Thursday, July 16, 2020

Extreme Viticulture: Sanctuary Vineyards Dorian Release

On September 6th, 2019 Hurricane Dorian made landfall in North Carolina causing widespread destruction particularly in Ocracoke due to reverse flooding from the Pamlico Sound. On that day in Jarvisburg, Sanctuary Vineyards scrambled to harvest and crush their remaining grapes -- succeeding up until they lost power late in the evening. These Tannat and Petit Verdot grapes then received the equivalent of a two-day cold soak maturation until power was restored a couple days later. After fermentation, the grapes were aged in new American oak and blended and bottled as Dorian.

In normal times viticulture is extreme in the Sandhill region of North Carolina - and not only from the threat of hurricanes - and particular for vinifera grapes.  Humidity, pests, and soil composition provide additional obstacles.  Pierce's disease is a struggle brought on by pathogenic bacterium fueled by humid conditions. The vineyards are planted on ancient sand dunes providing excellent drainage and some resistance to phylloxera but Sanctuary's vineyards receive additional nutrients from clam shells initially used for crop cover.  The Outer Banks also experiences intense heat and sunshine -- optimal for ripening grapes -- but require the breezes from the nearby Atlantic to cool the grapes at night.

The Dorian wine was officially released this last Saturday (July 11, 2020) with owner John Wright donating a portion of these sales to the Ocracoke Interfaith Relief & Recovery Team. In Ocracoke, the wine is available at Zillies and most likely enjoyed during the amazing sunsets across the sound. Actually, the wine would benefit from a couple years aging, but for those opening young there is sufficient tannic structure to complement the dark berry and smoky fig profile.  Sanctuary Vineyards also producers a range of other estate-grown vinifera wines using Tempranillo, Viognier, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Roussanne, Albarino, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, and Syrah.

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