or not. We reflect on the past…the good, the bad, the sometimes ugly…and make plans for the future. Instead of living the same year over and over, we attempt to learn and grow from one year to the next. So here is a recap of the year that was 2018…and where we’ll go from here.
In the winery, we had a year of new releases unlike we have had in the past. In May, we released the first River Bend Rose’. A shortage of Marquette grapes forced us to come up with a new dry rose’ blend, and while I was disappointed that Marquette Rose’ would be no more, I was extremely happy with the new blend. A negative turned into a positive. Mid summer, our Cheers Extended Tirage (ta raj) sparkling wine debuted. We aged this wine for seven years, something I didn’t think I had it in me to do. Seven years is like…forever. In August, our first Reserve wine in four years was released. Our Bourbon Barrel Shiraz was a hit, and sold out in just a few weeks. I do hope the next Reserve reveals itself sooner rather than later. And in September, our first Pinot Noir debuted. To call me a Pinot Noir enthusiast would be an understatement, and now we have one.
In the distillery, we achieved our production goal to move our spirits from 375ml bottles to the industry standard 750ml bottles. Our small batch equipment allows us to handcraft excellent spirits, but the batches are just that…small. Meticulous tweaking of the distillation process has allowed Al to maximize the batch sizes our small still can produce while maintaining the craftsmanship for which he is known. It has also allowed us to bring Craftsman spirits into the retail marketplace, with a handful of stores around the valley now carrying our Vodka, Gin, and Bourbon. For the first time, we have been able to keep an aged spirit in stock, and our signature Bourbon Whiskey has been consistently available all year. Next year we hope the same holds true for our Wisconsin Whiskey which was a quick sell out this year. And will Single Malt return in 2019? I sure hope so…
So where do we go from here? For the next two weekends, the winery and distillery remain open for our holiday Stock Up and Save event…check out www.riverbendvineyard.com/events. Over the winter months, our tasting rooms are closed and cellar work slows down as our wine and spirits quietly age. Al and I will take some time off to recharge and refresh. We’ll brainstorm new wines and concoct new spirits. Come early spring, the whole cycle begins again. One year ends, another begins. We do hope you’ll stay along for the ride.
Until next time...Cheers!